Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Hydrogen in tires?

I’ve been hearing a lot about pumping hydrogen into tires. Does anyone out there know much about this and is it a good thing?

Hydrogen or nitrogen? Nitrogen has become popular; Costco provides the service at no cost on all their tires sold.

Yep, must be nitrogen, hate to think what might happen with hydrogen! BANG! As for nitrogen, if you get it free, not a problem, otherwise not worth spending anything for it.

Unless you are buying Hindenberg brand tires, I doubt that they would be filled with hydrogen. Nitrogen inflation is reputed to have some advantages, but I surely wouldn’t pay extra for it.

While Costco provides nitrogen inflation at no extra charge with their tires, someone reported on this forum recently that his mechanic charged him…something on the order of $50. for the unsubstantiated benefit of inflating the tires with nitrogen.

Free? Sure

Extra charge? No thanks

Really, the only benefit of using Nitrogen instead of plain old air is that Nitrogen atoms are larger than oxygen atoms. Therefore, it takes longer for them to seep out of your tires. The end result is that you have to add air to your tires less often.

If you used Hydrogen, then you would have to check your pressure daily perhaps. Hydrogen atoms are tiny and can seep out rather quickly. Not to mention that it is rather flammable.

It’s a sales gimmick. If it’s free, it’s harmless, but if they want to charge you pass on getting it. Air is already 77% nitrogen.

The real reason race cars use it is that pure nitrogen, because it contains no oxygen, will not feed a fire should there be one in the pits.

I check air pressure routinely one a month and rarely need to air any air, maybe once every 6 months, and then only a pound or two. How much air can seep out through the tire itself???

Very little seeps out, Consumer Reports tested it, and it made a very small (1-2 psi) difference over an entire year, so it’s much smaller than the seasonal variations from temperature, and meaningless to anyone that’s checking tires as often as they should.

There was an article I read recently about this Nitrogen gimmick. A tire company tested 20 different tires over a 1 year period. The tires filled with normal air loss on average 2lbs of pressure per year…While the tires filled with Nitrogen loss 1.2lbs of pressure…So is that .8lbs of tire pressure loss over a 1 year period worth the cost??

Actually some race cars use it because there is less difference between cold and hot tire pressure.

Another thing to consider is, how do you get the remaining air out of a tire that’s even flat before filling it with nitrogen ? You still won’t have a 100% nitrogen filled tire.

Maybe in the future they will try and convince you to add helium.

Nothing but a gimmick.

A couple of places around here do it, including one who has a little sticker “Do U N2?”

I’ve heard that, the only reason that might be true is because there might be less water vapor in nitrogen, so no condensation can occur. Oxygen is no different than nitrogen as far as expansion with temperature. Race cars need precise pressure control to 0.1 psi, something no street car needs.

Another thing to consider is, how do you get the remaining air out of a tire that’s even flat before filling it with nitrogen ?

Actually they can do that pretty easily. But WHO CARES.

That’s what tirerack told me about my rims and tires. My rims have 2 valve stems on it, so they can suck out the oxygen while pumping pure nitrogen into them.

This may also be true, however race tires are much thinner and softer than road tires and much more susceptable to changes in pressure. They’re operating right at the edge of adhesion and generating much more heat. Texases post provides some more detail.

Two valve stems? What kind of rims are they?

The main reasons for nitrogen in tires is because pure nitrogen contains no moisture, doesn’t leak as readily as air, and is more stable under temperature extremes.

No moisture means alloy wheels don’t corrode causing bead/wheel leaks. And if a leak developes it doesn’t escape as quickly as air. And if you have a vehicle with speed rated tires and operate the vehicle under those extremes, the tire pressures remain near constant. But mostly it’s been developed for vehicles that have Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems. If you can keep the tire pressures stable, that warning light on the dash won’t come on as often.

But if you have a vehicle that doesn’t fall under any of these catagories, it’s not worth paying for.


Why would nitrogen be more stable? It’s no different than oxygen as far as temperature changes go. Also, who has seen corrosion issues with air?

Holy FUHREEKIN’ cow, Batman. I’m still laughing about the “Hindenburg” brand tires!

Except for races cars, where, as one poster said, everything runs right at the edge of physics for the existing materials, nitrogen in car tires is right up there with . . .

Snipe hunting

Squeegee sharpeners

Board stretchers (an old construction favorite)

The Government Eye-Dee-Ten-Tee Form (ID10T)

Muffler bearings

Wiper Filter Cartridge

Intellectual Blonde

Honest Politician

Articulate Bush (of ANY generation)

Wonder whether I can teach my compressor to compress just the nitrogen in the atmosphere . . . .