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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Nitrogen vs. Compressed Air

I recently bought new tires for my RV and they came filled with nitrogen. My question is, if I need air while on a trip, can I get the air replaced with nitrogen or do I just use air from then on? What are the pros and cons? Roland P. (Phoenix, AZ)

Roland, as with many things relating to tires and weight safety, I often ask my friend Walter Cannon to chime in from time to time, just to make sure we're on the same page. Especially in those gray areas like the topic of nitrogen in RV tires. Walter is the Executive Director of the RV Safety & Education Foundation (www.rvsafety.com), a non-profit agency dedicated to helping all facets of the RV Industry. Here's what Walter had to say:

Roland's question is quite typical during discussions of the use of nitrogen in RV tires. Let's start with the importance of maintaining proper air pressure. It is far more important to keep the proper air pressure in the tires than whether you use nitrogen or air. The air we breath is nearly 80% nitrogen, so adding air to a tire that requires more pressure will not dilute the nitrogen that much.

Nitrogen pros:
The process of extracting nitrogen from the air makes it very dry. This is a positive attribute as moisture holds heat and the nitrogen filled tire will cool faster.
Nitrogen molecules are larger (3X) than oxygen so the natural migration of air through the tire will be much slower.

Cost and Availability.

The bottom line is that nitrogen is a good product but refrain from buying into the "better mileage" or "longer life" of the tire. Just be sure to always maintain the proper pressure and check it often.


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