What to do when your Nitrogen-filled tires trigger the low pressure warning light.
The story goes that filling your tires with Nitrogen would do wonders for the car, your peace of mind and… the tires.
The sales pitch for Nitrogen-filled tires is: SMOOTHER RIDE, REDUCES DEFLATION WASTING GAS, ELIMINATES WASTED TIME FILLING AND REFILLING THE TIRE…
Many manufacturers already replaced air with nitrogen in tires.
-Nitrogen inflated tires are safer and last longer than tires inflated with air.
-Nitrogen is an inert, non-combustible and non-flammable gas
-Nitrogen is a dry gas with no corrosive properties as found in compressed air.
-Nitrogen is a stable gas providing more constant pressure
-Nitrogen inflated tires do not age as quickly as air inflated tires
-Nitrogen inflated tires improve vehicle handling through proper inflation.
The fact is when the low tire pressure warning light brightens your dash, all drivers immediately think OH NO: FLAT TIRE, nail or something worse.
NO, a low pressure light is NOT AN EMERGENCY and you can’t just put regular air in the Nitrogen-filled tire.
Nitrogen in the rubber is supposed to keep your tires from experiencing typical seasonal deflation based on changes in the outside temperatures. However, this week’s sudden 30 degree drop from 99 to 69 here in Las Vegas, has set every low tire pressure warning light on, Nitrogen-filled or not.
What now? Most garages and gas stations do not have a “Nitrogen-pump” you can roll up to, drop a few quarters in and be done. You need to visit a reputable dealership or specialty tire retailer that has the Nitrogen tanks.
Steps to be consider when you have Nitrogen-filled tires and a low pressure warning light.
1. Is it first thing in the morning? Garaged or not, Nitrogen-filled tires are not supposed to be affected by driving around for 10 minutes–heating-up the Nitrogen inside the tire. Air-filled tires often reflect this change and the light will go out. Driving around on Nitrogen-filled tires, won’t make the light go out.
2. Check the tire where the rim meets the rubber for any sign of damage. Curbing a rim can break the inner seal and allow the Nitrogen to leak out.
3. If you find a nail, DON’T PULL IT OUT! Call the road club or carefully drive to the closest tire store or dealership. Most tires are NOT patchable, especially if the object has damaged the sidewall.
4. No apparent damage to the rim or object in the rubber? Maybe you need a quick Nitrogen fill-up, typically once a year… expect to pay $25.00 to $40.00.
5. Driving while the Low Tire Pressure Light is on with Nitrogen-filled tires, is not as damaging as it would be on a air-filled tire where uneven PSI can put excessive wear on the “low” tire and potentially cause more harm by allowing the metal rim to “cut” the rubber should you encounter a road hazard.
6. In a Nitrogen-filled tire, once the sensor has triggered the warning light, you must have it reset by the dealer. So, before you drop the cash on the counter, be sure you actually see the technician measure and write down the tire pressure reading before adding the Nitrogen from a GREEN STEMMED canister, and note the new reading after you see him/her fill the tire. All the tires should be checked for the same pressure, and if the car was on the lift when the Nitrogen was added, the pressure should be rechecked and recalibrated when the car is back on the ground.
7. Sometimes this low tire pressure light can be triggered by a faulty TPS (tire pressure sensor) in the tire stem. This equipment problem has nothing to do with the amount of Nitrogen in the tire but could have been damaged while driving, causing a mis-read or be allowing for a leak around the actual valve stem. Tire pressure sensors are expensive! I have heard of charges up to $100.00 per sensor on a Land Rover, as most tire pressure monitoring sensors are brand specific and must be purchased from the manufacturer or dealership. Before sure you have the “bad sensor” in your hand while you see the NEW one (matching the brand/old one) being installed.
I’d hate to see you pay $25.00 to have someone to turn off your low pressure tire warning light and not add any Nitrogen product… or worse, pay for a new sensor when the “bad” one came from someone else’s car.
Good luck and safe driving!
WATCH THIS VIDEO FROM GAUDIN MOTOR COMPANY:
Sarah Lee Marks is MyCarlady. She has over 22+ years of experience.
She writes about cars, and is a staunch consumer advocate on car related subjects.
MyCarlady offers free car buying advice, and private, auto-related services to help you maintain your personal or commercial vehicles.
Call Sarah Lee for more information: 702-521-7546