Nitrogen tires have no water vapor in it and lose pressure less rapidly, that makes it have around 10% more fuel economy, 50% better longevity and reduce the probability of tire puncture by 75%. However, air filled tires are more available and are a much more affordable option for you.
Now, to answer the question of Nitrogen VS Air in Tires for your car, you need to understand the type of car you drive, and the main intention of maintaining your tire. To know more about all of these, let’s get started with this article.
Nitrogen VS Air In Tires
|Fuel Economy||10% more Fuel Economy||Standard Fuel Economy|
|Tire Pressure||74% Slower Pressure Loss||More Rapid Pressure Loss|
|Rolling Resistance||70% Less Rolling Resistance||More Rolling Resistance|
|Longevity||50% more longevity||Less Longevity|
|Safety||Reduces tire puncture by 75%||Relatively more prone to tire puncture|
|Wheel Corrosion||Does not effect in corrosion||Effects in corrosion|
|Availability||Less Available||Widely Available|
|Price (to refill)||$5 – $7||$1 – $2|
As observed from the table, nitrogen tires perform better than air filled tires in most conditions. In fact, according to a study conducted by Clemson university sponsored by Ingersoll Rand nitrogen tire’s performance has been compared in detail.
Nitrogen filled tires do not contain moisture like the air filled tires. The problem with moisture is that it heats up the tire and expands. This leads to more rolling resistance and reduced fuel efficiency.
Since nitrogen filled tires have lower rolling resistance, it lasts longer and has around 10% more fuel economy. In comparison, air filled tires have lower fuel economy due to higher rolling resistance.
Nitrogen filled tires are more stable because they lose pressure at 74% slower rate.This is because unlike air filled tires, nitrogen is less likely to permeate through the tire surface.
Compared to air filled tires, nitrogen tires have 50% more longevity because of the lower loss of tire pressure and better rolling resistance.
Although there is no major risk with both the tires if it is properly kept inflated, nitrogen filled tires are generally a bit more safer due to lower risk of tire puncture or blowout. In fact, nitrogen tires have around 75% less probability of tire puncture.
The presence of air affects the wheel corrosion because air has water vapor in its composition and as the vapor pressure fluctuates due to temperature changes, it leads to more corrosion of the wheel rim. But, nitrogen does not corrode the wheel rims as much since it has little to no water vapor.
Due to the relative difficulty in processing and the lack of demand, it is more difficult to find a station that will refill your tires with nitrogen. This is definitely not the case with air filled tires.
Nitrogen is more expensive because of the difficulty in processing it. Let’s go through a slight listing of the cost you can expect.
- If you buy a new car, expect to pay around $70 – $180 for the nitrogen filled tires.
- If you mixed your tires with air or you want to replace your air with nitrogen, expect to pay about $30 for draining out the air and refilling the tires with nitrogen.
- If you need a refill, you have to pay about $5 – $7 for each tire.
Whereas, you will have to pay only around $1 – $2 for each tire, if you want to refill it with air. So, air is definitely the more convenient option if you don’t worry about having consistent tire pressure.
Summary: Nitrogen tires perform better in terms of fuel economy, tire pressure, longevity and can give you a safer ride. However, compared to air filled tires nitrogen tires have much less availability and it is much more expensive.
Is It Safe to Use Nitrogen In Car Instead of Air?
Yes, you can use nitrogen instead of air in your car. There won’t be any negative impact on your tire or your car’s performance.
In fact, in a few cases nitrogen filled tires will provide slightly better performance. Let’s see the table below that compares some of the key factors between a nitrogen and air filled tires.
When To Use Nitrogen In A Car Instead of Air?
Nitrogen is the best option for race cars. This is because due to high acceleration, race car tires are prone to more friction and this friction causes heat expansion inside the tire. As the heat expands, the tire leads to problems such as blowouts.
Since, nitrogen does not have as much water vapor as compared to air, there won’t be extra pressure inside the tire as the friction builds up and there won’t be any heat expansion. Therefore, the tire has less probability of a blowout. So, that’s why nitrogen is widely used for race cars.
Summary: Nitrogen is definitely a safe option for your car but it is the best option only if you are using a race car. This is because of the low concentration of water vapor, which makes nitrogen tires safer by being less likely to blow out.
