More tire manufacturers are recommending the use of nitrogen in place of regular air for their product lines. What you fill your tires with at a gas station is around 21 percent oxygen, the remained being nitrogen and just a trace of water vapor and gases like CO1 and argon. Nitrogen used for automobiles now is 93 to 95 percent pure with only a trace of oxygen and other gases.
For passenger cars and trucks, there isn’t a noticeable difference between the two when it comes to driving, but the nitrogen has several advantages when it comes to the life of the tire and other equipment.
Nitrogen is drier than regular air and does not allow for moisture to buildup. With only a trace of oxygen in the tire, there is no oxidation present, so corrosion is significantly reduced. It also reduces how quickly tires age. As said before, it doesn’t affect driving, but it does mean that the tread on your tires is going to wear bald before any other issue forces you to buy a new set.
The reduced corrosion also helps to protect the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) Sensors and the other In-Wheel Electronics. The moisture in regular air can corrode all of it, and wind up costing the vehicle owner anywhere from $30 to $350 per tire just for the TPMS sensors alone.
With nitrogen, the air pressure is steadier than with air. Nitrogen molecules are larger than regular air, so they pass through the rubber in a tire at a much slower rate. That doesn’t mean you can stop checking your tire’s air pressure, but since a nitrogen-filled tire loses only about 2 psi as opposed to 3 psi for an air-filled tire over the same amount of time, there is less damage to the tread from irregular wear.
If you have commercial vehicles like construction equipment airplanes or engage in auto racing, nitrogen has more advantages. With only a trace of oxygen, it is non-flammable, provides better operation for larger vehicles or at high-speed for an extended period, and handles sudden increases in pressure such as in landing an aircraft.
Nitrogen is more expensive, however. Almost every gas station has a free air pump or charges only $1. Filling a tire with nitrogen costs about $5 to $7 depending on the size.
Switching from air to nitrogen also has an initial cost as well. It takes several cycles of filling and deflation to force all of the air out of the tire. For a set of four, that means an outlay of around $70 and could run over $100. It is necessary though because there is no other way to get rid of the water vapor and other gases.
The final decision is up to each vehicle owner. With more tire manufacturers recommending it, however, your next purchase of new tires would be an ideal time to switch to nitrogen.