Is Nitrogen Snake Oil?

Dec 2nd 2010 at 11:24 AM

Nitrofil Although their numbers are diminishing daily, there are still customers that don’t “believe in nitrogen” or think of it as “snake oil.” While tons of pages of evidence against this exist, most non-believers can “convert” themselves if they simply consider the following:

At Capital Ford, we believe It’s not what nitrogen is that makes it such a beneficial inflation medium, but what it is not. Nitrogen is an “inert” gas, which basically means it is “nothing”, completely free of any properties. Essentially, it is the nothing that oxygen is combined with in our atmosphere so we can breathe.

“Regular air,” the air that we breathe and compress to fill tires, is about 79.1% nitrogen and roughly 20% oxygen. While oxygen, again, is essential for us and almost every other living organism, it is detrimental to almost everything else. Think “oxidation.” Oxidation, also known as rust and corrosion, is the enemy of anything composed of rubber or steel. Without oxygen, it is impossible for oxidation to occur (i.e., no rim rust or corrosion, no TPMS sensor oxidization and no tire rot). Further, without the presence of oxygen (the “O” in H2O), water or condensation cannot form in a tire. Hence, no oxygen means no rust, no corrosion and no water or water related issues.

The greatest disadvantage of oxygen, however, is its molecular size. Air filled tires, as you might know, lose pressure at the rate of at least one psi per month through normal “permeation.” Nitrogen filled tires, on the other hand, typically lose NO pressure over a one month period. This is because the size of a molecule of oxygen, which again comprises about 20% of regular air, is roughly ¼ of the size of a molecule of nitrogen. Underinflated tires run warmer, wear out faster and increase rolling resistance, which wastes energy ( fuel), and nitrogen inflated tires stay properly inflated much longer.

A recent study from Clemson University indicates that oxygen free, or nitrogen inflated, tires can last up to 50% longer, provide up to 10% better fuel economy and fail much less frequently. After the staff at Capital Ford knows these facts, none of us can refute the value of keeping tires oxygen free.


  • No rust, rot, or corrosion to tires.
  • No loss of pressure.
  • Nitrogen is good.
  • Nitrogen is NOT some snake oil scheme.
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