This is the sort of question that may seem as if it has an obvious answer. After all, anyone who is filling up their tires with air on a consistent basis should already know the response.
However, there are still some folks out there who may be blissfully unaware.
How Much Heavier Are Tires When Filled With Air?
Tires filled with air are around 14 grams lighter than deflated tires, so it’s only a very small difference. That means around 56 grams for all four wheels combined. This makes no noticeable difference in the performance of a vehicle or the fuel economy.
According to the experts, the difference is actually rather slight.
While there is a difference, it is not nearly as pronounced as some would expect. This leads to further questions about the difference between nitrogen and air.
Nitrogen vs Air
Knowing which is best for the tires can be challenging. Let’s face the facts here, it can be a puzzling decision.
Deciding between nitrogen and air is not as easy as it seems.
Which Is Best For Tires?
There is an ongoing war between air and nitrogen that can make it hard for motorists to make the right decisions. Some will tell you that nitrogen is the way to go, while others will say that it is all a great big scam.
Yes, nitrogen does offer some advantages that may entice the average driver. However, the majority of these benefits are limited to those who find themselves at the upper end of the tire performance spectrum.
That’s why the average driver is not likely to benefit.
Fortunately, there are some other factors to consider before making any sort of final decision on the matter.
Cost and Convenience
In the current climate, motorists are placed in a position where cost and convenience have to be considered more than ever before. As gas prices continue to rise at rates of over 50% per week, the last thing that any motorist can do is start overspending on other automobile-related expenses.
Air is usually chosen because of its universal availability.
In addition to the universal availability, air is typically always a low-cost expenditure. Service stations are known to fill up tires and check air pressure for free (or a nominal fee at most).
Nitrogen, on the other hand, is a different story.
The infrastructure that would allow for more inexpensive nitrogen does not exist yet, so the average motorist is typically going to lean towards air. In most instances, the motorist can expect to pay anywhere from $5 to $7 per tire for a nitrogen fill-up.
A full nitrogen upgrade can run anywhere from $70 to $180.
There are also potential issues when it comes time to refill these tires. A motorist can use regular air in the meantime but the tire will need to be refilled later on to purge the non-nitrogen air.
Is The Weight Difference Between an Inflated and Deflated Tire Noticeable?
The difference between the weight of an inflated tire, as opposed to a deflated tire, is hardly noticeable. The average mechanic will tell you that it is negligible but scientists who have more specialized scales are able to detect the smaller differences.
When it comes to car tires, the mass of air inside is going to be much smaller than the weight of the wheels themselves.
As a result, the pressure will have more of an effect than the air that is placed in them.
How Does Tire Pressure Affect The Weight?
Let’s say that the motorist has placed 50 psi air pressure in their truck tires and they are wondering about the aftereffects. If a sizable amount of weight is placed into the bed of the truck, this can have serious effects on the vehicle.
In many instances, the tires are going to be squished in a downward direction.
The effects are not always that pronounced, though. The tires may not squish downwards, there is a decent chance that they will squish sideways.
The volume does not always decrease and if it does, the difference is hard to perceive.
How Much Does The Air In My Tire Weigh, Exactly?
The volume difference between an inflated tire and a non-inflated tire is just 10 liters. The air inside of the tire actually accounts for a very tiny percentage of the total weight.
14 grams to be exact.
The effects of buoyancy make it so that the air within the tire only accounts for a whopping 0.05% of the total weight.
How Important Is Proper Tire Inflation?
The importance of proper tire inflation cannot ever be overstated. Some may read the aforementioned facts about the lack of difference in weight and be led to believe that proper tire inflation is not that crucial.
In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.
The automaker’s recommended pressures must be adhered to at all times. When the proper amount of air has been placed in the tire, the level of safety increases greatly and the lifespan of the vehicle itself is also improved.
Check out our article here about whether you should fill your tires to the max psi.
What Are The Potential Negative Impacts?
When tires are not inflated properly, braking distances are impacted negatively. The driver is not able to use their brakes as quickly or effectively as they were before. The vehicle’s steering and handling is also going to be impacted in a negative manner, as the driver may struggle to take certain turns that came with ease before.
If an emergency stop is required, the vehicle will not be able to respond within the appropriate amount of time. Let’s say that the driver needs to avoid a collision and a sudden evasive maneuver becomes necessary.
Without proper tire inflation, these common driving requirements are far more challenging.
When pressure is low, the tires will start to flex in an excessive manner, which creates more heat than necessary.
If the heat is moderate? The tread on the tires will wear down more quickly. In situations where additional heat is created, the thread segments are in danger of being lost and the tires themselves will wear down even faster.
Is Fuel Economy Affected?
Absolutely. When tires have not been properly inflated, they will have much higher rolling resistance. This leads to a significant decrease in the overall fuel economy.
The outer edges of the tread wear down more quickly, necessitating a far more rapid tire change.
If the tires are overinflated, this is not nearly as problematic but it still bears monitoring. An occasional overinflation will not spell doom and gloom for the vehicle initially. If the tires are overly inflated on a consistent basis? The ride becomes much less compliant.
Wear and tear on the center of the tire’s tread will become more noticeable as well.
Determining Proper Tire Pressure: A Helpful How-To
Once the motorist has learned more about all of the aforementioned areas, it is time to determine whether they have the proper levels of tire pressure.
For best results, be sure to refer to the vehicle owner’s manual or the tire specification decal that will be located on the driver’s side door frame.
This is not a one size fits all proposition, so don’t make the mistake of referring to someone else’s manual or going off their advice.
Those who are looking to address tire pressure issues in older models (anything older than 2003, in most instances) will need to take a closer look at the glove box door, fuel filler flap, or trunk lid.
Vehicle manufacturers are also going to provide basic tire pressure specifications.
These specifications can vary from the front to the rear of the vehicle. The motorist must also examine the specifications for when the vehicle is fully loaded or being utilized for extended highway trips.
The higher the level of pressure, the greater the increase when it comes to load capacity. Heat buildup is reduced significantly by higher levels of tire pressure as well.
By checking the pressures regularly and purchasing a top-quality pressure gauge, motorists are able to become more proactive about these concerns over the long haul.