If you’ve replaced your tires in the last few years, you’ve likely heard of premium air for car tires. For decades, vehicles like race cars have used premium nitrogen air for many reasons. And recently, manufacturers have introduced it for everyday drivers — like you and me!
But you might wonder, is premium air worth the extra dollars? This post discusses all you must know about it and how it differs from regular compressed air.
What is Premium Air for Car Tires?
Although car tires have many costs, air often isn’t one of them — unless you’re paying for premium air. Generally, “premium air” refers to higher-quality nitrogen air instead of regular compressed air.
Nitrogen air offers better tire pressure maintenance, keeping your tires solid and reliable. And you can get charged anywhere between $5 and $8 per tire if inflated during installation. Meanwhile, those looking to switch to premium (pure) nitrogen air expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $150.
But you might wonder, why does premium nitrogen air cost so much? Experts consider this type of air for tires to involve more work in breaking the current’s tire bead. And you must apply the air several times to ensure the tires are 100% free from regular compressed air.
Moreover, nitrogen air risks you from busting your tires without causing much damage. Aside from that, not all tire locations offer nitrogen, adding more to its steep price tag. No wonder people call it premium air!
What is the Best Air for Car Tires?
When it comes to long-term benefits, using premium nitrogen air is the better choice. After all, it offers more consistent tire pressure, which is vital in keeping your car tires in ideal shape!
All that is possible due to nitrogen molecules being bigger and slower than regular air. As a result, the premium won’t seep out of your car tires for a while, maintaining the ideal pressure longer. And that, in turn, also makes your tires more durable and maximizes fuel economy!
Also, thanks to nitrogen air’s inert properties, many use it in specialized applications. These range from commercial use to professional auto racing! And ordinary folk can now get their hands on it with more tire locations offering premium air.
So, it’s not too difficult to see how premium nitrogen air can set you up for tire success! And this is especially helpful if you’re unfamiliar with how to check tire pressure.
Nitrogen vs. Air for Car Tires: A Comparison
✅ Cost & Convenience
Air for car tires is reasonably priced at service stations or tire dealers. And most let you inflate your tires for free or a few dollars. But it’s a different case for premium air! After all, nitrogen air’s infrastructure isn’t developed well, requiring several fills.
Aside from that, premium air is more difficult to find. But when you do spot a place offering it, expect to pay between $5 and $7 per tire. And if you’re looking for a total nitrogen upgrade, expect to pay between $70 and $180.
Also, contributing to premium air’s steep fee is that repetitive filling and deflating. Converting regular air-filled car tires to pure nitrogen is tiring work. And the installer needs to purge your car tires several times to remove all the normal air. After all, nitrogen levels must be at least 93% for it to be effective.
Price aside, regular air also comes at the top regarding convenience. After all, as mentioned earlier, nitrogen air isn’t as accessible. So, imagine what will happen when your nitrogen-filled tires pop out of nowhere!
In short, stick to regular compressed air for lower costs and better convenience!
✅ Tire Pressure Maintenance
Car tires have microscopic pores where any inflating gas (air) can seep out over time. As a result, your tires’ inflation pressure reduces. But since nitrogen has more giant molecules than regular compressed air, they move slower. Hence, they can maintain car tires’ inflation pressure better and longer!
So, for a hassle-free drive, going for premium nitrogen air is the best choice. It maintains the tire pressure for you, freeing you from the grueling task of doing it manually.
But if you know how to check your car’s tire pressure, you should be able to see a pressure drop. And with this, you can stick with regular compressed air and not face the incurring extra costs of premium nitrogen air.
✅ Fuel Economy
Experts estimate all foul tires help your car experience a 0.3% drop in gas mileage for one psi drop. This reduction in tire pressure increases your car tires’ rolling resistance. And that is responsible for the decrease in your gas mileage.
Because nitrogen air improves tire pressure, expect a higher gas mileage, improving your tires’ rolling resistance. It can also enhance friction between the tires and cold, hard road, keeping you safe. And this, in turn, improves your fuel economy over time.
Regular compressed air has more oxygen, retaining more moisture within your tires. As a result, the car tires oxide their wall casing faster, causing premature aging. And the worst-case scenario, the excess humidity may cause the tires’ steel belts to rust. You wouldn’t want to drive around with rusty tires, trust me.
Meanwhile, nitrogen doesn’t emit as much moisture as an inert and dry gas. And using at least 93% pure nitrogen stops premature aging and rust caused by humidity. So, you can see why nitrogen’s the better choice regarding sturdiness.
But note that a car tire’s tread will reach its usable depth before oxidation can happen to the tire itself. So, if you don’t use your car as much, it’s better to stick to regular air!
✅ Specialized Vehicles
Specialized vehicles like race cars and commercial heavy equipment tires use nitrogen air. After all, these automobiles often get exposed to extreme temperature conditions. And we all know how nitrogen offers us more control over tire pressure. Hence, it lets your tires handle temperature fluctuations better.
