Though you might consider the tread, profile and size of your car tires, what’s actually inside the car tire tends to be more of an afterthought for many people. Generally, standard air is put in most people’s car tires. But what about pure nitrogen? Some manufacturers fill high-performance car tires with nitrogen from the start, but what difference does nitrogen make over standard air? Your wholesale tire distributors company compares the two gasses to see what’s optimal for your car tires, truck tires, snow tires, or any other kind of tire.

Basics

To be clear, air is actually around 78 percent nitrogen, just under 21 percent oxygen, and the remaining one percent or so consists of water vapor, CO2, and small concentrations of noble gasses like neon and argon. So when Wholesale Tire compares nitrogen and conventional air, air is still mostly nitrogen-based, but not entirely.

High Performance

Nitrogen has certain scientific advantages as compared to air. However, these advantages are most noticeable only at the upper reaches of the car tire performance spectrum. Therefore, it’s not extremely likely that the average driver will reap any benefits from using pure nitrogen to fill up their car tires.

General Cost

Conventional air is almost universally available at repair shops, gas stations, and many other places in the world, for free or for a very small charge. With nitrogen, filling up your car tires may be a bit trickier, as nitrogen availability is not as common. If nitrogen is available, it’s expensive – generally costing $5-7 to fill each tire! A tire shop might even charge $70-180 for a complete nitrogen upgrade for your car tires.

Even if you do convert to nitrogen, the conversion process from standard air to nitrogen requires filling and deflating the tires with nitrogen several times over. Nitrogen must be 93-95 percent pure to be effective. If your nitrogen-filled car tires deflate when you’re out and about, and you’re forced to put air in them, no worries – air won’t have negative effects on your performance or handling, but you may have to recharge the tire with nitrogen to purge the air.

Tire Pressure

When it comes to tire pressure, nitrogen has an advantage over air. All car tires have microscopic pores through which any inflating gas, including nitrogen and air, will escape from over an extended period of time, gradually lowering the inflation pressure. Because nitrogen’s molecules are larger than air’s, nitrogen will move through the tire more slowly than air and will maintain the car tire’s inflation pressure longer.

Aging and Corrosion

Remember, air contains roughly 21 percent oxygen. Oxygen can retain moisture inside your car tires and eventually oxidize the internal car tire wall casing, which causes premature aging. In extreme cases, moisture and oxidation can even cause the car tire’s steel reinforcing belts to rust.

Nitrogen is an inert, dry gas and does not support moisture. Ninety-three to 95 percent pure nitrogen will prevent premature car tire aging and wheel corrosion due to internal moisture. Though this information is true, it might not mean very much to the average driver, however: Some experts say that under normal driving conditions, a car tire’s tread will reach its minimum usable depth well before any effect of oxidation on the car tire wall takes place. If your car is not regularly driven or sits in the garage, then nitrogen might be the way to go, but there are little practical benefits otherwise.

Special Use Tires

Nitrogen really shines when it is used for airplanes, race cars, and heavy equipment. Compared to regular, everyday car tires, these vehicles subject their tires to extreme temperature conditions, and nitrogen allows for better control over tire pressure as tire temperature increases.

With dry nitrogen, the effects of moisture are eliminated. Plus, the increase in tire pressure due to temperature is more linear and predictable than air. When it comes to race car tires, nitrogen tends to run cooler, which is vitally important because the grip of race tires is highly dependent on tire temperature.

Our Verdict: It Depends

Though nitrogen has distinct and obvious technical advantages over car tires filled with air, the benefits aren’t very practical if you’re a standard, everyday driver. If you seldom use your car and it frequently sits in storage, or you own a car that is primarily used at a racetrack, then using nitrogen to fill your car tires does have apparent advantages.

Ultimately, it’s your car whether you want to use nitrogen or air to fill your car tires. Using nitrogen won’t damage your tires in any way, though it is often more inconvenient and costly. Regardless of your decision, our wholesale tire shop has nitrogen and air covered.

Air or Nitrogen, Find the Right Tire For You