The original set of tires that came on my Evolution MR lasted to just under 13,000 miles (12,812). I had heard the stories about how little mileage to expect from the Yokohama Advan A046 tires. Many Evolution owners quickly looked for another option. I also knew that the car’s suspension was literally designed around the Advan A046 tires and that while it was certainly nice to get more mileage out of a set of tires much of the thrilling cornering capabilities would be diminished with another tire.
I swallowed hard and replaced the OE tires with another set of Yokohama tires. I was religious about rotating the tires front to rear every 5000 miles as well as monitoring the tire pressures. I also enjoyed the heck out of the cornering capabilities of this fun rally car.
Hardly 11,000 miles later I had to get another set. Ugh! The prices weren’t exactly going down either. Even through Tire Rack they were nearly $300 plus shipping and installation.
It just so happened that this coincided with the start of my 8000 mile road trip out west in June of this year. As an experiment I decided to try nitrogen instead of air for this set of tires. There was a NitroFill dealer close by and for $40 they evacuated all the air and replaced it with nitrogen at the pressures I requested.
To be quite honest I was prepared to find that this was a bit of a “snake oil” product that promised a lot, but really wouldn’t provide a significant difference. The fill up of nitrogen allowed me access to top offs or pressure adjustments country wide as well as a year’s worth of road side assistance. With the long road trip in mind I thought that $40 was not a bad deal.
My driving style hasn’t changed and I certainly ran the tires on a variety of road surfaces from here to California and back. If you remember, I avoided the Interstates and made a point of hitting the scenic routes as I crossed from state to state.
I maintained the car pretty much as always with 5000 mile tire rotations and checked the tire pressures in the mornings. While I was in New Mexico I stopped by a NitroFill dealer and had the pressures checked only to find that they were right where I wanted them. They commented that seemed typical for the cars that they had filled. I smiled, thanked them, and had my own opinion.
Once of the differences I had noticed was that when I started out each morning that the tires did not exhibit the flat spot period of warm up that I had been used to. What I mean is that it was not unusual for the Yokohamas to develop a flat spot from being parked overnight and that the first two or three miles would be used to warm the tires up enough to get rid of the set they had taken over night. That no longer occurred.
Anyone who has driven with the Yokohama Advan tires knows that they are noisy tires. Part of the price you pay for all that traction. What I did notice was that the tires didn’t get any quieter, but the tone did change. They got kind of a ring to them.
Now it has been nearly 17,000 miles on this set and I am not even near the wear bars. I am astonished. Could nitrogen make that much difference? After all air is about 77% nitrogen anyway, isn’t it?
What nitrogen is not is moisture, nor is it a corrosive gas like oxygen. It is also said that its molecules are bigger and therefore find it harder to escape through the tire itself.
The SR71 used nitrogen in its tires that had to land at excessive speeds. The B2 bomber still uses nitrogen to inflate its tires. Nitrogen is used to inflate race car tires in several forms of racing.
In the near future the government has mandated that tire pressure monitors will be standard on all cars sold in the US (Gee, thanks Uncle Sam from preventing me from being an idiot again) as our big brother prevents us from hurting ourselves. From what I’ve seen anecdotally the monitors do their job, but end up confusing most motorists. They still don’t know what their tire pressures should be or which tire is having a tough time. I heard one frustrated owner talk about checking all their vehicle’s tires and still got a warning. Frustrated they brought it to the dealership where it was determined that it was the spare that was underinflated.
No, I don’t get anything from NitroFill for using their system or telling you folks about my experience. But I find it nice to know that when I do have to replace this set of tires I can drive over to the NitroFill dealer and get the new ones evacuated of air and filled with nitrogen.
Snake oil? Not from my driver’s seat.