Case Studies

Nitrogen And Automotive Tires – Peanut Butter & Jelly Or Snake Oil?

Nitrogen in TiresThe Claim
You’ve likely see 0r heard the claim, “Nitrogen gives me better fuel economy, makes my tires last longer, and I don’t lose air from my tires. It’s more responsible for the environment.”

Nitrogen in TiresAll noble and good things, except…actually, we’re all riding on nitrogen filled tires. Let’s let that sink in for a moment and I’ll explain. So called “normal” air, that stuff is all around you and me, but we can’t see, is composed of 78% nitrogen. It’s free, and when we need to top off a tire, one doesn’t have to hunt around for tire dealer who sells nitrogen, they just need the closest air pump.

What nitrogen does excel at, according to industry/trade publications, is bringing the customer back to the tire dealer 3 or 4 times a year to obtain more nitrogen to top off normal air loss. True that some don’t charge for this service, but it let them get another look at your tires, and it offers additional sales opportunities for the tire dealer.

Litmus Test 
One thing that let’s me know when a product or technology has “arrived” is when I see it used on new cars. When the new car manufacturer decides that is standard, then I know it makes economic sense. A few years back BMW came out with a technical service bulletin about nitrogen use in their tires, I’ll see if I can hunt it in a few days to share here. Overall, their option was “not so much”.

To that point, I think of the “normal air” vs the nitrogen paradigm like this, some folks prefer tap water, others prefer a bottled water, nothing wrong with either, unless you’re on the Detroit water system.

Here’s a great article that goes into even more length about the use of nitrogen in automotive tires –

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Bruce and the AMC Service Team

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