Helping Techs Fix Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Educating the consumer is still number one. It's not an easy sell; it's still an uphill battle.

"What that means is, whenever they fill a tire, they have a bypass that runs nitrogen to the tire. What they're using for their hydraulics and for the ballast tank is normal air," said Lang.

Several major tire dealer chains are adopting nitrogen tire technology, so be sure to check in on those shops regularly where initial knowledge
is above the curve. Family-owned shops and smaller chains are slow to investigate.

The jury is out
"There hasn't been definitive evidence that says there's an absolute benefit in normal car, passenger or light truck duty usage," Zarlengo said. "We do know for a fact that there is a lot of benefit in extreme duty places.

"The jury, in my opinion, is the manufacturers of the tires themselves. They have to say, 'Yes, I want everyone to put nitrogen in their tires.' "
Nitrogen feed systems can have anywhere from one to five filters, and flow rates ranging from 1-2 to 5-6 cfm (larger systems run at about 6 cfm, and can cost as much as $20,000).

"Independent shops will buy the systems if they feel there's some benefit to it," said Zarlengo. But many small shops feel they simply can't afford to invest in something without solid proof of a return. (The smallest nitrogen feed systems run about $3,699 for a 1 cfm, 6-gallon, 116-psi machine, making it a hard sell.)

Time will only tell if nitrogen systems will find their way into the mainstream.

"Large Fortune 500 companies are realizing the benefits nitrogen can provide to the environment and enjoy having that green image," said Lang "so other companies are trending towards being environmentally-friendly, too."

"There are people out there who think, 'I just don't have the money to buy this right now.' But what [mobile distributors] need to realize when selling this equipment is that educating the consumer is still number one. It's not an easy sell; it's still an uphill battle."

It remains to be seen whether and when a turning point will come. But with talk about benefits like fewer emissions, improved gas mileage and longer tire wear, it seems worth a closer look.

Paul Zarlengo, Mac Tools.
Ryan Lang, Air Solutions and Ingersoll Rand
Industrial Technologies.

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