Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Great Nitrogen Rip-Off Scam!

I've been steaming about this one for a while, and I think it's time to express my contempt for an inert gas.

The fair person in me says that everyone has a right to make a buck. When I worked in the trade, I had few qualms about charging people an extra 3 bucks on their invoice for "Environmental Disposal" when, in reality, the shop got PAID for its used oil. It is pure profit for the company, but it's an industry standard and allows the illusion of competitive pricing.

However, shops are now charging their customers for the wonderful advantage of filling their tires with Nitrogen, rather than compressed air as is the norm. This is silly on so many levels.

Compressed nitrogen is extremely cheap. A shop that charges $5 per tire is making an incredible markup. I have heard, however, of London Chrysler dealers charging over $200 for this service on a new car! Absolutely INSANE. Consumers need to educate themselves before cheerily forking over hours of wages for absolutely nothing.

Nothing you say? Here is a link that questions many of the supposed benefits of Nitrogen in car tires.

Does it keep your tires from oxidizing on the inside? Who cares? They're obviously oxidizing on the outside! Look at the inside of a tire that's been on a car for five years and the inside looks a lot better than the outside.

Does it keep your tire pressure more constant? Ask yourself the question "Was my last qualifying lap affected by tire temperature?" If your answer is "Huh?" then it really doesn't matter. The temperature of your tires going down the road on a daily basis doesn't vary much, unless you have truly horrible alignment, in which case you'll need new tires soon enough anyway. Seasonally, of course, your pressure will vary, but if you're not checking it at least that often you're failing yourself as a car owner.

Most important of all is the fact that the atmosphere, and hence the regular compressed air that you get for free, is already 78% nitrogen! Not only that, but when your tire is inflated from 0 psig to 32 psig you're not actually removing the oxygen that was already in there. There's only one way in. You've paid whatever you're paying to go from 78% nitrogen to maybe 90%. Whoopee doo.

What it comes down to is this. Make sure the guy who changes your oil checks your tire pressure. Let them put in the free air. Pay the Environmental Fee happily, even though it's going straight into the owner's pocket. Smile.

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