Traditionally, tires have been filled with air, which consists of a mixture of gases, primarily nitrogen, and oxygen. However, in recent years, the use of pure nitrogen in tires has gained popularity.
Nitrogen is known for its larger molecular size, which reduces the likelihood of leakage compared to oxygen and other gases found in the air.
But what happens if you’re running low on tire pressure and need to pump air at the nearest gas station? This brings us to the big question…
Can you mix air and nitrogen in your tires?
Yes, you can safely mix air and nitrogen without causing any harm to tires. In fact, many vehicles have tires that are already filled with a combination of air and nitrogen.
The air and nitrogen will blend together without adverse effects. It’s worth mentioning that topping up with regular air will introduce some oxygen, which may eventually cause a slightly higher pressure loss over time compared to using pure nitrogen. Nonetheless, the difference is usually negligible in typical driving conditions and can be easily compensated by regular tire pressure checks and adjustments.
While it is possible to mix air and nitrogen in tires, do understand that doing so reduces the benefits associated with using pure nitrogen tire inflation. The advantages such as improved tire life, fuel efficiency, stability, and consistent pressure can be compromised when air is introduced. Air contains moisture, smaller oxygen molecules, and other gases that may affect tire performance over time.
The Nitrogen Advantage
Nitrogen tire inflation offers a range of benefits that contribute to improved tire performance and longevity.
|Stability||Nitrogen’s larger molecular size makes it more stable within the tire, reducing the risk of pressure fluctuations due to temperature changes. This stability ensures that the tires maintain optimal pressure, providing better handling and traction on the road.|
|Consistent Tire Pressure||Nitrogen-filled tires tend to maintain consistent pressure over a longer period compared to those filled with air. With nitrogen, you experience fewer instances of underinflation or overinflation, which can lead to uneven tread wear, decreased fuel efficiency, and compromised safety.|
|Reduced Expansion||Nitrogen exhibits less expansion and contraction with temperature changes compared to regular air. This characteristic makes nitrogen inflation particularly beneficial for high-performance applications, such as on race tracks, where precise tire pressure is critical for optimal performance.|
|Slow Leakage||Nitrogen molecules are larger than oxygen molecules found in air, which means they are less likely to escape through the tire’s rubber compound. As a result, nitrogen-filled tires experience slower leakage, allowing for longer intervals between pressure checks and adjustments.|
|Lower Moisture Content||Unlike air, which contains moisture, nitrogen is dry and has significantly less water vapor. This is advantageous for the inside of the tire, as moisture can lead to corrosion of the rim and other components. Nitrogen inflation helps reduce the risk of moisture-related damage and extends the overall lifespan of the tire.|
Air Doesn’t Take Away All the Benefits of Nitrogen Tire Inflation
Yes, air does not take away all the benefits of nitrogen tire inflation. While it is true that mixing air with nitrogen in tires reduces some of the advantages associated with using pure nitrogen, it doesn’t completely negate all the benefits.
While mixing air with nitrogen diminishes the benefits of using pure nitrogen, such as improved tire life, fuel efficiency, and stable tire pressure (as mentioned earlier) it is important to note that it won’t cause immediate problems or safety hazards. Many drivers successfully maintain their tires with a mixture of air and nitrogen without experiencing significant issues.
However, if you are seeking to maximize the advantages of nitrogen tire inflation, it is recommended to opt for pure nitrogen fills whenever possible. This is especially relevant for specific applications like professional racing or situations where precise tire pressure control is crucial.
Your Tires Won’t Explode
A. Misconception of Tire Explosions:
One common concern related to mixing air and nitrogen in tires is the fear of tire explosions. It’s important to address this misconception and provide accurate information. Contrary to popular belief, mixing air and nitrogen in tires does not pose a significant risk of tire explosions.
B. Safety in Mixing Air and Nitrogen:
The tire industry acknowledges that it is acceptable to mix air with nitrogen in tires without safety concerns. Tire manufacturers and industry standards recognize that adding air to nitrogen-filled tires for pressure adjustment is a practical and safe approach. This acknowledgment is based on extensive research and testing, ensuring that the combination of air and nitrogen does not create a hazardous situation.
Tire explosions are extremely rare and are usually caused by factors unrelated to the use of nitrogen or air. These factors may include severe tire damage, overinflation, or incorrect tire maintenance. When proper tire maintenance practices are followed, including regular pressure checks and adequate tread depth inspections, the risk of tire explosions is minimized.
