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Is Filling Tires With Nitrogen Worth It?

Posted in Car Accessories, Car Care, Car Tech, FAIL, Maintenance, Safety, Tires by Kurt Ernst | July 29th, 2010 | 6 Responses |

Does that price include fresh blinker fluid, too?

If you’re being charged $49.95 plus tax, as is the case in this ad from Porsche Center of San Antonio, the answer is a resounding “no”. Despite this ad’s claims, nitrogen does nothing to improve ride quality or fuel economy, and won’t prevent false tire warning lights any better than plain old air will. The key to getting a smooth ride, maximum fuel economy and no tire pressure warning lights is simple: regularly check your tire pressure when your tires are cold.

Nitrogen is a larger molecule than oxygen, so it does seep from tires at a slower rate than air. How much? About three times slower, which means your tires will stay properly inflated three times longer. If it’s a major inconvenience for you to check tire pressure, then by all means step up to nitrogen if you can get it cheap. If you have to pay more than a few bucks per tire, it’s just not worth it.

Why do race teams use the stuff instead of air? In racing, tire pressure is absolutely critical, and nitrogen filled tires don’t change pressure with heat as much as air filled tires do. When you’re talking about tenths of a second being worth thousands of dollars, the cost of a tank of nitrogen is just part of doing business.

Hats off to The Truth About Cars for printing this ad. If you see similar scams by you, send them my way. I’d be happy to start running a “scam of the week” piece.

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6 Responses

  1. 68SportFury says:

    I’ve wondered about it myself. My mother recently had new tires put on her ’00 Stratus (the old ones were from 2002 and literally falling apart) and had the shop call me at work to OK the job. I was multi-tasking and didn’t even think about the extra cost of the nitrogen fill, so I got an earful when she went to pick up the car and the bill was higher than expected.

    Having to return to the shop that installed the tires to have one patched and refilled with nitrogen after a flat didn’t thrill her too much, either.

  2. Kurt says:

    SportFury, do you remember what they charged to fill all four? How about for the repair? I’m just curious.

    As dealer service revenue declines, it seems like they’re always coming up with new ways to bleed money from unsuspecting customers. I think I’ll move forward with the “Scam of the Month” idea…

  3. […] Is Filling Tires With Nitrogen Worth It? (ridelust.com) […]

  4. Rob says:

    I’m an apprentice tech at a Hyundai dealership in Ottawa, Ontario, and we started offering Nitrogen around the beginning of the year. I don’t know how the sales guy managed to convince management that it’s a good idea, but I personally disagree with it. I try to avoid working on cars whose owners have requested this “service” because while it’s nice to make money, I don’t like the idea of scamming people for a buck.