In all the automotive industry I think the most controversial issue in terms of maintenance and tire care is the use of nitrogen. Of course just like in the medical industry everyone is looking for that “magic bullet”, you know what I’m referring to; the eat all you want diet and pop the pill or sprinkle the dust and lose weight. Then we can all shake and roll in the streets as the cop eats his donuts and the judge does cartwheels. Such is the same with nitrogen.
Is it worth the extra expense, of the hassle of finding a nitrogen dealer? Well in my very personal opinion I say YES. I have had only nitrogen in my vehicle‘s tires since 2009.
But to be fair lets go over all of the pros and cons, myths and facts. First off the need to keep your tire pressures at the recommended pressure is first and foremost of great importance. It really doesn’t matter if you fill them with air, nitrogen, helium etc. The fact is if the pressures are not right then this whole point is moot.
Because of the safety issues involved with low tire pressures, concerning blow outs , lack of handling and roll overs, almost every late model vehicle comes with a tire pressure monitoring system, most commonly known as TPMS. Under inflated tires cost Ford millions of dollars in wrongful death suits and tire replacements on the Ford Explorer.
Because of that many of us in the industry refer to the Explorer as the Exploder, and is probably the biggest reason that TPMS has become the norm rather than the exception.
1. All aircraft, military, heavy duty vehicle and road equipment are required to use nitrogen in their tires.
2. Nitrogen is a drier, inert gas that does not allow water to form.
3. Nitrogen molecules are larger than the oxygen or atmospheric air making it less likely to leak through rubber.
4. Michelin Tire Co. states that tires filled with pure nitrogen loses pressure 30% slower than tires filled with compressed air.
5. Nitrogen is non-corrosive because of its molecular structure.
6. Nitrogen is a cooler gas that reduces the heat generated within the tire, thus keeping the integrity of the rubber in the tires at its best.
Of all of these facts that I just listed the most important and most influential facts are that tires that are filled with pure nitrogen, run cooler, do not allow condensation to form and are less likely to leak through the sidewalls of the tires. Remember I stated that all aircraft tires must be inflated with nitrogen, can you imagine an airplane tire that has accumulated moisture within itself and that water freezing as the plane is airborne. That would amount to landing on a giant ice cube. Secondly those TPMS sensors that now in your tires are electrical devises and we all know that water and electrical should not be in the same sentence.
At $100.00 plus per sensor that can be an expensive proposition. Also water likes to rust steel and corrode aluminum. And most tires have steel belts that will rust from inside the tire. This means a tire that may look good on the outside can experience catastrophic damage without warning. This is especially prevalent on older low mileage vehicles.
Last but most important is the fact that the leading cause of poor fuel mileage is under inflated tires. Low tire pressure can reduce the efficiency of your fuel economy by as much as 10%. This means that if your tire pressures at properly inflated for longer periods of time the cost of you fuel can be reduced by $.36 a gallon and the longevity of your tires are guaranteed to exceed the average due to poor wear conditions caused by under inflation.
Given all of this information and combining the attributes of pure nitrogen use I certainly think that the conversion from compressed air to nitrogen is well worth the cost.
To sum it up with one simple statement I propose this: “the saving s in fuel, tire wear, loss of any corrosive properties that affect the electronics, and damage to wheels and steel cords, works out to the equivalent of buying 3 tires and getting one free.
Once again I have to close with PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE REDUCES THE COST OF OWNERSHIP.
MAINTENANCE STARTS AT MILE 0001.
P.S. This is a blatant bribe: When I had my radio show, it was driven by the interaction of my listeners and me. I can write about many things and never touch on the one subject that you may want to know about. So please send me any ideas, questions or subjects that you may want to learn more about and I use your idea, I will present you with a $25.00 Visa gift card.
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