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Polk's Top 7 Reasons to Consider Using Nitrogen (vs. Compressed Air) in RV Tires

Mark Polk, motorhome  and motor coach maintenance expertBy Mark Polk
RV Education 101

When I was at the National RV Trade show I noticed more and more RV manufacturers advertising that the tires were filled with nitrogen. Nitrogen has been used to inflate tires in racecars, airplanes and over-the-road trucks for many years. What do these people know that we don’t?

I have personally never used nitrogen in any of my tires but thought it was worth looking into.

Here are my top 7 reasons why you might consider using nitrogen, as opposed to compressed air, in your RV tires.

1. Nitrogen is a dry gas and therefore contains no moisture. Oxygen in compressed air contains moisture and is known to cause oxidation, which can damage the wheels and deteriorate the tires over time. I see the advantage of nitrogen here.

2. Tires lose pressure through a process called permeation. The smaller the molecules the more the tire will leak air. Tires inflated with compressed air can lose 1 to 3 pounds of air pressure per month. The molecules in nitrogen are larger than molecules in oxygen. Nitrogen-filled tires hold the pressure in the tires much longer, but if you are in the habit of checking and adjusting tire inflation on a regular basis, this feature may not be so important to you.

3. Nitrogen-filled tires run cooler and are said to increase the life of the tires up to 30 percent over tires inflated with compressed air.

4. The last feature I mentioned is also said to improve your fuel economy, but I wouldn’t want to state how much of an improvement you might get.

5. Nitrogen does not expand at the rate compressed air does while heating up as you travel down the road. Some will say that in addition to running cooler and extending the life of the tire, you will experience a smoother ride as well.

6. Yet another claim is tires filled with nitrogen reduce the chance of tire failure by up to 50 percent. I would agree that if you can eliminate the moisture from inside the tire, it would contribute to less internal damage to the wheels and tires, and quite possibly lessen the chance of tire failure.

7. One thing I do know is compressed air does not cost anything compared to what nitrogen costs. The big question is whether the benefits outweigh the cost.

The jury is still out and many will argue nitrogen is a waste of money, while others will swear by the features and benefits nitrogen has to offer. I guess you will need to be the judge and decide which makes more sense for you personally.

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