MANY NEW VEHICLE TIRES are coming from the factory inflated with nitrogen. This has prompted many motorists and fleet managers to follow suit. LCT Magazine recently asked Jerry White, owner of White Tire in Beaumont, Texas, about the benefits of nitrogen and whether it actually helps.
How long have you been using nitrogen in tires?
White: It’s definitely nothing new, as I’ve been using it for nearly three decades.
How did you start using it and why?
White: We had a trucking company that transported different gases that wanted us to put it into all of their tires. They supplied it, so all we had to do was put it in.
What benefits did you notice?
White: The most noticeable one was that the tires weren’t heating up like normal. Usually the tubes in these truck tires would almost melt onto the rim and tire, and were a nightmare to pull apart. With nitrogen, they just popped right off and the rim was clean and free of any corrosion.
So does nitrogen actually improve fuel economy?
White: The nitrogen doesn’t just magically make your fuel economy go up. Basically, there are several factors that help:
· Nitrogen is a dry gas that doesn’t expand and contract with temperature like oxygen, which has moisture. This keeps your tire pressure constant even at high speeds or long drives.
· Since nitrogen is a dry gas, it doesn’t corrode the rim and maintains a better seal at the bead line. With less seepage, you get less air loss. This also keeps your tires at a constant pressure.
· Again, since nitrogen is a dry gas, there is less damage to the tire itself. Tires are inflated to between 32 and 35 psi, which is the equivalent of two atmospheres. This is compounded by all moisture within the oxygen. Now you have the moisture dry-rotting the tire fabric and the extra pressure adding to that damage. Then throw in the factor that the moisture will expand greatly when the tire is heated. I believe you can see the benefits of using the nitrogen from here.
Can you just purchase nitrogen and put it in?
White: It would be better to let a professional do it. We pull a vacuum on the tire to remove the air and then re-inflate the tire with the nitrogen. Plus the price is generally between $5 and $10 per tire, so it’s not all that expensive.