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Nitrogen for Tires — Not Just a Bunch of Hot Air

Just when you were worrying about America going soft — now, you need to worry about your tires doing the same. Or at least, so says Scientific American in its Sept. 30, 2008 issue.
The magazine cited a study by tire maker Bridgestone, which found that 93.5% of cars on European roads have underinflated tires — wasting an astounding 2.14 billion gallons of costly petrol annually. “Analysts believe that a similar percentage of North Americans are driving around on underinflated tires as well,” said the magazine story. Pump up the volume!
One way to keep your car’s tires rolling freely and improve tire wear and gas mileage is to check your tire pressure weekly — and add air when needed. But who can remember to do that?
Take it from racers —nitrogen is a gas, gas, gas
Today, everyday drivers are discovering what racers have known for years — nitrogen offers significant benefits for tires.
  • Better gas mileage
  • Decreased wear
  • Enhanced performance
Why? Two reasons:


  • Nitrogen molecules are larger than oxygen molecules, so pure nitrogen is
    less likely to leak out of your tires’ sidewalls than regular air — which consists of 21% oxygen and 78% nitrogen. More consistent inflation means higher gas mileage and less tread wear.
  • Plain old air has water vapor in it; nitrogen does not. Under high temperatures, water vapor causes air to expand more than pure nitrogen. This increases roll-out and stagger — impacting your performance and again, shortening the life of your tires.
Let Borelli Motor Sports care for your car
Borelli Motor Sports not only provides highly secure, climate-controlled storage at Club Auto Sport in San Jose, but we also have Scott Riechers — our own ASE-certified mechanic — on-staff, who cares for our customer’s cars.
Scott’s knowledge and experience — including his expertise in using nitrogen in Borelli Motor Sports’ race car tires — make him a valuable member of your car’s team. Let Scott diagnose problems before they occur, check and top off your fluid levels, or fill your tires with nitrogen — to keep your car running right.
So now you know — nitrogen for your tires is not just a bunch of hot air.
Car Rental Storage at Borelli Motor Sports —
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Compare Borelli Motor Sports to any other storage option you may be considering. For secure museum-quality storage, first-rate services, and your keys to Club Auto Sport — Borelli Motor Sports takes the checkered flag. For more information, contact Ralph Borelli. E-mail [email protected], or call (408) 453-4700 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (408) 453-4700 end_of_the_skype_highlighting




Take a Virtual Tour of the Borelli Motor Sport facility!

Month-to-month or longer term. With all the club benefits or á la carte. You’ll find the affordable, top-quality storage you need at Borelli Motor Sports. For more information, contact Addison Lee. E-mail [email protected], or call (408) 770-1220 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (408) 770-1220 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.



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Borelli Motor Sports is located within Club Auto Sport
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We used it regularly at the racetrack on the superbikes. seems there is less pressure fluctuation due to temp with nitrogen than there is with air. That makes it easier to make tire pressure a constant rather than a variable while looking for 10ths of a second in lap times.
 

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We used it regularly at the racetrack on the superbikes. seems there is less pressure fluctuation due to temp with nitrogen than there is with air. That makes it easier to make tire pressure a constant rather than a variable while looking for 10ths of a second in lap times.
It's also free - the machines pulls it right out of the air.

Not exactly sure what the cost of the machine is but those dealers charging for this make it back in the first month operation.
 

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We used it regularly at the racetrack on the superbikes. seems there is less pressure fluctuation due to temp with nitrogen than there is with air. That makes it easier to make tire pressure a constant rather than a variable while looking for 10ths of a second in lap times.
It's also free - the machines pulls it right out of the air.

Not exactly sure what the cost of the machine is but those dealers charging for this makes it back in the first month.

DIY

TIRE VAC, Suck Air & Moister Out, Put Nitrogen In, NEW on eBay!
 

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Doug- That would be the cheapest molecular sieve I ever saw. Usually you have to order the carbon molecular sieve filter material in ton or half ton lots.
 

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Doug- That would be the cheapest molecular sieve I ever saw. Usually you have to order the carbon molecular sieve filter material in ton or half ton lots.
It's such a simple idea - why everyone doesn't use nitrogen is beyond me in fact it should be the only way to fill tires.

Terry's nitrogen stations has a nice ring to it :)

The Tire Vac vacuuming tool:

To fully enjoy the benifits of using dry nitrogen in your race tires you need a Tire Vac. Most racers know that by filling their tires with nitrogen reduces the pressure buildup and size change as the tire heats up. Tire Vac is the affordable way for the weekend racer to remove unwanted moister filled air from racing tires before filling them with dry nitrogen.
 

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Sooo....If you fill your tires with air (78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen) then wait for the air to escape (leaving 100% nitrogen) and refill with air, then repeat that process 2 more times the effect will be near 99% Nitrogen in your tires.

How's that for one cheap ass molecular sieve (and car owner)?

J/K of course.
 

