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Fleets can cut costs and boost safety by inflating tyres with nitrogen

17 November 2009

Fleets can prolong tyre life, boost fuel economy and improve the road safety of their company cars and vans by inflating tyres with nitrogen instead of air.

A study by the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the United States concludes: “The primary result expected from nitrogen inflation is to enhance retention of tyre pressure over time, which will help maintain tyre performance properties such as rolling resistance, handling, and durability.”

Safety-focused Kwik-Fit Fleet, which continues to see increasing demand from companies for tyre safety checks to be carried out as organisations get to grips with their occupational road risk management responsibilities, offers company car and van drivers the option of having tyres filled with nitrogen at all of its 650 centres nationwide. The cost is £1 per tyre.

In the 90-day static laboratory NHSTA test, the inflation pressure loss for new tyres inflated with nitrogen was approximately two-thirds of the loss rate of new tyres inflated with air. The average 90-day pressure loss rate for tyres inflated with air was 2.13% per month, and the average for tyres inflated with gas containing 95-99% nitrogen the loss was 1.39% per month.

Current police figures sourced from the Department for Transport show that 73% of tyres are inflated to the incorrect pressure and that 86% of cars involved in traffic accidents had tyres with incorrect pressures.

However, the NHSTA report entitled ‘The Effects of Varying Levels of Nitrogen in the Inflation Gas of Tyres on Laboratory Test Performance’ warned: “It should be noted that inflation with nitrogen merely slows the rate of diffusion of gas from the tyre and is not a substitute for regularly maintaining tyre pressure.”