With gas prices on the rise, and the summer travel season just around the corner, a lot of drivers are thinking about fuel efficiency and how to cut their gas spending. Even if it’s for the sake of saving a few dollars, there’s a way to save money on gas, improve your fuel efficiency, and do some good for the environment all at the same time. It’s called nitrogen tire inflation.
Nitrogen tire inflation is simply using nitrogen in your tires instead of regular air. It’s possible to make the switch at your local auto repair shop, or to purchase new tires with nitrogen already in them. Making the switch may not seem like it would make a big difference in fuel efficiency, but the benefit to using nitrogen instead of regular air is that nitrogen maintains proper tire pressure better, and for a longer period of time.
Proper tire pressure improves fuel efficiency between three and five percent, and with gas prices going the way they are, three to five percent can mean something to the pocketbook. Also consider the fact that 85 percent of people don’t know how to check their tire pressure, and that 50 percent of people drive on at least one underinflated tire. This means that quite a few people are wasting gas, and wasting money, simply because their tire pressure isn’t what it should be. Although nitrogen shouldn’t be considered as an alternative to checking tire pressure regularly, it’s helpful for busy people who are always on the go, who need that extra tire pressure for longer periods of time.
How does nitrogen accomplish all this, and how is it better than regular air? Regular air contains oxygen and water vapor, both of which are much more reactive than nitrogen to the temperature changes that take place to the tires during a drive. Those temperature changes affect tire pressure reads (which is why it’s recommended to check tire pressure when the tires are cold). Regular air also permeates from tires faster than nitrogen, so tires with regular air do not retain proper tire pressure as long as a nitrogen tire. Nitrogen tires perform better not necessarily because nitrogen is so great, but because oxygen and water vapor aren’t as good for tires and for fuel efficiency.
Saving gas is already one way to help the environment (driving less and using less fossil fuels make a difference), but many aren’t going to give up driving for good. For those who still need to be driving, nitrogen tire inflation is the way to contribute to the environment, and the pocketbook.
By: Allison Midori Reilly