In the past, proper tire inflation was largely ignored by most motorists. Until this decade almost every motor vehicle sold in this country required an oil change or other maintenance service every three months or 3,000 miles, whichever came first. Virtually all competent service facilities check a vehicle\’s tire inflation every time they perform an oil change or other routine maintenance service. With no particular sense of urgency surrounding tire inflation, most consumers, if they thought about it at all, figured these routine services were enough to maintain their tire pressure. Recent advancements in engine technology, as well as overall vehicle quality improvements, have permitted vehicle manufacturers to extend the duration between required vehicle maintenance intervals.
Many vehicles now only require an oil change, or any scheduled service, once a year or even less. In other words, we are seeing our mechanics a lot less often, so the burden of maintaining our tire inflation has shifted to you, the motoring public.
Some tyre specialists now offer to inflate your tyres with pure nitrogen, and charge extra for it. Purified nitrogen has been used to inflate tyres on aircraft and racing cars for many years but does it really make sense for ordinary car tyres? The air we breathe, and the compressed air normally used to inflate tyres, is mostly nitrogen anyway 78% Nitrogen, 21% Oxygen and 1% other gases.
Slower rate of pressure loss because the nitrogen molecules are larger than the oxygen they ve replaced. Because of punctures, or Pure nitrogen might leak more slowly through the liner, but you d still have to check the condition and pressure of your tyres regularly. Corrosion is unlikely anyway with normal compressed air because only the outer tread band of a car tyre contains steel the amount of moisture reaching it from the inside is minimal. To change to nitrogen, the air already in your tyres has to be removed first. There will usually be a one-off charge per tyre but once filled with nitrogen, future top-ups would have to be with nitrogen if any advantages are to be maintained.
Overall, while accepting the possibility of purified nitrogen being of benefit in certain applications, we don\’t think that the cost and possible inconvenience are justified for normal passenger car use. At cruising height, temperatures may be as low as -40C and any moisture in aircraft tyres can freeze causing vibration and balance problems when landing. Pure nitrogen is dry so eliminates this problem. Using dried compressed air could achieve the same thing. In motor sport, they use pure nitrogen (or dried compressed air) to eliminate moisture in tyres which helps reduce tyre temperature at high speeds and loads.