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WASHINGTON, D.C., November 6, 2006 - The Rubber Manufacturers Association today issued a service bulletin on “Using Nitrogen to Inflate Passenger and Light Truck Tires in Normal Service Applications.”
The use of nitrogen inflation systems by tire retailers has increased in recent years. RMA, which represents tire manufacturers, issued the Tire Information Service Bulletin to provide general information about inflating tires with nitrogen.
The RMA bulletin notes that 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 brake/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 vehicle 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.
RMA warns that 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,” RMA wrote. “This means your tires will wear longer, save fuel and help prevent accidents.”
And above all, the RMA bulletin strongly reminded motorists to check tire pressure at least once a month when tires are cold and to use the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended inflation pressure.
“Whether inflated by air or nitrogen, regular inflation pressure maintenance remains critical and necessary,” RMA wrote. “Use of nitrogen alone is not a replacement for regular inflation pressure maintenance.”
Consumers can download RMA’s Tire Service Information Bulletins at www.rma.org.
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The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for the rubber products industry. Its members include more than 100 companies that manufacture various rubber products, including tires, hoses, belts, seals, molded goods, and other finished rubber products. RMA members employ over 120,000 workers and account for more than $21 billion in annual sales.