November 9, 2007

CAA-Quebec offers information on nitrogen inflation for tires

Quebec, Quebec – CAA-Quebec’s Automotive Advisory Services says that it is receiving a growing number of requests from drivers on information about nitrogen gas, particularly regarding its ability to enable greater tire stability.

CAA-Quebec says that nitrogen is helpful in maintaining correct tire pressure which, in turn, ensures adequate road grip and better fuel mileage. However, the association says that the standard practice of inflating tires remains perfectly adequate, and will yield performance comparable to nitrogen-inflated tires provided they undergo regular and correctly-executed pressure checks. A survey conducted by the Rubber Association of Canada found that more than 23 per cent of vehicles currently on the road in Canada travel with at least one tire that is underinflated by 20 per cent or more.

“Every driver should be aware of the dangers associated with underinflated tires: longer braking distance, lack of stability, premature tire erosion, even a higher risk of tire blowout,” said Sophie Gagnon, Director of Public and Government Affairs for CAA-Quebec. “Motorists must also keep in mind that, for each drop in temperature of 6C in relation to the temperature at which a tire was inflated, the tire pressure correspondingly drops by one pound, which is why it’s so important to be extra-vigilant in winter. So, whether one opts for nitrogen or the more standard air inflation, prudence is vital, all the more so since the effect of extreme temperature variations on nitrogen-filled tires is still relatively unknown in Quebec.”

On average, nitrogen inflation costs $3 to $5 per tire, and for optimal pressure, the inside of the tire must register a nitrogen concentration of 95 per cent or more. Gagnon says to do business with a conscientious garage mechanic who has experience using the tools required to measure nitrogen levels, and to get a proper reading of the concentration once the tire is filled. Since they are somewhat larger than oxygen molecules, nitrogen molecules are less likely to permeate the solid tire wall, and so nitrogen-inflated tires are less likely to lose pressure. Nitrogen also minimizes humidity levels in the tire, which helps safeguard them from premature wear and is useful for vehicles equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system.

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