Automotive

Published on September 29th, 2020 | by Amirul Mukminin

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Nitrogen in Tyres – What are the Benefits?

You might have heard the argument that using nitrogen rather than regular air to inflate tyres has certain benefits, especially when it comes to performance and fuel efficiency. But is there any truth to this claim? Well, as it turns out, there is.

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Before we go any further, let’s get the facts straight. The compressed air that we get from petrol stations and tyre shops already contain 78% of nitrogen, 21% oxygen and the rest is just the combination of miscellaneous gases as well as water vapour. So, there’s a possibility that the difference is not very significant when you switch from air to nitrogen.

Still, nitrogen has its advantages, which is why it is often used in racing, aviation and commercial vehicles. First and foremost, it is better at maintaining your tyre pressure longer due to its larger molecules, which means it doesn’t seep through as quickly as air. According to Chemical & Engineering News, tyre pressure loss is slowed down by about 40% with nitrogen. However, this doesn’t mean that regular checks are not needed.

Racing teams have also figured out that nitrogen reacts less to temperature swings. As we all know, gases expand when it’s hot and contract when it’s cold. Using nitrogen will result in a more consistent inflation pressure during a race as the tyres heat up when in use. This is vital because small changes in pressure can make a huge difference to the way a race car handles.

Some people claim that nitrogen can prevent tyre rot and corrosion of the wheel by limiting the moisture inside the tyre. This might be true, considering that nitrogen is an inert gas, which means it’s nothing more than dry air with oxygen removed. In contrast, compressed air contains a certain amount of water vapour that can be harmful to your tyres and wheels. Just ask anyone who has used an air compressor for impact guns or any pneumatic tools.

So these are some of the benefits of using nitrogen to inflate tyres. But are they big enough to justify the price tag (shops will charge you a few ringgit per tyre) and inconvenience? Unless you drive a race car to work or own an aircraft, we’d say nitrogen is unnecessary but there’s no harm in trying. As the adage goes: the proof is in the pudding.

Have you used nitrogen to inflate your tyres before? Share your thoughts and experience in the comments below.

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