After calling around to talk to other shops who have bought N2CeL, the dry nitrogen inflation system made by Donaldson Company, McWilliams said it was worth a try. They bought their own $6,000 system in January, and now charge $5 per tire to fill.
"So far, we've had about 99 percent of the people who get it saying they can tell it makes a difference, both in pressure and in handling," McWilliams said.
"I had (Hometown Tire) put it in my personal vehicles to try it out," said David Lear, an owner of an industrial sheet metal company in Nicholasville. "I run 12 trucks, various sizes, and we keep an air hose and tire gage hanging over the door in the garage. We never even use it anymore."
Lear said he likes it because unless the tire has a hole, he knows he's not losing air.
"As far as I'm concerned, it handles way better," Lear said. "It's worth the $20 a truck. Think about it - you go from a 40 degree day, like we've done this week, to a 70 degree day and you're losing about three pounds of air out of each tire."
Nitrogen and compressed air
Tires lose as much as 12 PSI (pounds per square inch) over a six month period. McWilliams said it's a fact that for every 10 degree change in the weather, tires lose about a pound of air.
The information on the N2CeL system says compressed air contains about 21 percent oxygen, which eats up tires due to the chemical reaction as it passes through. The oxygen causes the rubber to lose its elasticity causing tire treads to wear out sooner.
McWilliams said that's where the fuel savings come in. If tires aren't gripping, he says the engine has to pull harder.
"Take a look at the newer models of cars, and you'll see that they come standard with tire pressure lights warning the driver that they're too low," McWilliams said, a testament to the importance of tire pressure.
As for the nitrogen breaking into the company's bottom line on tire sales, McWilliams said he doesn't worry about it.
"We hope that hey, they see that if they get their tires here and fill them up with nitrogen, they'll get the most and best mileage, and they'll keep coming back to us," McWilliams said. Of course, using the gas instead of compressed air is still new to the area.
"We have people coming in asking for hydrogen and all kinds of things," McWilliams said.
McWilliams said consumers can go to www.getnitrogen.org and use the savings calculator to find out more about the financial benefits of nitrogen.
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Did You Know?
* The air we breath is 78 percent nitrogen.
* Nitrogen is odorless, colorless and tasteless, and an element of all living tissues and amino acids.
* The Federal Aviation Administration requires nitrogen in aircraft tires because it reduces the potential for water vapor freezing at high altitudes.
According to www.getnitrogen.org, the benefits of using nitrogen instead of compressed air in tires include:
* Increased fuel efficiency, longer tire and rim life, increased safety and more predictable pressure fluctuation are all benefits of using nitrogen in tires.
* Numerous studies have proven that nitrogen in tires reduces the volume of gases that escape more quickly and cause damaging oxidation.
* NASCAR teams use nitrogen so they can more accurately predict tire pressure fluctuation.