Summer is here and with the prospect of blazing heat and pouring rains to come, comes the requisite tyre inspection and a simple solution that will make your tyres last longer: inflate with nitrogen.

If this concept is new to you, then relax and know that it’s a tried and tested practice that has been used for decades to inflate race car tyres as well as aircraft tyres, those on the US space shuttles and on industrial vehicles.

Joe du Plooy, marketing executive at Tiger Wheel & Tyre, which offers a nitrogen inflating service, explained the benefits: “The two most noteworthy benefits are a slower rate of pressure loss and a significantly cooler running temperature for the tyres. As a result, you need to inflate your tyres less frequently and the tread lasts up to 20 percent longer than tyres inflated with ordinary compressed air.”


The reason tyres stay better inflated for longer is due to the molecular structure of nitrogen, whose larger molecules escape through the tyre’s inner tube at a slower rate than regular compressed air – much slower in fact. Consider that it can take up to six months for a nitrogen-inflated tyre to lose 0.14kpa, whereas one filled with compressed air could lose that much in a month.

The fact that your tyres run at a lower temperature with nitrogen, not only impacts performance and safety in your daily driving, but also has a long-term effect on your pocket.

Du Plooy explains: “When tyres get hot, as they do whenever you drive and particularly in summer, the air pressure increases. This causes the tyre to expand and its footprint – the area that is in contact with the road – to be smaller. With much less surface area in contact with the road, you can expect accelerated and uneven tread wear and that your tyres will more easily lose grip.


“By inflating with nitrogen your tyres will run much cooler, giving them a larger footprint, which improves vehicle handling and preserves the tread on the tyres, giving your tyres up to 20 percent longer life.”

There’s also the fact that compressed air contains water vapour, which accelerates rust, corrosion and damage to tyre valves, the metal components of your tyres and your rims. In comparison, nitrogen contains very little water vapour.

It is 100 percent safe and is not only non-inflammable, but actually extinguishes flames!

If you’re off the beaten path and need to top-up urgently, you can safely add compressed air to your tyres and simply return to inflating with nitrogen when it’s convenient. - Star Motorng