Will nitrogen improve tire performance? - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Will nitrogen improve tire performance?

Are the claims about nitrogen just a lot of hot air? (Source: WOIO) Are the claims about nitrogen just a lot of hot air? (Source: WOIO)
(WOIO) - Some claim there are benefits of using nitrogen to fill your tires instead of regular air. Race cars and airplanes use it. We take a look at the benefit for regular cars.

It looks, fills, and sounds like regular air. But the tire shops that offer to fill your tires with nitrogen insist that it's better. The idea is that you will have to fill up your tires less often, get better gas mileage, along with less wear on the tires.

Matt Jones, of Edmunds, agrees, explaining nitrogen molecules are larger than oxygen molecules.

"It's less likely to diffuse and that's what keeps your tire more inflated than regular compressed air," he says.

But not everyone's pumped about the idea of spending $5 to $15 to fill a tire.

"I think the nitrogen-filled-tire thing is a scam," Car Talk's Ray Magliozzi says, stating the claims are...overblown, if you will.

Many on various car forums agree."Everyone's entitled to their opinion," says Dan Brancaccio of NitroFill, a company that sells nitrogen-filling systems to dealerships.

He stands behind the claim on NitroFill's website, claiming that it provides a "great new profit center for your service department."

"It's a great retention program. What they do with that retention is up to them," he says.

And since you can't get nitrogen just anywhere, they can charge a premium.

So is it worth it?

Jones says, "The jury's out if the value's still there."

Most agree free nitrogen is fine, but think twice before paying for it.

Costco stores, which require a membership, provide nitrogen for free with the purchase of tires.

Bottom line: Are the claims about nitrogen just a lot of hot air?

"It depends on how much you have to pay."

A few years ago, Consumer Reports tested regular tires against nitrogen filled tires. They found that nitrogen tires maintained tire pressure slightly better than regular air.

If you want to try it, you can put nitrogen in the tires you have now. 

Learn more on the topic, as well as locations which provide nitrogen:

-Clearing the Air About Nitrogen Tire Inflation

-Get Nitrogen Institute

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