Ask around and you’re bound to get mixed opinions on the value of using nitrogen in your horse trailer tires. Some people claim it’s not worth the cost. While others are convinced it’s the best decision you could ever make!
That’s why we’re going to break down this topic and reveal the very real benefits of using nitrogen in your horse trailer’s tires. The scientific evidence might just change your mind.
When it comes down to the nitty-gritty, there are some excellent reasons why you should use nitrogen in your horse trailer’s tires.
When you use regular old air in your horse trailer tires, you’re actually pumping in a mixture of several gases. The air from the gas station pump or your mechanic’s shop will have roughly 78% nitrogen (N2), 21% oxygen (O2), and 1% miscellaneous other gases.
As you learned in physics class, the volume of space this air takes up changes with temperature. In fact, your tires will lose about one psi (pound per square inch) for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit change in temperature.
Regardless of which type of gas you use, it will eventually leak out of the tiny microscopic spaces in the rubber of your tire. That’s why you will find yourself adding extra air from time to time.
When driving your horse trailer, it’s extremely important that you check your tire pressure regularly. An overinflated tire will wear unevenly. And underinflated tire is more likely to overheat and blow out while driving on the road.
A tire blow out while driving your horse trailer could be extremely dangerous to say the least. Proper tire maintenance can help you avoid this scary situation.
If you decide not to use regular air in your tires, the other option is to use pure nitrogen gas. This may sound like a new feature, but it’s actually been used for years in racecars and airplanes. Even heavy-duty construction vehicles use nitrogen because of its benefits.
Nitrogen molecules are slightly larger than oxygen, so they escape through the spaces in your rubber tire more slowly. The result is a tire that holds its inflation better.
Another benefit of nitrogen has to do with its reactivity. It doesn’t react with many materials (unlike oxygen which tends to “oxidize” metals). It also is a very dry gas and doesn’t support moisture. This means that tires filled with nitrogen will not contribute to corrosion of the tire’s steel parts.
1. Maintain tire pressure over time.
As we mentioned above, the larger nitrogen molecules leak more slowly through the microscopic pores of your tire’s rubber. Consumer Reports actually did a study comparing the amount of nitrogen loss vs air loss in two tires. After one year, the nitrogen tire only lost about 2.2 psi while the air-filled tires lost 3.5 psi.
In general, nitrogen slows the loss of tire pressure by about 1/3. You’ll still need to do regular monthly pressure checks to make sure the tires stay properly inflated.
2. Tires last longer without corrosion.
Regular air has a higher percentage of oxygen, which can retain moisture inside your tires. This is a problem because that moisture along with the oxygen tends to corrode your tire’s metal parts. On the other hand, nitrogen which is 93-95% pure will stay dry and inert. This will keep your tires from aging prematurely.
3. Still easy to add pressure when needed.
Nitrogen is not as widely available as plain old air. That said, if you find yourself in a pinch and need to top off the pressure on your tires, it’s no problem to use regular air to inflate your nitrogen-filled tires. This will simply lower the percentage of nitrogen in your tires. To get back to a pure nitrogen tire, you’d need have a professional recharge your tires will nitrogen to purge the air.
Even with nitrogen-filled tires, you’ll need to add pressure during the fall/winter months when temperatures are down and tire pressures drop.
4. Nitrogen is great for heavy equipment vehicles.
There’s a good reason why race cars, airplanes and heavy equipment use nitrogen in their tires. They want tires that will maintain tire pressure. Plus, the moisture factor from air-filled tires can cause tires to heat up or cool rapidly – causing damage to the tire. With nitrogen, your tires run cooler and more safely.
Here at Double D Trailers, our horse trailer’s tires are filled with nitrogen straight out of the factory. This means you can enjoy all of the benefits listed above for longer-lasting tires.
Just because you have nitrogen in your tires, doesn’t mean you can ignore them season after season. It’s still very important that you check your tire pressure regularly. When storing your trailer, keep your tires out of direct sunlight so the rubber does not become dry and brittle. Even better, put your trailer up on blocks and remove the tires altogether over the winter months.
Remember, tires most often “age out” instead of “wear out” on horse trailers. This means that your tire may still have a great tread and be fully inflated, but need to be switched. Rubber loses its strength and integrity over time due to sun, rain, and temperature changes.
Most tire manufacturers will recommend that you change your horse trailer tires every four or five years – depending on how often you use your trailer. We suggest you be proactive and get on a regular schedule every four years. You can find the age of your tires by looking for the date code on the tire sidewall.
For instance, if the code says “LMLR5107,” the “51” means that this tire was made on the 51st week of the year in the year 2007.
If you have any questions about using nitrogen in your horse trailer tires, reach out to Brad Heath, owner of Double D Trailers. We’ll be happy to help!
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