Nitrogen tyre inflation in cars: Advantages and disadvantages

Team Ackodrive6, Jun, 2022

The tyres are the only contact patch between your car and the road surface. Hence, they play a vital role in the handling and ride quality of the vehicle. Tyre pressure is one of the factors that impact the physical condition of the tyres. If you own/drive a car, you must have noticed people filling nitrogen in tyres. So, what is the use of filling nitrogen gas in tyres? Read ahead to find out the answer as we discuss one of the most debated topics amongst car enthusiasts.

Nitrogen tyre inflation in cars

Benefits of filling nitrogen gas in tyres

Before we dive into the benefits of filling nitrogen gas in car tyres, you need to understand what kind of gaseous properties it has. In simple terms, nitrogen is a non-toxic, non-flammable, tasteless, odourless and colourless inert gas, and it forms about 78% of the earth’s atmosphere.

Below are the advantages of filling nitrogen in tyres.

  • Reduces running temperature: Nitrogen helps to reduce the running temperature of your car’s tyres resulting in enhanced tyre life

  • Increases tyre life: Filling nitrogen enhances tyre life. The rate of tyre wear purely depends on its operating temperature (the tyre temperature when the vehicle is on the move). Since nitrogen reduces the working temperature, it slows the tyre wear.

  • Stable temperature than normal air: Nitrogen is also more stable than normal compressed air or oxygen. The rise in temperature of a nitrogen-filled tyre remains moderate during the heat cycle. It results in a longer tyre life.

  • Can operate in high temperatures: Generally, tyre pressure increases in high temperatures. However, tyres inflated with nitrogen offer a stable pressure range irrespective of the tyre temperature. So, you need not worry about tyres bursting in extremely high temperatures.

  • No rusting: Unlike oxygen, nitrogen does not react with metal components like the wheel rim. Hence, there are no chances of rusting. In contrast, a tyre filled with oxygen may react with the moisture inside the tyre and cause oxidation.

  • Enhances fuel efficiency: Nitrogen also has a positive impact on the fuel efficiency of your car. Since oxygen escapes faster from the tyre, it may reduce the tyre pressure. And low tyre pressure causes stress on the engine, and in turn, the fuel economy drops. Whereas nitrogen escapes slower than oxygen and retains the tyre pressure for longer. However, the improvement in fuel efficiency may not be much, and you may not even notice it.

  • Improves ride quality: Nitrogen may also improve the ride quality since it retains tyre pressure more effectively. The optimum tyre pressure makes for comfortable ride quality, especially when you drive at high speeds on highways.

  • Safer tyres: Nitrogen filled tyres are also safer than tyres with normal air. That’s because the pressure range remains stable in a nitrogen tyre irrespective of the temperature. 

The pressure range may be unstable in a normal air-filled tyre if the temperature is too hot or cold. If the temperature is too high, the tyre pressure may increase dramatically, and the tyre may explode.

Nitrogen in tyres: Disadvantages

While there are a host of benefits of using nitrogen to inflate your car’s tyres, it also has some disadvantages. Below are some of the cons of filling nitrogen in tyres.

  • Expensive: One of the main disadvantages of nitrogen inflation is the cost. It's more expensive than normal air or oxygen, which you can even fill up free of cost.

  • Maintenance: You have to maintain the nitrogen-filled tyres, which can be tricky at times. You cannot fill normal air once you start using nitrogen. That's because if you mix nitrogen with normal air, it will lose its beneficial properties.

  • Availability: Nitrogen may not be easily available everywhere. Only certain fuel stations and tyre dealers may have nitrogen filling stations.

Nitrogen vs normal air in tyres

Now, you know the key benefits and disadvantages of using nitrogen to inflate your car’s tyres. In this section, let’s compare nitrogen vs normal air in tyres based on the parameters mentioned in the table below.

Parameters Nitrogen Normal air
Cost of inflation High Low or nil
Availability It may not be easily available everywhere. Easily available at all fuel stations, tyre repair shops and tyre dealers.
Lose of tyre pressure Nitrogen molecules are larger than normal air molecules. Hence, loss of pressure happens at a slower rate, and the tyre retains the pressure for a  longer time. There is no significant difference between pressure loss in nitrogen and normal air tyres. The difference is so insignificant that you may not even notice it.
Tyre temperature Cooler than tyres filled with normal air. Higher temperature than nitrogen-filled tyres.
Tyre maintenance It can be tricky if you cannot find a nitrogen filling station as you cannot mix it with normal air. Easy to maintain as you can find normal air filling stations everywhere.
Tyre wear The tyre wear is slow due to the stable pressure and absence of moisture. Tyre wear rate is high as the pressure range is not stable, and it may cause oxidation which leads to rusting.
Safety Safer than normal air-filled tyres as the chances of tyre explosion are very low. Not as safe as nitrogen-filled tyres as the chances of tyre explosion are high.

