Air Or Nitrogen On Tires?

Posted by: Minas Soulis

Let See The Facts

Tires are not accidentally called “black gold” by the drivers as they are the only point of contact between the car and the road. No matter how sophisticated a suspension is, how many electronic systems it has to control a model if the tires are not properly treated, the dynamic features of the car are practically in the “air”. And what was happening with the inside of the tire? And specifically with the gas shaping its shape and smooth operation?

We analyze and report what – and if – it has to offer more than just the nitrogen from the traditional air. Are they based on what they say is the ideal choice or are “words of the air”?

Where did the nitrogen come from?

As a practical application, nitrogen was originally used to fill the tires on the landing gear wheels of the planes. The extreme temperatures at which they are exposed can reach up to -40 degrees Celsius and freeze the air humidity molecules.

Which means that if airlines filled the tires with air, the interior would be filled with rigid molecules that would cause vibrations and turbulence on landing, and the sudden changeover to temperature from cold to hot as the tire on the runway, could easily cause a sudden loss of pressure or even splintering – with the consequences of not needing a description.

Nitrogen molecules are affected to a minimum by moisture relative to air, and are even larger which helps keep them intact in the tire chamber. These attributes – endurance to extreme temperatures and better occupancy – have “solved” the hands of Formula 1 engineers who use nitrogen to have less chance of overheating and pressure loss – something we have seen quite often can not avoid it. So imagine what would happen if it was air in the place of nitrogen.

What about the Plain Air?

All of the above apply to the corresponding “extreme” operating conditions. There, indeed, the nitrogen retains an unparalleled advantage over the common air. But how much do we drive at -40 degrees Celsius or do we need to brake more than 300 km / h?

The Air consists of 78% of nitrogen, 21% of oxygen and the remaining 1% of various other gases. 21% of oxygen is causing the abovementioned vulnerability to moisture, with consequent changes in operating temperature and loss of pressure. The latter should be attributed to the smallest size of the air molecules, which allows them to “escape” from the inside of the tire leading to our known regular pressure control.

Otherwise, the molecular properties are known: it expands to the temperature increase (this is why we reduce the summer pressure) and it contracts to decrease it (respectively, we increase the psi in winter). Somewhere here are the disadvantages of air in relation to nitrogen.

Is It Worth it or is "Too Much For Nothing"?

The biggest difference between the two choices is cost and availability. Airplanes are free at any gas station, any free area. Nitrogen filling is more complicated, as it requires a specialized tire or liquid fuel station (quite rarely the second) and usually requires a fee, which can reach up to 20 euros. There are also some – fewer – exceptions that offer filling without charge, but the rule wants the nitrogen to burden the pocket.

Ultimately, its usefulness lies with the sector in which a car is operating. If you frequently visit a track, especially in the summer months, nitrogen will save you the trouble of controlling pressures every three and a half, minimize the chances of overheating and increase the longevity of the tire structure. Also, if you’re bored to control the nitrogen pressures every week, it increases the time to 3 months.

In any other case, 78% of the nitrogen coming out of the neighborhood gas station nozzle does its job.