Regular readers of my blog and Hometown News column will know that I’ve been spreading the word about the “nitrogen in tires” scam for several years. My first column was “Don’t Pay for Nitrogen in Your Tires in early 2007. Subsequently I wrote “Nitrogen and Shark Cartilage”, “Nitrogen Scam Foisted on Palm Tran”, and most recently “Tests Say Nitrogen Doesn’t Improve Fuel Economy in PB County Buses”.
Just to bring new readers up to speed on this issue, I’ll summarize my position on the false claims that buying Nitrogen to put in your tires will improve your fuel economy, lengthen tire life, and improve your driving safety.
(1) Over three years ago, Consumer Reports magazine revealed the results of a yearlong test of the effectiveness of Nitrogen to improve fuel economy. They concluded that Nitrogen was worthless in improving fuel economy, tire wear, or safety.
(2) In 2007, Chuck Cohen, the executive director of the Palm Tran, the PB County bus system, announced that he was investing $60,000 of taxpayers’ money in equipment to put Nitrogen in all tires on his buses to “save the taxpayers” lots of money on diesel fuel and tires. He said that there was a study being conducted to judge whether this idea was a good one. When the results of the study were revealed about one year later, the conclusion was “From the previous data analysis we conclude that there is yet no observable effect in the fuel efficiency due to nitrogen tire inflation for group of buses in this experiment.” It was after this that I wrote my last column on this subject.
(3) Astoundingly, when I followed up with Chuck Cohen do learn when he would stop wasting our money putting Nitrogen in his bus tires, he told me that he didn’t like the results of the test and was going to conduct another. He told me that he would make public the results of the second round of tests within the year. That was almost two years ago and no test results so far.
(4) Finally, my main interest in the Nitrogen scam is that so many car owners are paying car dealers to put Nitrogen in their tires. One dealer in Stuart actually was charging $199. Many dealers are adding Nitrogen to the price on the window sticker and many others are selling it in the service drive.
The thing that really angers me most about what Palm Beach County is doing is that it provides unscrupulous car dealers with an argument to sell Nitrogen to their unsuspecting customers. If the customer asks why she has to pay an extra $150 because the dealer added Nitrogen to the tires in the car she’s buying, the salesman simply says, “Do you think Palm Beach County would be using Nitrogen in their bus tires if it wasn’t a good idea?” By the way, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s department opted not to use Nitrogen in their tires.
The local municipalities are nearly bankrupt and all of them are cutting back on city and county workers and services to us taxpayers. Recently Port St. Lucie laid off a large number of police officers. Why don’t they look inward and stop wasting our money on the Nitrogen scam?