Nitrogen vs Normal Air-Which is better for your tyres?
Published On 04-Jun-2021
The feud between nitrogen and normal air continues to intensify. We help you pick one.
- Nitrogen and normal air are the two popular air-filling options, and most people often get confused about which one to use.
- Nitrogen gas filling, as compared to a standard one, will cost you some amount.
- The infrastructure of Nitrogen gas-filling stations is yet to be fully developed.
- Nitrogen should be 93-95 per cent pure to be fully effective.
- Normal air can hold back moisture, while Nitrogen doesn’t support moisture, so, it prevents premature tyre wear.
- When it comes to air loss, Nitrogen has an edge over normal air since the former has more molecules than the latter.
- In terms of racing, Nitrogen gas has a clear advantage over normal air.
Though most of the people in countries like India aren’t familiar with the term Nitrogen-filling, the internet has been witnessing a war of words on this particular subject. So, if you are one of those keyboard warriors, we will try to decipher those cacophonies of claims in this article. Let’s get started.
Nitrogen vs Air – Cost and convenience
The word ‘economical’ gives a fellow feeling to every cost-conscious individual. Air is universally available at almost no cost if we specifically go with the term car and bike tyre filling. Any repair shop, service station and petrol filling station will do that for you at free of cost. But this is not the case with Nitrogen.
The infrastructure is not yet fully developed and at many places, you won't even find nitrogen gas. And where there is availability, there too you could be charged anywhere between Rs 40-50 for a single tyre. Reason? Converting air-filled tyres to nitrogen requires several cycles of fill and deflation to purge all the air inside the tyre. Nitrogen should be 93-95 per cent pure to be fully effective. However, in case of unexpected deflation, filling the tyre with ‘normal’ air will cause no harm in performance.
Nitrogen vs Air - Aging and wearing of tyres
Air comprises of 21 per cent oxygen and 78 per cent Nitrogen. Oxygen has the ability to hold back moisture inside the tyres which can eventually oxidize the tyre polymer or internal wall casing, causing premature wear. In extreme cases, the steel reinforcement belt can rust over time. On the other hand, Nitrogen is a dry gas that doesn’t support moisture and it can prevent early wear of tyre and corrosion in wheels.
However, many experts are of the opinion that under normal day to day driving conditions, the oxidation will not take place until and unless the tyre’s tread reaches its minimum usable depth. But in normal driving conditions, the practical benefit is minimal unless your car or bike is resting in place such as in Covid lockdown.
Nitrogen vs Air – Maintenance of tyre pressure
Nitrogen has a slightly upper edge when it comes to loss of inflation pressure. This is because molecules of Nitrogen are larger than that of air, thus moving slowly and maintaining the pressure for longer. But this difference is not significant enough to say that Nitrogen is better than air. If you are keen on checking tyre pressure regularly, you won’t even notice the difference.
Nitrogen vs Air – Cooling The dry Nitrogen does not retain moisture and the tyre pressure due to varying temperatures is straighter and more predictable as compared to air. This also means the tyre will run cooler especially in racing cars or high-performance vehicles as the road grip is highly dependent on the temperature of the tyre. So yes, Nitrogen has an advantage here when it comes to tyres of race cars or heavy equipment as they are thoroughly tested in extreme temperatures.
Conclusion So, what this comparison leaves us at? Nitrogen or regular air? Nitrogen does have minor scientific advantages, but the truth is they lie at the upper level of a tyre performance spectrum, and it’s debatable if the average driver will gain any benefits from using nitrogen. In plain English, if you are a daily driver, don’t fall into any of the above categories.