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Monday, May 28, 2012

How to get dry air for your tires

A good part of the discussion on the advantages of inflating tires with Nitrogen focuses on stable inflation pressure which seems to be of concern to some. Now for race car application this is important and the benefits are meaningful in that application but I do not think that a fluctuation of a few psi due to temperature variation is meaningful in normal highway use. Measurable but not meaningful.

I can accept the fact that no matter what my opinion is, some will still argue that stable tire pressure is desirable, so they feel the expense and complications of using Nitrogen are worth the cost. While there are some theoretical advantages to inflating tires with a gas that is low on oxygen, I don't think they are worth the effort. I have both Argon and a mix of Argon and CO2 available to me in my shop but I still use regular air from my compressor. The one thing I do have with the air in my compressor is the knowledge that the moisture level is low, as I have filters and water separators in my system.

But what do you do if you don't have a well equipped shop in your back yard but still want dry air? I am going to show you a set-up I have, that costs about $20 and can be used to inflate your tires for years to come.

Above is a small air drier system I use in my shop for some special equipment that needs especially dry air, you can duplicate it to ensure the air you are using to inflate your tires is dry.

The dryer is available at 2/$20 at WW Grainger as well as $8 ea at Advance Auto. Be sure the one you buy is rated for the air pressure you need. Harbor Freight units are rated only 95 psi.

•The air chuck is under $2 at Harbor freight
•Quick connector set is $5 a set or less at Harbor freight.

Note my four year old desiccant is purple not blue so I am getting close to needing to change the dryer which is a disposable unit. To help keep your dryer from getting old fast, keep it tightly sealed in a good zip-lock bag or some container with air tight top as I do.

There are too many individual air setups for me to identify all the possibilities but this simple dryer will deliver what you need.

Warning. If you are going to try and "dry out" the air in your tires by changing your "wet" air you need to jack up the tire so it is not contacting the ground. If you let air out don't go too low or you may have problems with losing the seal at the bead. A quick test to see if you have lots of moisture in your inflation air is to remove the valve core. If water spits out you have excess moisture in the tire. You may even need a tire store to service it to get the excess moisture out.

Hope this will save money for those wanting dryer air in their tires.


  1. And so what is the purpose of have dry air in a tire? Other than maybe keeping the rim interior from rusting, I see no sense in it. What am I missing?

  2. As I mentioned at the start of the post, some people feel the more constant pressure they get when they use Nitrogen is an advantage. The main reason some see larger pressure variation with temperature changes is because of the moisture in the air that was used to inflate their tires. Nitrogen is dryer than the air you get from some compressors because some shops do not filter the output of their compressor.

  3. For those looking for the dryers
    NAPA NTH 907292
    WW Grainger 6ZC63
    Harbor freight 68215
    SEARS SPM1189759601
    Home Depot Model # 50238


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