When checking tyres has you seeing red
What really puts me off this tyre pressure checking stuff is that it’s such a dirty business. The road grime on valve caps is one thing, but the grease on service station pressure gauges and air hoses is quite another. It’s that kind of sticky black grease that only Solvol, a nail brush and elbow grease can remove.
So, to cut to the chase. There I was at a tyre dealer last month, about to have my car fitted with four new tyres. That’s a big investment in anyone’s books. After discussing the pros and cons of this tyre and that, I finally decided on the ones that offer “improved fuel efficiency, superior wet weather braking and added durability”. Deal done. Or so I thought.
Then Tyre Man hit me with the upsell. “For a few extra dollars, love, we can inflate your tyres with nitrogen,” he says. “Did you know nitrogen is used in jet planes and racing cars?” I smiled on cue, you know the kind of weak smile that means “No, I don’t want fries with that”. But before I could escape, Tyre Man brought in the big guns. “If you go for nitrogen, love, you won’t have to check your tyres for six months.” Now he had my interest – and shortly he had my money. All $30 more of it.
For a few extra dollars, love, we can inflate your tyres with nitrogen”
Two hours later, I was driving away on four new tyres, each equipped with a nifty red valve cap to indicate that I’d joined the Nitrogen Inflation Club. When I got home I decided to do the research I should’ve done before I signed up for the NIC. Shades of shutting the gate after the horse has bolted, but still good to be informed, don’t you think?
First stop was the RACQ website. “Using nitrogen does not remove or reduce the need to check tyre pressures as the risk of a puncture or slow leak is not altered”. Talk about taking the wind out of a girl’s sails. I felt like a becalmed super maxi on Boxing Day. But the RACQ left the cruellest blow for last. “Overall, while accepting the possibility of purified nitrogen being of benefit in certain applications, we don’t think that the cost and possible inconvenience are justified for normal passenger car use.”
My money had just gone up in smoke – or nitrogen. So is nitrogen inflation just a load of hot air? Only time will tell but I’ll be sure to keep you posted. Meantime, I find myself spotting those red caps wherever I go.
Postscript: My beloved husband, Mr C, who has his own compressor and tyre pressure gauge, checks the tyre pressure on my car every month in keeping with RACQ recommendations. Thanks, Darling.