Nitrogen vs Normal Air in Tyres: Advantages and Disadvantages Explained

Rahul Jha
Rahul Jha

Updated on: 11th June, 2024 IST

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Nitrogen vs Normal Air in Tyres

When it comes to the air you put in your car's tyres, you might not think twice about it. After all, it's just air, right? Well, not exactly. In recent years, there's been a growing debate about whether to fill your tyres with nitrogen or stick with good old normal air. 

In this blog, we’ll look into the use of nitrogen in tyres, examine its benefits and drawbacks, and its impact on tyre pressure. Let’s dive in!

Why is Nitrogen Filled in Car Tyres?

Understanding why nitrogen is used in car tyres is important. The primary reason for nitrogen usage is its unique properties. Nitrogen is an inert gas, meaning it doesn't react with other substances or corrode the inside of tyres. This inert nature ensures stable tyre pressure over time, which is especially valuable in diverse climate conditions.

With nitrogen, your tyres experience fewer pressure fluctuations caused by weather changes, leading to improved fuel efficiency, better handling, and enhanced safety. 

While regular air is readily available, nitrogen offers consistent performance and durability, addressing the specific challenges faced by Indian drivers.

Nitrogen vs Normal Air

In the quest to make the right choice for your car's tyres, understanding the differences between Nitrogen and Normal Air is important. From cost considerations to safety implications, each element plays a crucial role in your driving experience. 

Here's a simplified table to help you understand some of the key differences between the two:

ParametersNitrogenNormal Air
Cost of InflationHighLow or Nil
AvailabilityMay not be easily available everywhereEasily available at all fuel stations, tyre shops, and dealers
Pressure RetentionNitrogen molecules are larger, leading to slower pressure loss and longer retentionNo significant difference in pressure loss compared to nitrogen; minimal if any
Tyre TemperatureResults in cooler tyre temperaturesLeads to higher tyre temperatures compared to nitrogen
Tyre MaintenanceTricky without a nitrogen filling station; not recommended to be mixed with normal airEasy to maintain; normal air filling stations are widely available
Tyre WearSlower tyre wear due to stable pressure and absence of moistureHigher tyre wear due to unstable pressure and potential oxidation
SafetySafer with lower chances of a tyre explosionLess safe with higher chances of a tyre explosion

Also Read: India Car Tyre Air Pressure (PSI) & Size Chart

Advantages of Nitrogen

It's important to understand the advantages of using nitrogen in your car's tyres. Here's why it can be a wise choice:

1. Stable Pressure

  • Nitrogen's larger molecules result in slower pressure loss, helping to maintain a more consistent tyre pressure over time
  • This means fewer trips for pressure checks, especially crucial during long journeys

2. Tyre Longevity

  • Stable pressure and the absence of moisture in nitrogen contribute to reduced oxidation inside the tyres
  • This can lead to a longer lifespan for your tyres, ultimately saving you money on replacements

3. Improved Fuel Efficiency

  • Consistent tyre pressure is directly linked to better fuel efficiency
  • With nitrogen, your tyres stay at the right pressure, reducing rolling resistance and saving on fuel costs over the long haul

4. Reduced Corrosion

  • Nitrogen lacks the moisture and corrosive elements present in regular air
  • This absence helps extend the life of your rims and valves, reducing maintenance expenses

5. Enhanced Safety

  • Consistent tyre pressure ensures better traction and handling
  • It enhances your vehicle's safety by providing better control, even in challenging driving conditions

Disadvantages of Nitrogen

While nitrogen offers several advantages, there are a few disadvantages that should be weighed against the benefits before deciding whether to use it for your tyres. Let's take a closer look at some of them:

1. Cost

  • Nitrogen is expensive  compared to regular air, which is often available for free or at a minimal charge at most fuel stations and tyre shops
  • This cost factor can be a significant consideration, especially for budget-conscious drivers

2. Accessibility

  • While nitrogen offers benefits, finding a filling station can be a challenge, particularly in remote or less urbanised areas of India

3. Compatibility

  • If your tyres are filled with nitrogen, and you need to top up while on the road, you may face challenges
  • Mixing nitrogen with regular air can diminish some of the advantages of nitrogen, making it less effective

4. Maintenance

  • Consistently maintaining nitrogen levels can be a hassle if you don't have easy access to a nitrogen filling station

Also Read: Difference Between Climate Control and Air Conditioning

Advantages of Normal Air 

Using regular air for your car's tyres in India offers simplicity and cost-effectiveness due to the following factors:

1. Availability

  • Normal air is widely accessible at service stations, tyre shops, and even with portable air compressors, ensuring convenience wherever you travel
  • It's readily available in both urban and rural areas, making it a practical choice for all motorists

