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Many drivers are concerned about sustainability when it comes to their vehicles, and inflating their car tires is no exception. Supposedly, there are many benefits to filling your car tires with nitrogen instead of air. You’ll have better fuel economy, reduced resistance, a lower possibility of dry rot, and less tire pressure loss over time.

Consumer Reports recently conducted a study to see if tires inflated with nitrogen stayed full longer. The research also tried to determine whether inflating your wheels with nitrogen is really as beneficial as we think. Here’s the truth behind your tires.

Consumer Reports’ nitrogen study

Consumer Reports conducted a study using 31 different models of tires to see if there was a notable difference in the rate the tires held plain air over time versus the tires filled with nitrogen.

Each tire model was filled with 30 psi (pounds per square inch) of air, while a second tire was filled with 30 psi of nitrogen at room temperature. Then, both tires were placed outside for a year.

Results of the car tire study using nitrogen

Surprisingly, researchers saw only a minor difference in deflation between the tires filled with nitrogen and the tires filled with plain air. On average, the wheels with air showed a loss of 3.5 psi, while the tires with nitrogen lost an average of 2.2 psi — a total difference of 1.3 psi after 12 months.

Consumer Reports found that nitrogen-filled tires were only slightly less inflated after one year than the air-filled tires. Furthermore, filling your tire with nitrogen is expensive. It costs about $5 more to completely inflate a tire at the time of the study. Locations that sell nitrogen for tires are not as available to most people. You may have to drive dozens of miles out of the way to fill tires with nitrogen. 

Is nitrogen worth it?

In the end, Consumer Reports concluded that “using nitrogen is not worth the money or the inconvenience.” Since nitrogen-filled tires did not dramatically reduce deflation, the average driver is better off using plain air.

You can make your wheels last longer if you avoid driving with under-inflated tires by checking them regularly. This would ultimately reduce the number of tires that must be manufactured. In theory, using nitrogen to fill car tires makes some sense. But, in practice, it just isn’t worth the money or inconvenience.