Moron Nitrogen

Nitrogen only

I got this comment in another post
“ well, u r wrong about nitrogen. It has bigger molicules and does not leak through the tire as fast as regular air and has much less moisture. Over all it is much better, less corrosion, less tire pressure loss and it is reletively cheap. I have done a lot of researh in this area and it would help a lot of people keep proper tire presssure.”

First: Yes nitrogen is a bigger molecule, but remember your physics. The planetary atmosphere you are pumping into your tires is 80% nitrogen, the green valve caps mean you have 99%. That means only 20% is not on a normal car. But wait, theirs more! O2 molecules are large too. Some of this air has larger molecules, some smaller. In my experience checking tires all day long, the only reason to be more than 2 lbs off in 5000 miles is a problem such as a puncture. I have never seen a steel wheel corrode, (just rust on the outside) and I have only seen aluminum wheels corrode after 20 something years. Also, the majority of air leaking out of tires is through the bead and the valve stem on a good tire. The density of the air molecules has nothing to do with it. It’s like saying that if illegal aliens were skinnier, more of them would cross the border. The tires are just simply going to wear out from their natural run before they will ever see an advantage of pure nitrogen.

Another myth I thought was hilarious was when the demo guy at a convention tried to tell me that: “Nitrogen didn’t expand when the tires got hot.” Why is this funny? The internal combustion engine pushing those tires depends on a rapid expansion of nitrogen to function.

The reason pure nitrogen is used in racing is simply because that’s what’s in the nitrogen bottle. Since it’s a PITA have a compressor around when a nitrogen bottle works just fine, they run their air tools on it, and so it goes in the tires. Its less maintenance and easier on the tools because it contains no moisture. But, is easier to calculate the rate of expansion with great accuracy. Traction can be adjusted by calculating a difference as small as a tenth of a pound of pressure in each wheel.

Nitrogen is used in aircraft tire over a certain weight for safety issues. With no oxygen in the tire, the likelihood of a blow-out feeding a blast of air to an explosion is reduced. Anyone my audience driving through a moonshine stills in Hazard County?

Nitrogen doesn’t react with rubber. So… how ya gona keep air off the outside of the tire?
When I worked in electronics, rubber belts for hi-end equipment came in a hermetically sealed bag to keep the thing nice and even until it was stretched out of proportion by some kid trying to act like DJ Jazzy Jeff.

If you take your car to a decent service station where they check your tires as part of the service every 5k or so, your never gona have a low tire until it gets a hole in it. Then it wont mater if your tires are filled with nitrogen or Twinkie goo, its going to leak out.

What are the biggest benefits from nitrogen? According to Cecil of
(1) Cool fluorescent green valve stem caps (assuming your nitrogen vendor has any marketing savvy), which will look sharp with your spinning wheel covers. (2) Bragging rights. OK, you were behind the curve with cell phones, iPods, thong underwear, etc. Nitrogen in tires is relatively new to the mass market. Now’s your chance. (3) Reduced fire danger next time you land your space shuttle or commercial aircraft, and tell me you won’t sleep better knowing that.

The best thing to come from nitrogen:
Liquid nitrogen ice cream at Reed College

4 Responses to “Moron Nitrogen”

  1. Well, you got me there. This goes to show that research on stuff is better to do than believe the bable that the salespeople and manufacturers feed you. I guess the only really good thing about nitorgen is that it makes people aware of their tire pressure, the one bad thing I see is it just may give false security to people and then they will NEVER check the tire pressure.


  2. i didnt mean to make you feel bad, but after having my own bouts with sales people and manufacturers (including snap-on this week) Ive found that there is a reason for everything, both directions. If i had expensive wheels and tires, i would probably use nitrogen. Its not that expensive. Not because I believe the hype, but because i am tedious when it comes to some things. Especially when someone like Murphy stalks me.

  3. You did not make me feel bad, just silly for not researching the stuff before I listened to the hype.

    Weather beautiful here. Started riding a bike to work, it is 7 miles, but feels great.


  4. Hey! Thanks for the info you left on my blog. I’m going to take my car to a mechanic to see if the rest of it is okay. I just thought we;d replace the battery and be done with it but I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry. ;o)

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