2. Cost-Effectiveness

  • Regular air is typically free or comes at a minimal cost, making it a budget-friendly option
  • This is especially beneficial for those on a tight budget or looking to reduce maintenance costs

3. Convenience

  • Topping up your tyres with normal air is easy and can be done at almost anywhere 
  • You don't need to search for specialised filling stations, making it a hassle-free choice

4. Emergency Accessibility

  • In remote areas or during unexpected situations, having access to regular air allows for uninterrupted journeys
  • This can be a crucial factor when travelling to less urbanised areas

Disadvantages of Normal Air

Using regular air for your car's tyres in India does come with certain drawbacks, which are important to consider:

1. Pressure Fluctuations

  • Normal air contains moisture, which makes tyre pressure more susceptible to changes in temperature fluctuations
  • In India's diverse climate, this means you may need to check and adjust your tyre pressure more frequently

2. Oxidation

  • Oxygen present in regular air can lead to oxidation of the inner tyre components, including the steel belts and rims
  • This can potentially reduce the overall lifespan of your tyres, increasing the frequency of replacements

3. Fuel Efficiency

  • Inconsistent tyre pressure can negatively impact your vehicle's fuel efficiency
  • Regular air's tendency to cause variations in pressure can result in increased fuel consumption, especially in the long run

Also Read: Preventing Tyre Burst Reasons

Cost of Nitrogen

When considering the cost of using nitrogen for your car's tyres in India, it's important to take into account several factors:

1. Service Charges

  • Some places may provide nitrogen filling for free as part of their service, while others may charge a nominal fee
  • The cost can vary between ₹50 to ₹200 per tyre, depending on the service provider and location

2. Initial Investment

  • If you decide to switch to nitrogen, there might be an initial investment in purchasing a nitrogen inflation kit or visiting a specialised filling station
  • These kits can range from ₹2,000 to ₹10,000 or more, depending on the brand and features

2.  Cost vs. Benefits

  • Evaluate the cost of nitrogen against the potential benefits it offers, including improved fuel efficiency, longer tyre life, and reduced maintenance expenses
  • Calculate potential savings on fuel and fewer tyre replacements over time

3. Availability

  • Consider the convenience and availability of nitrogen filling stations in your area
  • If they are scarce, factor in the cost and effort required to access them

Can you Mix Air and Nitrogen in Tyres?

The flexibility of mixing air and nitrogen in your car's tyres can be advantageous, especially in emergencies or when nitrogen isn't readily available. Here's what you should know:

1. Compatibility

  • Tyres filled with nitrogen can be safely topped up with regular air (but, only if extremely urgent)
  • This is particularly useful if you're in an area without nitrogen-filling stations

2. Maintaining Nitrogen Benefits

  • To retain the advantages of nitrogen, aim to keep the ratio as nitrogen-heavy as possible during top-ups
  • This ensures that the benefits of stable pressure and reduced oxidation are not significantly compromised

3. Regular Checks

  • After mixing, monitor your tyre pressure and consider re-filling with nitrogen as soon as possible to restore the desired nitrogen-to-air ratio

Also Read: When Should You Change the Tyres of Your Car?

The Bottom Line

In the debate of nitrogen vs. normal air for your car tyres, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Your choice should depend on your priorities and the availability of nitrogen in your area. If you're willing to invest in consistent pressure and potential long-term savings, nitrogen might be worth considering. 

On the other hand, if you prefer the convenience and lower cost of normal air, it's a perfectly acceptable choice. Ultimately, both options will keep your car safely on the road.

FAQs

Q. Is nitrogen the same as air?

No, nitrogen is not the same as air. While air contains about 78% nitrogen, it also includes oxygen, carbon dioxide, and other gases.

Q. What are the properties of nitrogen vs. air?

Nitrogen is an inert gas, which means it doesn't react with other substances. It also has a lower rate of permeation through tyre rubber compared to oxygen. Air, on the other hand, contains various gases, including oxygen, which can lead to pressure fluctuations and oxidation inside the tyre.

Q. Is it OK to mix nitrogen and air in tires?

Yes, it's generally okay to mix nitrogen and air in your tyres in emergencies. However, it's best to maintain a higher nitrogen content for the benefits it offers.

Q. Can I fill nitrogen gas in tubeless tyres?

Yes, you can fill tubeless tyres with nitrogen. The benefits of stable pressure and reduced oxidation apply to both tubeless and tube-type tyres.

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

While filling your tyres with nitrogen can improve stability and handling due to consistent pressure, it may not dramatically impact the overall ride quality. Other factors like tyre type, tread, and suspension play a more significant role in ride comfort.

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