By on July 27, 2010

The Porsche Center of San Antonio offers its customers the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fill their tires with nitrogen for only $49.95. No word on whether this is special imported German nitrogen or not, but it definitely isn’t the most expensive nitrogen scam out there… [via]

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32 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: A Steal Of A Deal Edition...”

  • avatar

    A lot of guys run nitrogen in their tires for racing. I keeps the tire pressures more consistent over the race (doesn’t expand as much as normal air giving you less of a pressure rise (better for fine tuning – and better for pushing hard throughout the race).

    • 0 avatar

      I’m skeptical. Free air is already almost 80% nitrogen.

    • 0 avatar

      The only reason that matters is because a)the temperature change from when those tires go on to when they come off is greater than it is for somebody driving at anything less than super illegal speeds and b) they deal in 1/4 to 1/2 psi differences in tire pressures that can result in 1/100th of a second differences going around the track. Second, the advantage to pure nitrogen over air isn’t reduced expansion, it is more predictable expansion. The pure nitrogen acts more like an ideal gas than the oxygen/nitrogen mixture that is air. This allows a crew to more accurately predict the increase in pressure within the tires as they heat up and account for it before they put them on. None of this applies to daily driving.

    • 0 avatar

      @ srogers

      You are smart to be skeptical. For most drivers there is little benefit to moving from 80% nitrogen filled tires (as you point out most people call this product “air”) to 100% nitrogen fill.

      Lumbergh21 is essentially correct but fails to point out that most drivers, including most non-professional race drivers, lack the skill to drive a track consistently enough to find any benefit to nitrogen filled tires. The benefit of nitrogen filled tires for normal folks (which includes weekend track day racers) is primarily psychological. It makes us feel like F1 superstars, but it’s of no practical benefit because we lack the skills and expertise necessary to exploit the incredibly fine degree of refinement offered by filling the tires with nitrogen.

      If Costco offers to fill your minivan’s new tires with nitrogen for free (which is the case in my area) it’s of minor actual benefit, but has a bigger marketing benefit. It seems like a one more reason to choose to buy your tires at Costco over the competition, but it’s not really that big a deal. If your local Porsche dealer offers to fill your daily driver/weekend convertible fun car/weekend track day racer Porsche’s tires with nitrogen for $49.95, just decline unless your ego needs a boost that only $50 worth of inert gas can give.

  • avatar

    On the grand scale of things that Porsche owners are screwed on this is pretty minor.

  • avatar

    What a laugh.

    This fits well with the infamous “N” rating that Porsche recommends on tires for their cars. For those that don’t know, there has been many a raging debate on P-car boards about infidels buying top rated and top brand tires (Bridgestone S02 and S03s come to mind from a few years ago, but also hi-perf models of Michelin and Pirellis as well) that don’t have Porsche’s own recommended (and reviewed) stamp. Many think it was a bit of a hoop because certain manufacturers would pay to have their tires so blessed. Meanwhile, you could buy the EXACT SAME TIRE model without the hallowed mark – and find this tire on Ferraris, Lambos, McLarens, etc. – and still be questioned as to the “safety and performance” on a Porsche. So, this leads me to conclude there will soon be Porsche certified nitrogen (can’t be “n” cause that’s for tires, maybe “A” for air?) – which, of course, will be somehow different than other forms of nitrogen.

    I have owned and driven Porsches for many years – they are fine cars, usually well made and a lot of fun. But sheesh, so many poseurs (or should I say gullibles…?)

    To all Porsche owners, Costco puts nitrogen in their tires for FREE, dudes.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m with you 100%. The “safety” argument for the speed rating on tires applies only to driving at high speeds for extended periods of time. Unless you live in an area with no speed limits (or regularly drive at 2.5 times the speed limit on U.S. highways) or use your Porsche on a race circuit, there is no safety or performance benefit of any kind when buying “N” rated tires.

      We buy fancy cars to stroke our egos and buying fancy tires for our fancy cars just plays into our fantasies. I make ego based purchases and there’s not a single thing wrong with that, but getting onto the Internet and passionately arguing for putting “N” rated tires on a Porsche that is essentially a really expensive drive to work car, grocery getter and hot chick picker-upper is sort of sad.

  • avatar

    Fifty bucks is a good deal. My local Mazda dealer wants $89.95…

    Improves ride, eh? I was once told that a rubberized undercoating would improve the ride of my BMW.

  • avatar

    How certain can you be that there won’t be any residual oxygen left in your tyres after they have been filled with Nitrogen?

    Do these people have any idea how dangerous it is to drive a car with so much as a single atom of oxygen in the tyres?

  • avatar

    Was it P.T. Barnum who said that a sucker was born every minute?

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Sell the sizzle, not the steak.

    My Infiniti dealer wants $250 for “lifetime” nitrogen inflation. The nitrogen inflation apparatus sells for about $4,000. Sixteen sales and it’s paid for. The operating cost is approximately 25¢ a tire. Pretty good markup for something that is essentially worthless!

    The Rubber Manufacturers Association says nitrogen tire inflation is OK, if it’s free. Michelin recommends nitrogen only for tires in high risk environments, like aircraft landing gear and racing. Goodyear is ambivalent.

