Ever since we started driving, we’ve been using air to fill up our tires. As of late, more and more people, specifically those who sell nitrogen, are arguing that nitrogen is a superior substance for filling tires. They tend to claim that nitrogen is better for fuel economy and can lengthen the life of your tires. However, filling your tires up with nitrogen actually provides minimal benefit while costing you a pretty penny. Here are three reasons why you shouldn’t fill your tires with nitrogen.
It’s a Ripoff
For starters, many dealers who push nitrogen as the superior element for tires often charge you an outrageous amount for the service. When purchasing a new car, some dealers try to pass off nitrogen-filled tires as an upgrade, which has been known to cost the customer anywhere from $69 to $179.
Not only is this an outrageous price to pay initially, but the actual cost of refilling the nitrogen in your car’s tires will run you around $6 per tire each time you refill. That’s a total price of $24 that you’ll need to pay every time the air pressure in your tires drops, which is big difference between the $1 or $2 required to fill all of your tires with oxygen at the local gas station.
Checking Your Tire Pressure Monthly Has the Same Effect on Fuel Economy
Nitrogen supporters claim that filling your tires with nitrogen instead of oxygen will improve your vehicle’s fuel economy. The EPA does say that under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by .3 percent for every 1 psi (pounds per square inch) drop in all four tires. Since nitrogen loses pressure at a rate slightly slower than air, you are more likely to be at the right psi and get better fuel economy.
However, the difference is very minimal and can easily be offset if you check your tire pressure monthly. Given the high price of using nitrogen, it makes more sense from a cost perspective to stick with air, pick up an accurate tire gauge for a few dollars, and keep a closer eye on your tire pressure.
Finding a Local Nitrogen Provider Is Difficult and Inconvenient
Once you have filled your tires with nitrogen, you need to stick with it. While this may not seem like an issue when you’re driving your new car off the lot on nitrogen-filled tires, finding a local nitrogen provider is often difficult and inconvenient if you have to drive across town or even to the next town over to fill up.
While most gas stations have a tire filling station for air, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any local gas stations with a nitrogen pump. Major tire shop chains like Discount Tire and Wal-Mart do not offer nitrogen tire filling services either. This leaves you and your nitrogen tires out of luck, unless you want to head back to the dealer and pay a hefty fee.
There are a few benefits to filling your tires with nitrogen instead of air, but given the high cost of nitrogen and the lack of local nitrogen suppliers, the benefits hardly seem worth it. Instead of jumping on the overpriced nitrogen bandwagon, keep an eye on your car’s tire pressure and refill them as needed.