Top Gear Philippines

I just want to know the difference between Nitro Air and the regular compressor air in a vehicle's tires.

What are the pros and cons between the two? I know Nitro Air is more expensive than regular air. Many thanks!

-- Creech (from the Top Gear Philippines online forum)

Any gas, when subjected to heat, expands. Tires, being flexible in nature, expand and contract along with the gas. Our atmosphere is composed of a combination of several gases which have different expansion rates. Nitrogen is an inert gas, meaning it hardly reacts to anything.

Using nitrogen to inflate tires will result in a consistent and more predictable expansion rate which is useful to racing teams in motorsports where every little bit helps, including maintaining a constant tire pressure for the tires to keep the proper contact patch with the road surface. This is critical to racing because under those conditions tires are being subjected to high loads which generally make them generate more heat than you would normally see on the road. More heat, of course, means the tire pressure will increase as the gas/es inside the tires expand and reduce tire contact patch. Using nitrogen to keep your tires purportedly gives you better ride qualities as there isn't much increase in tire pressure as the tires become hotter, as would happen on a long trip or being on the road all day in the day time.

You should be aware though that a 200km trip will "only" elevate your tire pressure about 5psi, and when properly inflated, a difference of 2 or 3psi is hardly perceptible by most of us under normal driving conditions.

Ferman Lao
Technical Editor
Wearing the hats of a race car driver, driving instructor, grease monkey, tuner, dyno operator, auto shop owner, motoring journalist and CAGI president at one time or another, or all at once, deep down he's just another guy who loves cars.
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