Nitrogen Filled Tires: Scam or Not?

One of my most popular articles on this blog is the one about Nitrogen-Filled Tires that I wrote back in 2008.

I noticed a blog post linking here in response to it “A Rebuttal to Nitrogen Tire Inflation Scams and Myths“, so I had to write a rejoinder (which I posted there, but the comment wasn’t approved yet, so I thought I’d share here). My thoughts really haven’t changed on this… I still think it’s a dealer scam -a way to get more money from buys in aftermarket sales.


I think my evaluation of nitrogen in tires stands. My closing paragraphs point out my agreement that, all things being equal, pure nitrogen filled tires is marginally better than plain air.

However, the *cost* of nitrogen is not worth the marginal benefit. Said another way, the benefits do not outweigh the cost.

My tires get checked and topped of (if necessary) at every oil change. Either by myself or by the professional doing the maintenance -and they don’t charge anything extra.

Oxidation isn’t an issue. Damage to the tire will happen at a rate far less than the wear on the tread. Damage to the steel or aluminium wheel is also negligible. I can’t think of a single person who ever bought a new wheel because of this type of damage to the inside. I do, however, know of two people that did so because of how oxidized aluminum wheels looked on the outside (they just didn’t take care of it and it pitted, though I think it was mainly from road-grunge).

If I were a car collector and had a vintage automobile that I wanted to never drive and I wanted to ensure the tires lasted, I’d probably fill it with nitrogen. But for a vehicle that I commute back and forth to work, drive on the weekends, a work vehicle, etc -I wouldn’t bother. The expense does not outweigh the benefits. Unless I can get the nitrogen for free.

Bottom line: if you have to pay for the nitrogen, it’s not worth it. And, thus, a scam for your money. And by “scam” I mean that it’s a method of fleecing aftermarket money from new cars. There are quite a few of these that dealers will try to use.

Anyway, thanks for the link. I just had to drop a line since I noticed this post has been here for a little over a year 🙂

About Carl Feagans 397 Articles
Professional archaeologist that currently works for the United States Forest Service at the Land Between the Lakes Recreation Area in Kentucky and Tennessee. I'm also a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Army and spent another 10 years doing adventure programming with at-risk teens before earning my master's degree at the University of Texas at Arlington.

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