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'Nitrogen is no substitute for regular tire pressure checks,' says RMA tech bulletin

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The Rubber Manufacturers Association has issued a service bulletin on nitrogen inflation for passenger and light truck tires.

The bulletin is titled Using Nitrogen to Inflate Passenger and Light Truck Tires in Normal Service Applications.

Here are excerpts from the bulletin:

"Nitrogen is an inert (non-flammable) gas -- basically nothing more than dry air with oxygen removed (air contains about 78% nitrogen). Because of its inert properties, nitrogen is often used in highly specialized service applications and/or demanding environments.

"Applications such as aircraft, mining and commercial/heavy use utilize nitrogen to help reduce the risk of internal combustion (fire) if the break/rim/wheel components overheat. Also dry nitrogen is used in professional racing to help reduce variation in inflation pressures (caused by moisture) where even small differences in pressure can affect vehciles handling at the extreme limits of performance.

"For normal tire service applications, nitrogen inflation is not required. However, nitrogen inflation is permissible as its properties may contribute to minor reductions in inflation pressure loss. Nevertheless, several other sources of pressure leaks -- such as punctures, tire/rim interface (bead), valve, valve/rim interface and the wheel -- may negate the benefit of nitrogen.

"If the tire inflation pressure is below the pressure specified on the vehicle placard, the tire must be re-inflated -- whether with air or nitrogen -- to the proper inflation pressure. Do not operate tires under-inflated and/or overloaded.

"Depending on nitrogen alone to reduce the requirements for inflation maintenance may, in fact, lead to under-inflated operation, which may result in premature tire failure. With the right amount of inflation pressure, you will achieve optimum tire performance. This means your tires will wear longer, save fuel and help prevent accidents.

"Whether inflated by air or nitrogen, regular inflation pressure maintenance remains critical and necessary. Use of nitrogen alone is not a replacement for regular inflation pressure maintenance."

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