August 1, 2006


Nitrogen a gas for better mileage (David Sharp, August 1, 2006, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Many motorists seeking to improve their mileage as gas prices soar this summer are examining everything, right down to the air in their tires. And for a growing number, plain old air isn't good enough.

George Bourque of Fairfield, Maine, is one of those who is driving around on tires filled with pure nitrogen, the same stuff that NASCAR racers use.

Mr. Bourque, an engineer, said he has seen a 1- to 1.5 mile-per-gallon increase since he began filling his tires with nitrogen, which is touted as maintaining tire pressure longer and resisting heat buildup on hot summer days.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 1, 2006 12:45 PM

I'm quite dubious about this.

And in any case, I've added air to my current tires dozens of times, so they must be nearly pure nitrogen now anyway...

resisting heat buildup on hot summer days

Guess they don't buy this thermodynamics bunk, either.

Posted by: Mike Earl at August 1, 2006 1:45 PM

This doesn't quite make sense to me, either. Resisting heat build-up might be good when racing, to preserve the optimum shape of the tires, but it shouldn't hurt your everyday mileage. On the contrary, over-inflated tires (within reason) get stiffer and should increase your mileage.

Posted by: PapayaSF at August 1, 2006 2:07 PM

Mr. Bourque, an engineer, said he has seen a 1- to 1.5 mile-per-gallon increase since he began checking his tire pressure regularly, which used to be a chore, but which he looks forward to now that he's bought himself that bottle of pure nitrogen.

Posted by: joe shropshire at August 1, 2006 2:13 PM

A new status symbol.

Posted by: Sandy P at August 1, 2006 3:26 PM

Sandy P:

Re similar posts recently about how something's not chic after Walmart starts selling it, just wait until word gets around that you can get nitrogen in your tires at Costco.

Posted by: Rick T. at August 1, 2006 3:34 PM

Fill them with enough helium, and you can float away...

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at August 1, 2006 3:48 PM

Anybody that would spend $20.00 to get tires for the average auto filled with nitrogen is an idiot. If the tire pressure has to be perfect, is it checked at the same temp everyday.

If people don't think there is already water in their tires they should watch them being mounted, the tires are lubed down with a soopy solution that is not dried before filling the tire with whatever you like. And there is the issue about the 1 atmosphere presure of air that is already in the tire at mounting. Does the dealer get a vacuum pump and remove it?

If Air and Nitrogen are heated to the same temp the pressure will be the same.

Everything that is done in racing is to maintain consistancy, to stay on the track or to grab it for drag racing where 1 lb can make the difference of winning and loosing Aircraft tire pressure gages and racing gages are more precise.
I am sure that water is not used to mount the tires.
It's not for fuel economy.

I like the comment from the guy that says after filling his tires 10 times most of the oxygen is gone already anyway....alright some.

Posted by: James S at August 2, 2006 8:17 PM