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The only real benefit on steet cars is you need to check your tire pressure less often since they don't leak down as fast. Can't imagine it making a car handle better unless you don't check your tire pressures?

The only reason we use it on racecars is that it is dry and cheap compared to other dry gases. We check the tires every session anyway so we could use argon or helium but they cost more. Oxygen is cheap and dry but not a good idea for obvious safety reasons. I think the only street cars that benefit are the ones that belong to people that don't check pressures or have a compressor to fill them up when they are low. Even then are you going to bring the car somewhere with N just becuase you are a pound or two low. I bet more people are driving on low pressures becuase they can't fill the tires themselves and put off taking the car somewhere to top off with N.

All gases have the same coeficient of thermal expansion. The only thing that matters to races is that it is dry and not explosive.
 

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The dry is the big point and that is the main reason for nitrogen. The water vapor in the tires varies much more in pressure with temperature change. Aircraft tires (and pneumatic systems) are filled with nitrogen for that reason. Helium is used in aerospace applications, especially satellites, because it is the lightest inert gas available (obviously) and often used in bottles with up to 8000 psi. Helium is not really suitable for tires because the molecule is so small it leaks much more, and, like KK said, is very expensive.

I fill my tires with a compressor and overfill and let sit overnight before setting pressures. Works fine for street tires. The water vapor does cause a rise in pressures while driving, but only about 3-5 psi on the street, even the autobahn.

The other advantage of nitrogen is it is pretty much inert, so does not react with the tire material and tire sensors/valves as much as pressurized ambient air with oxygen and other oxydizers.
 

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I have a small nitrogen bottle and 2 stage regulator that I picked up from a local welding supply house, then rigged it with the necessary fittings for my shop. $50 initial investment, and refills of the bottle cost about $10.

I use the N2 for pressure testing stuff where it would be dangerous to use air or O2. I haven't switched to using it in my tires yet.
 

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The dry is the big point and that is the main reason for nitrogen. The water vapor in the tires varies much more in pressure with temperature change.
So then the answer is to put the water separator and about a 50' coil of hose in the shop beer fridge with a supply and feed fitting on the sides. The shop air goes in, drops to 40F or so which cause nearly all the water to condense and get picked up in the water trap and you get nice dry air out.

The $20 solution or free if you already have a spare length of air hose :)
 

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Mark- No shop at all.
 

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Mark- No shop at all.
:yikes: That can't be right??? :yikes:

Ok we can get through this! Go to the store and get a 50 section of hose, the cheap thins walled plastic kind will work best I'd think and a water separator. Then coil it up in a small bucket, tub or cooler with about a coulpe feet of each end sticking out, then fill it with water and freeze it. Once it's frozen solid you have a portable water vapor remover that you can take it to your local gas station or use at home or the track with a little portable 12V compressor to fill your tires with dry air. :)
 

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I have not worked in a shop in years that did not already have a very effective water trap/drier in the system. Most systems are designed for the ability to use in a paint shop and water is just not OK in that environment, much less what it does to all the air tools being used.

Terry, when you say you get 3-5 lbs of pressure change from moisture. From New Mexican air? Really? I bet pure, dry nitrogen will expand every bit as much on your 150 degree asphault. You are not living in Corpus Christie where heat and humidity are the same number.


The shop asked me the other day if I wanted to pay extra for nitrogen in my new Harley tires. I just laughed.



When in college I worked for Goodyear and got a very good education in tires. While that was the relative stone age in tire tech I have kept up on it to a small degree.

What we are fighting is Z rated tires. Higher speed capabilities require tire designs that can deal with the high heat high speeds generate in them. That is fought in several ways. One is to choose materials that can cope with heat and another is to prevent the heat build up. One way to prevent build up is to reduce mass. One of the parts of the tire that is sacrificed to that end is the inner layer of rubber, the very low porosity, heavy rubber thats only mission in life is to keep the air on the inside. That is reduced to a minimum on Z rated tires in part because the drivers of the types of cars requiring those tires are believed to be more on top of keeping their tires inflated.
 

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Sooo....If you fill your tires with air (78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen) then wait for the air to escape (leaving 100% nitrogen) and refill with air, then repeat that process 2 more times the effect will be near 99% Nitrogen in your tires.

How's that for one cheap ass molecular sieve (and car owner)?

J/K of course.

True though. Tires are an effective nitrogen filter.
 

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Brian- I do have to admit we had three days in a row last week with 7% humidity at 6 pm, and I saw 2% last summer. So far, my little tankless compressor works fine and I have a Longacre tank I just need to complete with a quick release and I will be set.
 

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Since air is made up of many gasses including hydrgen and oxygen there really is no such thing as dry air since you have the two components that make up water. It certainly helps to use a filter dryer on your air but it is not completly dry.

Save your money and check your tire pressures often. Even with Nitrogen you will still see a rise in pressures of 6 to 8 psi on a hot race tire. Much more if there is moisture since a racing slick often see temps over the boiling point of water. Often see tire temps over 220f in the pits and over 300F on the track
 
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