Fleet News

Fleet Services: Nitrogen tyre debate more than just hot air

SWITCHING to nitrogen-filled tyres could reduce fuel consumption by 5% for fleets, but it is tyre pressure checking which remains the main priority according to tyre groups.

Pneu Air, a supplier of nitrogen for tyres, claims it improves pressure and enables tyres to stay inflated for longer.

Rather than seeping through the tyre wall, as normal air does, nitrogen remains within the tyre for longer, enabling the pressure to be maintained.

A spokeswoman at Pneu Air explained: 'The issue of nitrogen tyre inflation is an important one for the industry.

'The unique properties of nitrogen means that there is much less seepage, which has important consequences for both the consumer and the environment.

'There are many benefits for fleet owners, not least because tyres inflated with nitrogen are proven to last longer and need replacing at fewer intervals.

'Decreased tyre pressure can also mean increased fuel costs of more than 5% per year and can actually halve the life of tyres.'

However, the issue of checking tyre pressures should remain at the forefront of fleet agendas if planning a switch to nitrogen, according to AA Tyre Fit.

Tony Ingram, AA Tyre Fit's training development manager, said: 'Nitrogen inflation is beneficial as the molecules are bigger so don't seep out of the tyres, meaning they stay inflated for longer.

But fleets need to be careful that nitrogen doesn't take the place of drivers having their tyres regularly inspected both for pressure and for wear.'

One of the UK's largest tyre manufacturers, Michelin Tyres, agrees that tyre pressure checks are the underlying issue.

A Michelin spokesman, said: 'Running tyres at the right pressure is the fundamental issue. The average driver does not check tyre pressures and even with nitrogen in them, they still wouldn't check them.'

Michelin believes that adding nitrogen-filled tyres across a fleet would cause more inconvenience and cost to drivers.

The spokesman, said: 'We can't see the benefit of nitrogen. You have to find a garage which supplies it and then if you did have a leak you would have to go back to the same place to re-fill at a higher price than air.'

Pneu Air has 150 outlets for its Uniflate nitrogen and AA Tyre Fit's 126 service centres used to offer nitrogen at £1 per wheel compared with about 20p for compressed air. However, the group stopped offering it two years ago.

According to the Environment Agency, almost 50 million tyres are removed in Britain each year.

Tyres filled with compressed air deflate faster than those using nitrogen. This leads to greater wear and more tyres ending up on landfill sites. Pneu Air believes using nitrogen would ease tyre waste.

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