tires May 08, 2018

Nitrogen vs Air: What Should I Fill My Tires With?

You might notice that you have an option at some car locations when you want to pump up your tires. You have a choice of nitrogen or air.

Which is the best choice for your vehicle and tires? Here’s a primer on how to choose.

All About Gases

Air and nitrogen are both gases. It’s a scientific fact that any gas expands when it is heated and contracts when it is cooled. This applies to the substance you put into your tires to inflate them, whether you use nitrogen or air.

That means your tire pressure will rise and fall in relation to the temperature of the environment. To be exact, it changes one pound per square inch, better known as psi, for each 10 degrees F.

That’s the reason experts tell you to check your tire pressure in the morning when the temperature is cooler. The morning also has another advantage. You probably haven’t been driving the car so you haven’t generated heat, which causes pressure to rise.

When Nitrogen Is the Best Choice

For most people, nitrogen offers little if any advantage. It won’t damage your tire, but it won’t add value to your tire inflation efforts either. Nitrogen also doesn’t offer any protection if you have a puncture or a leak.

But it does have advantages in certain conditions. Nitrogen is different from air in that it isn’t as responsive to changes in temperature as air is. It doesn’t seep through the rubber of your tires as easily. It is slightly more stable than air, especially when you’re in an environment with wide swings in the temperature. That means your tire is more likely to stay at a constant pressure in this type of environment.

For race car drivers, nitrogen is a big plus. They operate in extreme conditions.

When Air Is the Best Choice

Most drivers operate in normal conditions. The effect of using nitrogen will be hard to detect. For the vast majority of drivers, air is the best choice.

Air is also much cheaper. When you use nitrogen, expect to pay about $5 for each tire when you inflate them. Compare that to under a dollar for all your tires when you use air.

Ask the Experts

Still not sure which is the best choice for your vehicle and the driving conditions you normally experience? The solution is to ask the professionals at Wiygul Automotive Clinic. They are happy to explain the differences and help you decide if air or nitrogen is your best choice.

The staff at Wiygul takes pride in helping you keep your vehicle in tip-top shape. They want to help you stay safe on the road, improve your driving experience and keep your vehicle operating smoothly for years to come.

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