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You are watching: Is nitrogen gas heavier than air

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If the hasn’t occurred to girlfriend already, as soon as you purchase and also mount a new set the tires on her car, friend will likely hear native the tires shop: “Nitrogen-is-better-than-air for her tires” ... And “we sell the nitrogen-fill choice at just $$” (generally $5 - $20 per tire).

For plenty of years now, nitrogen has actually been offered to fill aircraft tires, including the space Shuttle’s and also tires on gyeongju cars, but it’s use on street dare is relatively brand-new and rather controversial.

The tires shop will certainly tell you the nitrogen in your tires:

•Improves steering

•Improves handling

•Improves braking

•Reduces the possibility of tires failure

•Dramatically slows press loss from permeation

•Improves fuel economy

•Reduces tire oxidation

•Eliminates internal wheel corrosion

•Reduces running temperatures

•Decreases false alarms and also activation of her TPMS (tire press monitoring system)

As with many marketing over there is a little truth to it however the remainder is mostly warm AIR!


Nitrogen molecule (N2) are larger than oxygen molecule (O2) therefore therefore, pure nitrogen will penetrate the walls of your tires much less than oxygen molecules.

But by how much?

Well, a nitrogen molecule measures about 300 picometers while an oxygen molecule actions 292 picometers. That’s just a 2.6% difference in size. One picometer is equal to one trillionth the a meter (1 m / 1,000,000,000,000).


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Consumer Reports walk a study in 2006 wherein they measured push loss that nitrogen-filled Vs air-filled tires end a one year period. They took 31 bag of every season, automotive tires (H and V speed rated). One tire of every pair to be filled come 30 psi with air, the other tire from the pair to be filled to 30 psi with nitrogen. All 31 pairs to be then set aside, outdoors because that 12 months.

Their conclusion was the nitrogen does minimize tire press loss over time, yet the palliation is just 1.3 psi.

Air-filled tires, initially filled to 30 psi shed 3.5 psi over a one year period.

Nitrogen-filled come the same starting pressure of 30 psi shed 2.2 psi over the same period.

More importantly all tires shed pressure, so consumer should examine their tires pressures frequently regardless of the gas used.

The air around us, in our atmosphere, what we breathe and what is in most automotive tires is a mixture the gasses.

Air = 78% nitrogen + 20.95% oxygen + 1% other gasses ( 0.93% argon, 0.038% carbon dioxide, trace amounts of other gases and a variable amount that water vapor).

So, already all of the above claims room not true by 78% due to the fact that going to pure nitrogen will only replace 22% of the tire’s internal volume.

The cases of improved steering, handling and also braking, and reduced possibilities of tires failure and improved fuel economy are true for correctly inflated tires regardless of the gas supplied to to fill them.

Then yes the claim about the palliation of interior tire oxidation because nitrogen is inert and also oxygen is corrosive. Ns don’t think any type of of us have ever before replaced a tires that had internal rubber decay because of oxygen corrosion. Although that is partly true –oxygen is corrosive-, her tires will wear out plenty of times over prior to oxygen starts to damage the rubber material. If this case were true and also oxygen causes rubber corrosion the quickly, what around the external of the tire? the is exposed come 22% oxygen also if you have actually pure nitrogen ~ above the inside!

Some people additionally will phone call you the tires filled through nitrogen don’t adjust pressure as much with warm as those filled with air, or that tires filled v nitrogen run cooler than those through air and that’s why most race cars consisting of F1, Indy and NASCAR all usage it.

Again, no true.

At the temperature (150 – 250ºF) and pressure (25 – 45 psi) thresholds found in gyeongju tires, both air and nitrogen will act together “ideal gasses”, definition that they will certainly react exactly the very same to temperature and also pressure.


Oh, I nearly forgot. There space those that case that due to the fact that nitrogen is lighter than air you’ll conserve weight and have much better performance.

OK, therefore let’s analysis this one, ns mean, less unsprung weight is good, no?

The load difference between oxygen and nitrogen is less than 3%, yet let’s take it the complete 3%.

One liter of wait is roughly equal to 1 gram so there are around 13.88 grams of air every tire, 55.52 grams in every 4 tires. Nitrogen is 3% lighter 보다 oxygen, yet there’s just 22% oxygen in air, therefore the distinction in weight from all 4 tires is 0.3664 grams, it is a lining one third of a gram!

Here’s the math: 55.52 gr x 0.03 x 0.22 = 0.3664 gr

To put it in perspective, one official ping pong round weighs 2.7 grams.

So, in essence, filling your tires through nitrogen i will not ~ hurt anything and will provide some minimal benefits.

But, is it worth it?

Absolutely ... If you go to Costo or other shops whereby it’s a complimentary service through your brand-new tires.

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But payment an median of $10.00 per tire is absolutely not worth it.

Furthermore it may give you a false feeling of protection where you i will not ~ regularly examine your tires. Remember, even filled with pure nitrogen your tires will shed pressure end time.