Meanwhile, regular air contains excess moisture, varying from one tire to the other. Either way, this humidity causes the tires to experience rapid temperature increases. And since this can be unpredictable, it’s not the best choice for specialized vehicles.
After all, with such vehicles often exposed to different environments, risking it to save a couple of dollars isn’t worth it. So, get a better grip on the road and keep your tires strong with nitrogen air!
So, Which is Better?
So, with all this comparison, which is better? Regular compressed air or premium nitrogen air? It depends on how you use your vehicle, how often you drive it, and what type of ride you have.
But if you fall into one or two categories below, using premium air will be better for you long-term:
- You don’t drive your vehicle as much, and you often leave it unused for long periods.
- You use sports or race cars daily.
- You must put your vehicle in a storage facility for an extended time.
- You have collectible cars that you only drive for short distances.
Meanwhile, stick with regular air if you use your car often, and don’t fall into any of these categories. After all, the latter is more cost-efficient and convenient long-term. Still, it’s your call!
How Much Pressure to Put on Car Tires?
Whether you use premium or regular air, the recommended pressure for car tires varies. Check the manufacturer’s recommendation if you’re unaware of the best tire pressure. You should see the label on the vehicle’s door edges, doorpost, or glove box.
Generally, these labels should indicate recommendations for the front, rear, and spare tires. And it’s crucial to stick to these guidelines! Yes, that still applies even once you’ve replaced your car tires. The same pressure guideline on those labels applies to new tires.
Manufacturers measure these recommendations based on the readings taken from tire pressure gauges. So, it’s best to do the same and check your car tires’ pressure before you drive! I recommend checking it early and waiting at least 3 hours before you drive off to let your tires cool down.
If you don’t know how to check your car tires’ pressure, here are three ways you can explore:
- Dial tire pressure gauge. This type features a numbered dial with a hand resembling a watch.
- Digital tire pressure gauge. It’s the most advanced and convenient way of checking tire pressure. And it displays numbers on a digital screen.
- Stick-type tire pressure gauge. This kind features a rod that looks like a ruler. And it can slide in and out of a sleeve, measuring tire air pressure.
Regardless of your tire pressure method, they all have the same process. You must place the gauge into the valve system, ensuring it’s pressed onto the tire’s stem well. After a few seconds, a number should pop out of the screen or sleeve of the gadget.
Don’t Forget the PSI
Aside from the tire pressure, remember to find your tires’ recommended PSI. For this one, I recommend checking out your driver’s side door. A sticker should indicate the ideal PSI for your car’s tires. If not, check out the owner’s manual, and you should see the proper PSI to ensure your car’s safety and longevity.
If you don’t maintain the proper PSI, your car tires can overheat and wear out fast — eventually blowing out!
Remember, the temperature will directly impact your car tire’s pressure. So, to get an accurate PSI reading, double-check the tire’s air pressure when cold. It’s better to check when the temperature’s low, not only for accuracy but for your safety as well.
Checking Tire Pressure without a Gauge
If you want to check your tires’ pressure but don’t have a gauge on hand and your vehicle doesn’t have a reliable indicator for tire pressure, here’s what you can do:
- See how your ride feels. If you notice your drives feel bumpier than usual, your tires might be low on air. And unless it’s your brakes that are making noises, any unusual sounds often mean low pressure!
- Touch your car’s tires. Press on the tires with your hand or foot and see if they’re firm or soft. If it’s the latter, it’s time to add more air.
- Check out your tires. If you see any flat or uneven surface, your tires need more air pressure.
- Load weight onto your car. Low pressure is likely the culprit if you spot your tires sagging when you load something onto your vehicle. At this point, you must inflate your tires more!
Maintaining Proper Tire Pressure in Cars
Once you’ve mastered checking the tire pressure in your cars, it can be easy to neglect maintenance. So, save yourself from dealing with flat tires and maintain proper air pressure.
If available, observe the tire pressure watch system and see if your tires are well-inflated. Aside from that, remember to check out your tires’ PSI, especially during the colder seasons. After all, the cold makes your tires more vulnerable to losing their air faster.
Generally, car tires can lose 1 PSI for every 10 degrees of change in the temperature. That means if there’s a sudden drop of 50 degrees in the weather, your tires can lose 3 PSI in one night! And if your tires already had low pressure, this can lead to significant damage like a flat tire or steering issues.
So, you can see why maintenance is crucial for car tire pressure. It helps you prolong its longevity and improve safety. And all it takes is using a tire pressure gauge for a couple of minutes per month.
5 Signs Your Car Tires Need Air
Your car’s tires must always have maple air to guarantee the perfect balance and handle the different surfaces you drive on. If they lack pressure, you risk getting a flat tire, blowouts, and other dangerous problems. And when these occur, expensive auto repairs will be the least of your problems.