    • 0 avatar

      Dude, this is an Internet forum. You’ve got no business what so ever coming in here quoting facts from reputable sources. I’m only interested in your opinion, based on an anecdote that is at least once removed from your personal experience. Ideally, I need you to tell some story about your Uncle’s friend who was supposedly a tire scientist at Bell Labs secret Transportation Division if you want to have any credibility in my eyes. If your story sounds vaguely like a conspiracy, that’s how I’ll know you’re not lying.

  • avatar

    For normal road cars nitrogen is a total crock of sh*t.

    Racers prefer it because of less pressure variation but this is more due to the lack of moisture than the absence of oxygen.

    FAA and other regulators require it in large aircraft because a nitrogen filled tire is less of a hazard if it catches fire.

    • 0 avatar

      This really hits on the key to it all.

      If a shop is running a good clean compressor than nitrogen is nearly worthless for most customers.

      If, however, a shop’s air supply has too much moisture in it due to a bad dryer, or too much oil added for lubricating pneumatic tools, than the nitrogen is an improvement because it’ll be properly de-humidified and oil-free.

      But it still wouldn’t be worth spending a dollar on, much less 50 of ’em.

      Though the manufacturer(s) of nitrogen fill equipment don’t see it that way.

      Check out the “515” unit from RTI ($7,749 from CarQuest, or lease for just $188.30 a month for 60 months). It can vacuum out four typical passenger car tires and replace the air with a user selectable 95% or 98% N2 in about 7 minutes.

      And, lucky shop operator you, based on the Profit Calculator Excel Spreadsheet, (note that none of the cells are actually formulas) you are guaranteed to win no matter your costs!

  • avatar

    The nigtogen inflation is expensive but they will also lube your muffler bearings for free.


  • avatar

    I’ve worked on aircraft landing gear systems – including wheels, brakes and tires for the past several years and they all use nitrogen in both the tires as well as the gear struts – but not for the reasons mentioned above.

    For aerospace applications the main reason for nitrogen vs air is that it nitrogen won’t feed a fire in case something overheats in the wheel well area. In the landing gear struts using nitrogen helps to reduce the amount of moisture introduced to the piston area – helping to reduce corrosion.

    If tire expansion was such a significant problem I would expect that they would have fuse plugs that would blow from any excess heat and pressure – just like aircraft tires do.

    • 0 avatar

      Interesting- I always thought they wanted N2 to reduce the humidity. If it’s filled with humid air, at altitude it could condense out and freeze. This would throw the tire off balance as well as lower the pressure, creating a dangerous situation.

  • avatar

    At least this dealer gives you the option of paying for it.

    I once went to a Cadillac/GMC/Buick/Pontiac dealer where every single new car had an $80 nitrogen-fill and $200 pinstripes.

    However, they only had a $99 dealer fee, so I guess it all worked out in the end.

  • avatar

    Put a good moisture filter on your compressor and you get 90% of the benefit. As mentioned by others, the problem is moisture, not the oxygen, carbon dioxide and argon. Some people will buy anything.

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    Nitrogen fill is free at Costco, though I think you need to buy all 4 tires for it..

    For that price, and a discount on Michelins, I was happy to get it.

  • avatar

    I work at a dealership and you can thank the Firestone/Explorer events for this one. More and more cars have tire pressure “idiot lights”. The people who don’t ever adjust their tire pressure, go running to the dealership to get the light “fixed”. $50 to have the light come on less is more than worth it for non-car people.

  • avatar

    $50 to increase the nitrogen level of the air in the tires from 78% to 95%?

    I think I’ll continue using 78% nitrogen run through a filter/dryer and spend the $50 on a top drawer air gauge. Longacre has a nice 0-60psi unit with 0.1 increments but it comes in a $50 case.

  • avatar

    If your fantasy life is “race car driver” then by all means put the nitrogen in your tires for $50.

    However, if your fantasy life is “Jason Bourne/James Bond/Hot Russian New York Realtor” then stick with the regular “air” in your tires so you have something to breathe when your car is forced off a bridge into the water and you need to stay submerged so that the bad guy can’t shoot you. That won’t work if you foolishly put nitrogen in the tires.

    If your fantasy life is “comedian” put helium in your tires. It will make your voice sound funny and it will improve your fuel economy because the car seems to weigh less and that reduces the tires’ rolling resistance.

    If your fantasy life is “1940’s German zeppelin Captain”, then you want to fill your tires with hydrogen. It should be fine as long as you don’t drive into New Jersey.

    What other ridiculous gases can we use in our tires to re-enforce our fantasy lives? Argon. Everyone knows exactly where I’m going with that one, right?

  • avatar

    At the dealership I work customers sometimes ask if we fill tyres with nitrogen. I tell them that we use a 78% nitrogen solution that gives practically the same result as “pure” nitrogen, and that puts their mind at ease. When they find out that we provide it for free, they go home very happy.

  • avatar


    Aircraft use it because Nitrogen contains zero moisture, air (78% Nitrogen) contains moisture. As mentioned above, freezing temperatures can play havoc on the moisture. Even worse, on the other end, during an emergency braking situation during landing, the moisture could turn to steam, and substantially increase pressures to the point of overwhelming the safety devices and causing a blow out.

    Tires used in racing need strict pressure control, and once again, it’s the moisture turning to steam that will cause most of the issue.

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