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seawulf575's avatar

Is filling your tires with Nitrogen a scam?

Asked by seawulf575 (12867points) February 23rd, 2018

I have always thought the idea of filling your tires with nitrogen was a scam. Today, at a tire store, I saw a sign on the wall touting the benefits of nitrogen in tires. And the reasons were either out and out lies or made no sense. Is there actually a valid reason for doing this?

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12 Answers

kritiper's avatar

To a degree, I think it is a scam. Where in the world will you find nitrogen to fill your tires with every time you check the pressure in your tires? The tire store. Will they charge you for the nitrogen? Probably. For plain old ease of maintenance issues, just fill your tires with plain old air and check your tires monthly when they are cold. (These days, tire stores (and others) are really going out of their ways to sell you SOMETHING! It sure isn’t about SERVICE anymore…)

elbanditoroso's avatar

If you’re a race car driver, then yes.

Everyone else, no.

Remember that air (the stuff you breathe) is 78% nitrogen already,

seawulf575's avatar

As a clarifier, there were two specific things they were advertising as reasons for why you should use nitrogen. The first was that nitrogen molecules are larger than oxygen molecules so the oxygen leaks out more quickly. The second was that moisture that might be in the air would cause the rubber to break down. Now, I may be missing something, but oxygen is farther up the periodic chart than nitrogen so it is a larger atom. And a nitrogen “molecule” would be two nitrogen atoms bonded together just like an oxygen molecule would be two oxygen atoms bonded together. So there is no way the nitrogen could possibly be larger. AND to say that individual molecules can leak out more quickly is just foolishness. The moisture is just as odd. How does moisture in the air cause the rubber to break down? And if that is how it works, why don’t my tires dissolve in a rainstorm?

Mariah's avatar

Nitrogen molecules are indeed larger (in terms of volume) than oxygen molecules. The greater number of protons in the oxygen atom means that the electrons are more strongly attracted and therefore sit a little closer to the nucleus than in nitrogen. It still seems wise to question whether this really has a measurable impact on permeability or not.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Informative article link

Bottom line: leakage not enough to make a difference.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

It is a “scam” in the sense there is little to zero benefit. 80% nitrogen works just fine (plain old air)

RocketGuy's avatar

If they fill with nitrogen, it would come from a canister/tank, and be pure N2. One would think that the lack of water vapor and O2 would be advantageous, but it seems not worth the money for regular folks.

seawulf575's avatar

@RocketGuy I might even go with the idea that you could control the pressure a little better from a bottle. But again….doesn’t seem that big a gain.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Moisture and TPM (Tire Pressure Monitors) don’t mix. The moisture can because a TPM’s to corrode and fail. At $120 a tire; it is insurance against the TPM failing. IF you have an accident and the insurance finds ( they can check the “Black Box” ) the TPM light was on they may cancel your insurance, you’ll pay the the bill from your checkbook.

Zaku's avatar

@Tropical_Willie Good thing cars come built with more over-engineered yet unreliable needless devices that can give insurance companies another excuse to mess with the owner. ... :-P

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Play with them if you want , but 5 years of insurance premiums turning into shit and a waste is not what I would do.

I had a neighbor 40 some odd years ago, that had a pheasant fly through the 8 foot wide picture window. When the insurance adjuster came, he walked past a wood stove. After measuring the window and calculating the installation. He asked my neighbor if he had permit for the the wood stove for the town. The answer was, “No and Why ?”. The adjuster told him his insurance was null and void because of the “Illegal wood stove”. Goodbye !

MrGrimm888's avatar

Sounds like a scam, for sure. I’m not even sure how they’d get all the air out first…

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