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Protect Your Car's Winter Tires By Filling Them With Nitrogen

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Car-racing movies and video games have made nitrogen oxide (NOx) famous for providing an instant boost of speed. Nitrogen isn't just for late-night street races in movies and video games, though. Pure nitrogen, without oxygen, can be used to improve car tire wear -- especially during the winter. This winter, to protect your snow tires, have them filled with nitrogen when you have the tires put on your vehicle. Here's how nitrogen will keep them in good condition.

Keep Rims From Corroding

Tires that are filled with air often collect water inside of them over time. Water vapor is in air, and it can condense inside a tire. Additionally, many gas stations don't properly maintain their air compressors, and water can condense and collect inside the air compressors' hoses. If you've ever felt water come out of an air compressor, it was from water that had collected. When a car tire is filled with air from a compressor that has water in it, water can enter the tire.

When water collects inside a tire, it can corrode your car's rims. Because the water rusts the rims from the inside-out, there may be no sign that your car's rims are being destroyed.

When tires are filled with nitrogen, the tires are filled and then flushed multiple times. Each time they're flushed, more water vapor and liquid water is removed.

Reduce Tire Wear During Temperature Swings

As HowStuffWorks explains, nitrogen has a more consistent rate of contraction and expansion than plain air. Thus, the air pressure in nitrogen-filled tires will change less when the temperature changes than the pressure in air-filled car tires, because nitrogen doesn't contract or expand as much as air. This has benefits for auto racers who adjust their car's steering with minute changes in air pressure, but it also has benefits for everyday drivers who use snow tires during winter.

Winter brings cold weather, but even the coldest season of the year also usually has some warmer days. Snow tires are especially susceptible to pressure changes during these temperature swings, because they're made of a softer rubber than standard car tires. If the proper air pressure isn't accurately maintained, snow tires will wear quickly -- faster than normal tires that have stronger rubber.

Filling your snow tires with nitrogen will help reduce how much the air pressure in them changes when the temperature swings. It'll be easier to maintain the proper pressure in them so they don't wear faster than they should.

Eliminate Slow, Minor Leaks

If your winter tires have slow leaks that make them go soft every few weeks, you may be able to eliminate those minor leaks by filling the tires with nitrogen, which is a larger molecule than water.

Water, or H20, is smaller than molecular nitrogen, N2. Water only has 10 protons and electrons in total (1 from each hydrogen atom and 8 from the oxygen atom), while molecular nitrogen has 14 protons and electrons (7 from each nitrogen atom).

A difference of 4 protons and electrons may seem small -- and it is -- but it makes a significant difference. If you have a hole you can see in your tire, both water and nitrogen will leak out. Extremely small leaks that aren't visible to the naked eye, though, may be large enough for water vapor to escape through but not big enough for molecular nitrogen to leak out.

Driving on any car tire that's soft reduces fuel efficiency, but it's especially detrimental to snow tires. Because snow tires are made of soft rubber, their sidewalls will quickly break down if they aren't supported by the right tire pressure. Thus, if your snow tires go soft every few weeks, filling them with nitrogen may be an easy way to keep them properly inflated and protect their sidewalls.

Snow tires provide additional traction in snow and ice, but they aren't as strong as regular car tires. Protect your snow tires this winter by having them filled with nitrogen, so they'll last all winter long and perhaps for several more cold seasons.

For more information about car tires, contact a company like Jensen Tire & Auto.