Can You Mix Nitrogen and Air In the Tires?
Yes, you can definitely mix nitrogen with air and it will not degrade the overall performance of your tire. In fact, the air in your tire itself has 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen and the remaining 1% the mixture of other gasses and water vapor.
But, the advantages that you get from using nitrogen such as correct tire pressure, and better fuel performance is slightly diminished because of mixing air with nitrogen. This is because of the increase in oxygen and water vapor in the overall mixture.
But then again, this impact is going to stay minimal and it is much better to mix nitrogen and air than run on low pressure. So, always remember to get the tire purged off the air after you are done using it, then refill it back with completely nitrogen.
Summary: In short, you can use nitrogen in your tires if you are driving a race car or consistent tire pressure is a major concern for you but other than that, it will be alright if you just drive with your regular air filled tires.
Can You Use Nitrogen in Summer Tires?
One of the best traits of nitrogen tires is the ability to maintain consistent pressure in the tires. Nitrogen is a good option for summer tires because it will help to maintain constant tire pressure when the temperature changes during summer.
Besides, the low concentration of water vapor in the nitrogen also protects the tire from expansion and eventual tire blowout. In addition to this, filing up your tires with nitrogen also makes it more durable since the lack of moisture does not affect the elasticity of the rubber.
Summary: Yes, nitrogen is a great option for summer tires. This is because of its ability to maintain consistent pressure and low concentration of water vapor.
Can You Use Nitrogen in Winter Tires?
The main benefits that you get from using nitrogen is that it maintains proper tire pressure. This means the tire will have better fuel economy, less leakages and definitely will perform better during winter.
Can You Use Nitrogen in All Season Tires?
Again, it is the consistent nitrogen pressure that helps it to perform better as an all season tire. Point to consider is that all season tires can sustain drastic changes in temperature and similarly, nitrogen does not change its pressure when the temperature changes.
Can You Use Nitrogen in Off-Road Tires?
Yes, nitrogen tires can also be used on off-road conditions and the main advantage here is the lower rolling resistance and the constant tire pressure.
However, in most cases you can get optimal performance through using air filled tires. Unless you drive a car or have key concerns about speed limit or consistent tire pressure, you are better off just using air in your tires.
How To Know If the Tire Uses Nitrogen or Air?
It’s simple, you have to look for the green valve stem caps and that will indicate there is nitrogen in your tire. On top of the stem caps, you will also find N2 mark, which will signify that there is nitrogen inside the tire. The stem cap itself will cost around $4.50.
Whereas, if the tire is filled with air then you will find a black or chrome type valve stem caps. It will cost you around $6.00.
Apart from physically looking at the valve caps, you can use a nitrogen analyzer to find out if the tire has nitrogen or air in it. Following will be the reading on the analyzer.
- 78% – The tire is filled with air
- 80% – 95% – The tire is filled with a mixture of air and nitrogen
- 95% or more – The tire is filled with nitrogen
If you want to use the nitrogen analyzer on your own, check this Nitrogen Tire Filling
Summary: Look for the valve stem caps in the tire, green color means that the tire is filled with nitrogen.
Does Nitrogen Leak More Than Air From the Tires?
No, in fact nitrogen will leak less than air from the tires. This is because of the larger molecule size of the nitrogen. Since the nitrogen molecule is relatively larger, it doesn’t leak out of the tire’s porous surface like air. Therefore, nitrogen maintains the tire pressure for a longer time.
Can I Refill A Nitrogen Tire With Compressed Air?
Yes, you can refill a nitrogen tire with compressed air and it will be completely safe. But you should purge your tire off then fill it up with nitrogen once you get access to nitrogen filling equipment. This is to ensure that the residual compressed air does not affect the advantages of a nitrogen tire.
Are Nitrogen Tires More Flammable?
No, nitrogen tires are not flammable. This is because the nitrogen gas itself is non-flammable and lacks the necessary requirement for combustion process like oxygen. Therefore, it runs cooler and is not prone to bursting out in flames.
Alright, so between Nitrogen VS Air in tires, you know which one you should choose. However, if you use nitrogen for filling up your tires, keep in mind about the cost and the frequency of finding the right filling station.
Finally, remember the best part is that you don’t need to worry about mixing nitrogen and air, but only do that when you have to.