3 Myths About Nitrogen-Filled Tires And The Truth Behind Them

If you consider yourself a car enthusiast, you've likely considered the option of nitrogen-filled tires at some point. Auto-shop attendants and other enthusiasts will be more than willing to offer you their opinion on this; however, there are a lot of myths prevalent that aren't quite true. Below are three of the most common myths regarding nitrogen-filled tires and the truth behind them:

Nitrogen-filled Tires Hold Pressure for Longer

One of the most widespread myths regarding nitrogen-filled tires is that they are much better at holding their pressure. The theory suggests that because nitrogen molecules are much larger than the oxygen molecules which make up compressed air, they will not be released as quickly.

However, the truth is that car owners are unlikely to see this action in process. Yes, oxygenated air will travel through a rubber membrane faster than nitrogen; however, the rate at which both penetrate the porous membrane is extremely slow. This means that car owners who pump their tire with nitrogen in the hope of keeping them inflated for longer likely won't see any benefit over the life of their vehicle.

Car owners may argue that benefit is seem in racing vehicles, so why not in leisure vehicles? Well, the reason for this is that racing cars are under much more pressure than normal vehicles. The excess pressure forces the gas into the rubber membrane, which is then released at a much faster rate. This process can also be seen in heavy-use vehicles, such as those used in the earthmoving industry.

Nitrogen-filled Tires Protect Against Corrosion

Many people believe that the inner lining of the tire will not suffer degradation from corrosion if filled with nitrogen. The theory is that oxygenated air causes corrosion of normal tires, and so replacing this oxygenated air with another inert gas will cause corrosion damage to significantly decrease.

While corrosion from oxygenated air is indeed a process that occurs in tires, it isn't one that is likely to cause drivers much worry. The reason for this is that the lifespan of a vehicle is significantly longer than that of a tire. While drivers can keep the same car for 8-10 years, the average driver changes their tires every 3-4 years. As such, the tires aren't used for long enough to really see the benefit of using nitrogen gas in place of compressed air.

With that said, corrosion can be heavily accelerated if the wheel and tire are exposed to water for a lengthy period of time. This may be seen in off-road trucks that are used for driving on boggy terrain. The high water content of saturated land means that current is able to flow from the tire to the water, increasing corrosion damage and reducing the life of the rubber liner. In these conditions, nitrogen may help to slow the damage as it would remove any water surplus water vapor present on the tire.

Nitrogen-filled Tires Have Cooler Running Temperatures

When air is compressed, any humidity present in the gas condenses and turns into liquid form. This liquid accumulates in the storage tank you use when filling your car tires up at the gas station. As such, when you fill your tire up with air, additional water is pumped into the lining of the tire.

When you begin to drive, the tire heats up significantly due to friction with the road. The water that was pumped into your tire turns back into a gas, expanding and exerting internal pressure onto your tire wall. With nitrogen, this doesn't happen as the gas carries absolutely no condensation.

However, studies have shown that the pressure change due to the evaporation of condensed liquid does not result in a significant change in temperature. Therefore, you won't see any tangible benefits regarding a decrease in running temperature if you choose nitrogen-filled tires.