Motormouth: Don't waste your money filling tires with pure nitrogen

Bob Weber, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Business News

Q: I recently bought a used 2009 Chevy Cobalt from a local dealer. The tires are filled with nitrogen. I have been given many recommendations on filling the tires. One person told me you can't mix nitrogen with air (from an air pump at a gas station). Another person said you can.

If I can find a tire store that has nitrogen, they charge up to $30 per tire to fill. Can air be mixed with a nitrogen filled tire?

-- J.B., Allentown, Pa.

A: Air is already 78% nitrogen. It is a mix of oxygen (21%), argon (1%), carbon dioxide (0.04%) and small amounts of several other gases. So, why waste money on pure nitrogen? Use plain air or mix it with the nitrogen in your tires.

Most of the time you can get it for free, or for about a buck at some pumps at gas stations and 7-Elevens.

Q: I upgraded my 20-year-old snow blower to a new model that has an oil reservoir and does not need an oil/gas mixture. I still have 2 gallons of the oil/gas mix left. What is the best way to dispose of this? Could I use it in the new snow blower or my car, or is there somewhere I can take it that would dispose of it?


-- W.M., Chicago

A: If it is last year's fuel, you can probably dump it into your car or truck. I have had no problems mixing one part old gas to five parts fresh gas in the tank. You would need at least 10 gallons of fresh gas to dilute the two in the gas can.

Another option is to save it until your community has a hazardous waste collection event. Check with your local authorities for times and locations.

Q: I am one of many people who do not garage their car. When I see a winter storm approaching, I put an old bath towel on my front car window. Voila. When I need to drive my car, I peel off the towel and drive away while others are sitting there scraping away. Is there a better approach than this?


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