So, it pays to know when it’s time to fill up your tires!
? Flat Tire
Flat tires are the easiest way to tell if you need to inflate your car tires. Generally, the best method in detecting a flat is doing a spot check before you drive off. But if you find it challenging to reach certain speeds or hear unusual sounds under your car while on the road, you might have a flat tire too.
? Low-Pressure Reading (Flashing Warning Light)
You can use digital pressure meters to check if your car tires are at the manufacturer’s recommended level. And if you have a newer ride, its dashboard might also come with a warning light indicating its tire pressure is too low.
? Difficulty Driving in Colder Weather
Since car tires lose air pressure as the temperature plummets, low air pressure is inevitable. I recommend checking your tires’ air levels whenever your car’s exposed to a temperature drop. Although the amount is minimal, replacing that lost air improves your handling even on snow-ridden or frozen roads.
? You Feel a Vibration When Driving
When your car’s tires don’t have enough air, their rubber will become more vulnerable to vibration. And if this occurs, expect your steering and handling to get affected. Aside from that, you may also feel shaking or vibrating whenever you drive.
But since vibration is common in other auto repair issues, it’s best to have your car checked by a mechanic. That way, they can help determine if all your car needs are quick inflation or a major fix.
? Terrible Fuel Efficiency
The EPA has estimated that your car can experience a 0.2% drop in fuel economy for every PSI lost in tire pressure. And if your tires are losing a lot of air, you may fill up more gas than usual until you’ve to reinflate them!
How to Add Air to Car Tires?
You can refill your car tires in two ways. The most convenient method is to fill your tires at a gas station. Although most offer it for free, some places may charge a couple of dollars or cents per tire to use their machines.
But the best way to refill your car tires with air is by doing it yourself. You must get a portable air compressor from your local auto parts store!
Here’s how you can use a portable air compressor to refill your car tires yourself:
Work on the Air Compressor
- Bring your air compressor near your car. Doing this early on makes the refilling process faster and more manageable. So, ensure its hose reaches the four tires!
- Prep the air compressor. Please turn on the machine (you can tell it’s on and running when its motor starts making noises) and remove the stem caps.
- Position the hose. Press the air compressor’s hose into the valve stem and push its lever. Generally, you should feel or hear the air going through the hose and inflating the tire.
- Keep the hose in place. Be sure to have a tight grip over the hose to hold it down onto the valve stem securely. This way, no air can stray away and not get into your car tires.
- Check the filling progress. See if the tire has enough air pressure by releasing the air compressor’s inflation lever. And the gauge built-in on the hose should show how much air pressure is inside that tire.
- Adjust the pressure. Generally, it’s better to overinflate just by a margin, as your car tires will lose air slightly over time. But if needed, adjust the pressure in each tire by double-checking it via a separate gauge.
- Final check. Recheck the tire’s pressure with your gauge; ideally, it should be at 3 PSI. If it’s too high, press your gauge far enough to expel some air from your tire. And recheck the tire and adjust it if needed.
Adding the Final Touch
- Change the valve caps. Once you’re satisfied with each tire’s air pressure, place new valve caps on each one.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is premium air for car tires a real thing?
A: Premium air for car tires is jam-packed with nitrogen molecules, which are very real. Many consider them a luxurious choice. After all, nitrogen air is expensive and doesn’t leak out as quickly as regular air. It’s due to their molecules being larger, letting them maintain air pressure longer.
Q: What’s the best premium air tire pressure for cars?
A: Passenger cars benefit best between 32 and 35 psi when cold. It’s best to check tire pressure when your tires are cold since when they roll along the road, friction between them and the pavement generates heat.
Q: What’s the difference between standard compressed air and nitrogen air for cars?
A: Nitrogen is less vulnerable to expansion, unlike standard compressed air. As a result, the premium air option guarantees more consistent pressure increases. After all, it skyrockets in operating temperatures due to the lack of moisture. With this, you’ll enjoy better fuel economy and extend your tires’ lifespan.
Q: How much will it take to fill my car tires with premium nitrogen air?
A: Filling your car tires with premium nitrogen air can cost between $70 and$200. It’s pricier than regular air since it offers better air pressure. And you must remove the oxygen from compressed air with several nitrogen refills.
Q: Is replacing the nitrogen air in my car tires possible?
A: If you’ve been using nitrogen air for your car tires, replacing them with compressed air is possible. It shouldn’t affect them from the get-go. But expect to purge your car tires later and refill with nitrogen air again if you want to maintain consistent tire pressure.
As beneficial as premium air for car tires is, it isn’t for everybody. So, if you don’t mind paying extra, stick with standard compressed air. Only opt for nitrogen air if you want to prolong your car tires’ lifespan or live in a colder area. After all, it helps your wheels generate more heat, maintaining better tire pressure.