What Type of Air Does Costco Put in Tires?

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Costco, a giant in the retail world, is renowned for its wide range of products and services. One service that often goes under the radar is Costco’s tire center, where they offer tire replacements, rotations, and inflations. What sets Costco apart is the type of air they use to inflate tires – Nitrogen. But why does Costco use nitrogen, and how does it benefit you as a consumer? Let’s delve deeper.


Costco uses nitrogen to inflate tires at their tire centers. Nitrogen is chosen over compressed air due to its various benefits including better pressure retention, improved fuel economy, and increased tire longevity. This service is offered at no extra cost in Costco’s Installation Package.

Why Does Costco Use Nitrogen?

The choice to use nitrogen instead of compressed air isn’t arbitrary. Nitrogen provides several key benefits:

  1. Pressure Retention: Nitrogen molecules are larger than those of oxygen, which makes nitrogen less likely to leak from tires. This means your tires will retain optimal pressure for longer, reducing the need for frequent top-ups.
  2. Fuel Economy: Proper tire pressure plays a crucial role in your vehicle’s fuel economy. With nitrogen maintaining better pressure over time, you may see improvements in your vehicle’s fuel efficiency.
  3. Longevity: Nitrogen is less likely to cause oxidation and degradation of the rubber in tires compared to oxygen, potentially extending the lifespan of your tires.

Nitrogen vs. Compressed Air: What’s the Difference?

Compressed air, which is commonly used for tire inflation, already contains about 80% nitrogen. However, it’s the remaining 20% – primarily made up of oxygen – that can cause problems. Oxygen can lead to oxidation, which can degrade tire rubber over time. Nitrogen, being less reactive, minimizes this risk.

The Impact on Vehicle Performance

The benefits of nitrogen go beyond tire longevity and fuel economy. Correct tire pressure also enhances the handling and overall performance of your vehicle. Nitrogen-filled tires may require less frequent pressure checks and adjustments, contributing to better overall tire maintenance.

Are There Any Downsides?

There’s no significant downside to using nitrogen in tires. The only potential inconvenience could be finding suppliers, as not all tire shops offer nitrogen. However, with Costco offering this service, it’s a moot point for their customers.

The Costco Advantage

Unlike many other tire centers, Costco offers nitrogen inflation at no extra cost. This service is included in Costco’s Installation Package, which also covers Lifetime Maintenance Services such as inflation pressure checks, tire balancing, tire rotations, and flat repairs.

The recommended air pressure for your tires is vehicle-specific. To find the correct air pressure, check the tire and loading information label located on the inside of the driver’s side door. Following the manufacturer’s recommendations ensures optimal tire performance and safety.

In conclusion, Costco’s choice to use nitrogen to inflate tires is a decision rooted in providing value to customers. From potentially extending tire life to improving fuel economy, the benefits of nitrogen inflation are clear. The next time you need to inflate your tires, consider the nitrogen advantage at Costco.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use nitrogen in any type of tire?

Yes, nitrogen can be used in any type of tire, including passenger vehicles, trucks, motorcycles, and even bicycles.

Is it possible to mix nitrogen and regular air in a tire?

Yes, it’s possible to mix nitrogen and regular air in a tire. If you can’t find a nitrogen supplier, topping up your tires with regular air is fine.

Do I need to deflate my tires before inflating them with nitrogen?

Yes, to get the full benefits of nitrogen, it’s recommended to fully deflate your tires before inflating them with nitrogen. However, in practice, many places offering nitrogen inflation simply top up your existing air-filled tires with nitrogen.

Can nitrogen-filled tires be repaired if punctured?

Yes, tires filled with nitrogen can be repaired if punctured. The repair process is the same as for tires filled with regular air.

Is there a risk of explosion if the tire is filled with nitrogen?

No, there’s no additional risk of explosion when using nitrogen. In fact, because nitrogen is less reactive than oxygen, some argue that nitrogen-filled tires are actually safer.

Does Costco offer nitrogen inflation for tires not purchased there?

Yes, Costco will inflate tires with nitrogen even if you didn’t purchase the tires from them. However, there may be a small fee for the service.

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