Cost of nitrogen filling in car tyres

The cost of nitrogen tyre inflation may vary depending on your location, condition of tyres (if the tyres are already filled with nitrogen or oxygen), the filling station, etc. However, let's look at the average cost of nitrogen filling in car tyres in the following example.

Example: If the tyres are already filled with nitrogen and you're just topping up, it may cost you around Rs. 10 per tyre. In total it should cost you around Rs. 40 to Rs. 50 to inflate all four tyres with nitrogen.

On the other hand, if you are filling nitrogen for the first time, it may cost you around Rs. 40 to Rs. 50 per tyre. The bump in the cost is because it requires several cycles of inflation and deflation of the tyre to remove the oxygen from the tyres.

Note: The cost of nitrogen filling may vary from one location to another. Hence, please check the price at your nearest fuel station, tyre repair shop or tyre dealer.

Can you mix air and nitrogen in tyres?

As mentioned earlier, you cannot mix normal air and nitrogen in a tyre. If you end up mixing both, it will defeat the purpose of using nitrogen. In other words, when you mix normal air and oxygen or vice versa, nitrogen loses its beneficial properties. So, it’s not productive to fill nitrogen if you combine both normal air and nitrogen.

Also, read: ACKO Drive Online Car Buying Process

So, which is better? Nitrogen or normal air?

We have covered all the benefits and disadvantages of nitrogen in car tyres. Hence, you should be able to figure out which is best for you. In general, nitrogen has a lot of advantages over normal air, and some crucial benefits include enhanced tyre life and safety. So, filling your car tyres with nitrogen is a good option.

However, if you are concerned about the cost and availability of nitrogen, then you may stick with normal air. Since there are no significant advantages of using nitrogen, filling oxygen in car tyres will not cause any hindrance. Significantly, it won’t affect your driving experience.

Frequently asked questions

Below are some of the frequently asked questions and answers related to nitrogen gas in car tyres.

Is it worth filling nitrogen in car tyres?

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Yes, it is worth inflating the tyres using nitrogen as it offers a host of benefits over normal air or oxygen. The main advantage is that it makes the tyres safer and enhances their life.

Can I fill nitrogen gas in tubeless tyres?

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Yes, you can go ahead and fill nitrogen in tubeless tyres. Converting a normal air tubeless tyre into a nitrogen tyre is an easy process.

How often should I refill my car’s nitrogen tyres?

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Typically, a tyre with normal air loses around 1.5 PSI of pressure every month. In the case of a nitrogen-filled tyre, the same amount of pressure loss may occur across two to three months. So, it’s sufficient enough to refill the tyres every 2-3 months.

Is filling nitrogen in tyres more expensive than filling normal air?

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Yes, filling nitrogen costs more than filling normal air in car tyres. The cost depends on your location. Typically, it can cost around Rs. 10 per tyre for a nitrogen refill. However, these prices are subject to change depending on the fuel station/tyre dealer/tyre repair shop.

Will nitrogen cause any harm to my car tyres?

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No. Nitrogen is a dry gas without any moisture. Hence, it does not react with any component inside the tyre and will not cause any damage.

Can I fill nitrogen in any fuel station?

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Generally, nitrogen is not easily available everywhere. Only a handful of fuel stations, tyre repair shops and tyre dealers have nitrogen filling stations. You can check at your nearest fuel station for the availability of nitrogen.

Does filling nitrogen gas in tyres increase my car's mileage?

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Yes, nitrogen in tyres does positively impact the car's fuel economy. However, the improvement in fuel efficiency may be very insignificant, and it could be hard for you to notice the changes. All in all, it may improve the mileage, but not drastically.

Does filling nitrogen in tyres improve the ride quality of my car?

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Like fuel efficiency, you will not notice any drastic improvement in the ride quality by filling nitrogen gas in tyres. However, since nitrogen retains tyre pressure for a longer time, the car's overall handling should be better than those running with tyres filled with normal air.

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