Stop in the Name of Nitrogen

            With all of the snow, sleet, and black ice, driving around Rochester in the winter is a dangerous experience, even if your car is in pristine condition. Why add to that danger by driving around with underinflated tires?

            Don’t worry; we’re not trying to make you feel guilty if you don’t check your tire pressure very often. Even if you do try to maintain your tire pressure, you may find it depletes extraordinarily fast. The reason behind this is that the oxygen in air has a frustrating habit of running away from your tires. How can you combat this problem and maintain your tires? Meet nitrogen.

            Although it might sound new and different, military organizations and NASCAR drivers have been using nitrogen in their tires for years. While both nitrogen and oxygen will eventually leak out of your tires, nitrogen does so at a much slower rate (up to five or six times as slow), because of its larger molecular structure. When your tires lose air, they increasingly drag on the road, which along with the high speed of driving, causes heat build up. While heat may sound comforting after a quick step outside into the Rochester air, your tires have a different opinion about heat. Over time, the increased heat can cause a tire blowout, which can lead to an accident you’d probably like to avoid.

            Nitrogen is also less reactive than oxygen, which means that rust won’t build up on the metal rims, as it would with using air in the tires. If safety and eliminating rust weren’t enough for you to decide nitrogen may be the better choice in tires, you might want to know that multiple studies, including one done at Clemson University in 2007, have shown that switching to nitrogen increases fuel efficiency. The study at Clemson showed a 3% increase when there was a tire maintenance program in place, but oxygen was used, and a 6% increase in fuel efficiency, compared to those who didn’t perform any tire maintenance.

Not only does that increased efficiency save gas money, but it plays a part in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. For every gallon of gas saved, about 20 pounds of carbon dioxide are prevented from being released (according to an analysis done by the EPA in 2005). The next time you’re going for a drive, think about the car accidents you could be preventing, the money you could be saving (without switching your car insurance), and the carbon dioxide emissions you could be decreasing, just by maintaining your tires with nitrogen. Go ahead and give into this pressure.

One Reply to “Stop in the Name of Nitrogen”

  1. That’s one helpful tip everyone can use. However, it’s kind of unusual to find some tire shops offering nitrogen as an alternative filler. I gotta research where to get mine serviced.

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