It’s Tough to Find Nitrogen Tire Inflation Services
Finding nitrogen tire inflation services can pose a challenge due to the limited accessibility of nitrogen compared to regular air. While some auto repair shops may offer nitrogen inflation as an additional service, they may not advertise it as a standalone option. Additionally, certain places that sell nitrogen tires may not provide nitrogen tire inflation services at all.
The availability of nitrogen tire inflation services varies depending on the location and type of establishment. Let’s explore the differences:
Many tire shops and automotive service centers offer nitrogen tire inflation services. These establishments are often more accessible and provide a cost-effective option for nitrogen fills. They understand the benefits of nitrogen and cater to customers looking for this specialized service.
Dealerships may also offer nitrogen tire fills, but their pricing structures can be significantly higher compared to tire shops. Some dealerships may charge a premium for the convenience of the service, which can lead to a substantial increase in cost.
How Much Does It Cost to Refill Nitrogen Tires?
Cost Factors of Nitrogen Tire Refills:
The cost of refilling nitrogen in tires can vary depending on several factors. It’s important to consider these factors when determining the overall expense of nitrogen fills. Let’s explore some key cost considerations:
- Location and Availability: The cost of nitrogen tire refills can be influenced by the location and availability of nitrogen inflation services. In areas where nitrogen tire inflation is more accessible, such as tire shops and automotive service centers, the cost tends to be more affordable. However, in locations where nitrogen services are limited or require specialized equipment, the cost may be higher.
- Service Provider: Different service providers may have varying pricing structures for nitrogen tire fills. While some establishments offer nitrogen as a standalone service with a separate fee, others may include it as part of a package or maintenance program. It’s important to inquire about the specific costs associated with nitrogen inflation at your chosen service provider.
Typical Range of Costs for Nitrogen Fills:
The cost of refilling nitrogen in tires can range from relatively low to more substantial amounts. On average, nitrogen tire fills at tire shops and automotive service centers typically range from $5 to $10 per tire. However, note that prices may vary based on the factors mentioned earlier, including location and service provider.
When considering the cost of nitrogen tire refills, do weigh the benefits against the expenses. While nitrogen inflation offers advantages in terms of tire performance and longevity, just ensure that the cost aligns with your budget and priorities.
Can you fill a tire with air when nitrogen is in it?
You may be tempted to fill your tires with both air and nitrogen to see if there is any difference in the way it feels. But you should know that nitrogen will not escape from mixed tires, so you’ll have nothing to compare. It’s also important to remember that the air around you contains 78 percent nitrogen if you are wondering how much of it is inside your tires.
Where Can I Find A Nitrogen Tire Inflation Service Near Me?
To locate a nitrogen tire inflation service in your area, you can explore the following options:
- Inquire at your local Costco: Contact your nearby Costco to inquire if they provide self-service nitrogen tire inflation. They may offer facilities where you can conveniently inflate your tires with nitrogen.
- Contact local tire shops or dealerships: Reach out to local tire shops or dealerships and inquire about their nitrogen tire inflation services. They may have the equipment and expertise to perform nitrogen fills for your tires.
- Utilize online directories: Online directories such as NitroFill or Nitrogen Tire Inflation can be valuable resources for finding nitrogen tire inflation services near your location. These directories provide comprehensive listings of businesses that offer nitrogen inflation services.
Check with gas stations or convenience stores: Some gas stations or convenience stores that have air compressors may also offer nitrogen tire inflation services. It’s worth checking with these establishments to see if they provide this service.
Can I fill my tires with nitrogen at home?
It is possible to fill your tires with nitrogen at home. It’s a small, lightweight cylinder that you can plug into the tire’s valve stem and it will fill your tire with nitrogen. Whether or not it’s cost-effective is another story.
You can find these small cylinders online or at some local retailers. It will cost about $40 – $50 for the cylinder and about $20 for each refill of your tires.
If you have a few extra dollars to throw around, you might want to buy one of these and see if you notice any difference in handling between using air and nitrogen in your tires.
What are the disadvantages of nitrogen?
- Nitrogen is more expensive than air.
- It will take longer to go flat because the pressure is regulated better with nitrogen.
- It takes more work for technicians to fill tires with nitrogen, so costs can increase when you need it done.
Robert Anderson is a world class motorhead who rebuilt his first carb at age 10, his first engine at age 15, and completed his first full hotrod build when he was just 18! Previously, he has ran a part warehouse, delivered pizzas, and managed the service department for a $20 million/year revenue dealership. Robert knows cars like few others and he is passionate about sharing his knowledge.