Nitrogen filled tires? Pros and cons

Hello. I may possibly be purchasing a 2005 Altima 3.5SL. The dealers website offered the free Carfax report which I reviewed. I noticed that one of the things the previous owner did was fill the tires with nitrogen. I have heard of this before but cannot remember any specifics.

  1. Is it true that you can go longer between inflations (I use good old fashioned air in my current car once a month).
  2. Is it true that once you go nitrogen you cannot switch back to air (or you can but it’s complicated)?
  3. What are the pros and cons of nitrogen inflations vs air inflations? (I know that the price is the main thing. Air is free at the local tire shop. Also, I have seen coupons for nitrogen inflations for $19.99 which lets me know the regular price is more expensive. I mean, even if the inflations last longer, that’s still expensive in my opinion).

Let me know your thoughts. Thanks.

  1. No, air is 78% nitrogen, there’s very little difference
  2. No, ignore the fact that nitrogen is in the tires, fill up with air any time your pressures are low
  3. Pro - the guy selling the nitrogen makes some money. Cons - waste of your money.

Fine if it’s free, do not pay $1 for it.

If you want more info, type in ‘nitrogen’ in the search box to the right.

It’s a product with no purpose…Except to get into your wallet…

Pure profit motive for most shops that sell it. It is used in Nascar and some aircraft applications for conditions that your daily driver will never see. So, there is absolutely no benefit for you.

When they remove the oxygen and trace gases from the air, they also remove the moisture. Dry air in your tires is a good thing, particularly in cold climates. Commercial air compressors knock out most of the water, but nitrogen is dry.

All the other claims you hear about nitrogen in tires are BS.

Costco puts nitrogen in your tires as standard practice. I think that’s nice, but if it were optional and they wanted a buck a tire to use nitrogen, I probably would not pay for it. I add air to my tires in my garage with a hand pump. Hand pumps don’t remove any of the moisture from air, but I live in a dry warm climate.

It almost seems as though the things you have heard about nitrogen inflation are being confused with some of the things people hear about synthetic engine oil (going longer between pressure checks/oil changes, cannot switch between the two), and neither of these things should be assumed about either of these products. Nitrogen inflation is one heck of a waste of money. It literally does the exact same thing for your car as filling the tires with good old fashioned air: it keeps the tires round rather than flat. It doesn’t improve gas mileage or slow down leaks, and you still need to monitor your air pressure. It’s fine if it’s free, but it’s not something to spend money on since there are no real world benefits of using nitrogen over air.

One other thing: there is a “selling point” that is commonly used for nitrogen inflation about slowing down the degradation of the rubber, i.e: your tires won’t dry rot as quickly. This works on a lot of people unless you give it a little thought. Tires dry rot on the outside first because that is where they are subject to harsh environmental conditions. Nitrogen inflation won’t help you there, either.

Nitrogen will help the race car guys a little bit at 180 MPH but on a daily driven street car it doesn’t mean a thing. This is just a comparatively recent development to separate people from their money.

I actually got fairly depressed when I saw that my regular shop started advertising the nitrogen fill service. It made me think I should change shops even though I’ve been using them a long time. They did just recently do a large expansion - lots more bays & employees, etc. I’d bet they have plenty of big debt to pay on. So I’m hoping they won’t go “corporate” style on me.

I have to get a new set of tires soon & I buy from them. If they try to sell it to me, I’ll at least get the chance to say “c’mon, you guys used to be a serious place”

LOL…I like your style, cigroller. I have a compressor in my basement, and when I need air in my tires I just run a hose out to the cars. I give the tire chuck a quick spritz with my thumbnail to get any water out. The only time I have to add air is when the weather gets cold. It just doesn’t leak out that much!

Cigroller and Doubleclutch have it right. Nitrogen in the tires means no savings to you. I race the 1/4 mile in 10:43 and use Nitrogen for that car. The tires don’t expand with the nitrogen which means I can run more races on those tires. But my street vehicle run air in the tires. Check-them-tires weekly for pressure, daily on looks, rotate them as you should and the tires will last a good long time. I run Low-Pros on my street vehicle and the last 4-5 years. Because I take care of them.

Altimagirl–I would sell you nitrogen for your tires if you think you will do a lot of night driving. However, in your other post on checking out the 2005 Altima, you’ve proven that you are too smart for that line. I’ll have to look for another sucker.

The lightening of your wallet might help your car get better mpg.

I agree with the benefit of dry air so if you use a hand pump, wait till one of those cold dry norther days when everything shocks you and the tuning pegs on your fiddle slip from wood shinkage, that’s when to pump up your tires.

I had the same qustion about a year ago and got the same answers you did. I have put air (approx. 70% nitrogen) in nitrogen filled tires with no detrimental effect.

Bottonline: Benefits are minimal and a lot of the hype is false. If N2 is free, great, but it isn’t worth paying for.

Two things:

  1. If all the hype was true, it would only take a few trips to the air compressor to get your tires filled with nitrogen - if the O2 leaks out as they claim, every time your tire is low you have mostly nitrogen left in it, so a few fills should get you to a nitrogen-filled tire (won’t happen, but it would beat the nitrogen nuts at their own game).
  2. Based on the above, I wish somebody would just go around and sample, say, 100 random tires on cars to see how much N2/O2 they have. I bet it’s about the same as air, which eliminates most of the N2 boosters’ sales arguments. But even if they had more N2 than air, #1 applies.

No real benefit for the average driver, except maybe less air loss over time. If they gave it to me, yea I’d take it, if they wanted to charge me, I’d fill up with air. I wouldn’t pay 19.95.

But to take your point

  1. Yes from the studies I’ve read you lose less “air” per month using nitrogen than plain old air, but you still lose pressure.

  2. You can go from nitrogen to air without any problems, but to go from air to nitrogen takes a few step to purge the plain old air out of the tire, this generally involves letting the air out of the tire filling it with nitrogen, letting that mix out and filling it again, until the tire is full if nitrogen. But in many places they just let the air out and fill it with nitrogen and call it good enough.

  3. Pros Nitrogen will mean less air loss over time, and is dryer. Cons, cost.

But don’t forget the hype,

RACE CARS use it , AIRPLANES use it, so you should use ti too and for just 19.95 you too can use nitrogen in your car.

Ah, don’t look at the reason why race cars and airplanes use nitrogen in their tires, trust us it good for your car.

I’ve posted in long-past threads about my friend who has a luxo barge that handles like a pig on stilts and brags about how much better his car handles with nitrogen in the tires. PT Barnum was wrong…Suckers are born at a far higher rate than one a minute.

Pro: if you drive a race car and your car catches fire in the pits, nitrogen won’t feed the fire as air would. And, since nitrogen carries less moisture, when your tires heat up while sliding around the track at 200++mph, the pressure will vary less. With race tires, ahich are much softer than street tires and operatting just past the limits of adhesion, this matters.

Cons: people charging you to fill your street tires with nitrogen.

Air is 77% nitrogen anyway. This stuff about street tires retaining nitrogen better than air is pure BS. We’ve had lengthy threads on the subject.

Here is the question that nobody is asking… Ok I mount a tire on the rim (it as air in it) When its now filled with nitrogen how did the air that in there get out? Do you vac it out first?

I’m opening a nitrogen tire inflation store. I will also be selling the Brooklyn Bridge, perpetual motion machines, and Big Foot. Other items that should sell well are Pulstar spark plugs, Vornado air intake gizmos, Slick 50, magnets (for your fuel line) and the Easter Bunny. Every purchase gets you a free time share week at the Ocean Front Resort in Arizona. Stop in today!!!