Guide & Tips

What Happens If I Fill My Tires With Helium In Place of Air?

It doesn’t matter if you’re driving through a large city or the winding roads of the mountains—the weight of the vehicle is vital. To reduce the weight of our cars, many of us look for strategies to do so. Helium is lighter than air, so what happens if you fill your tires with helium?

Helium gas is not suitable to inflate the tires. It is not much different from air in terms of weight from tires, which are heavier. As the helium molecules are tiny and cannot be held in place for a long time, the gas will leak out of the tires more quickly than air, leaving you behind with only flat tires.

Keep scrolling down as we will walk you through the possibilities if you fill your car tires with helium!

What Are The Issues If I Use Helium To Fill My Tires 

Helium is the second lightest element, having an atomic weight of 4.003u and an atomic number of 2. The atomic weight of air, in contrast, is 28.965u, making it seven times heavier than helium. Helium being the second smallest element,  this is where things become tricky when we talk about tires.

As a finite element that cannot be formed and is absent from the environment, you would not find helium in large quantities. It floats up and almost disappears off the surface of the planet due to its weight. ExxonMobil is the world’s largest producer of helium. Wyoming has deposits of CO2 along with methane gas which are specifically helium-rich. Helium is limited thus expensive for all the aforementioned reasons. Cost of using it as tire filler is way too high.

The helium atom just passes through the tire due to its small size. This leak persists, although not immediate. A normal tire cannot stop this from occurring. Since air is not particularly heavy, there is not that  much of a weight difference among the air and your car overall.

What Are The Advantages of Using Helium 

Corrosion is one problem that air can cause. Significant levels of water vapor are present in compressed air. Even if it is not that much, the water vapor is enough to precipitate into droplets and begin producing corrosion on the wheel and inside of the tire.

One benefit that pure helium has over air is that it is not corrosive. Though the benefits of preventing corrosion are more than its negatives, which are much more severe. But you can use nitrogen in the tires to stop rusting. This offers a number of advantages in addition to rust prevention.

Are There Options Other Than Helium To Fill Tires 

It is really important to keep in mind that air should always be inflated in tires. Nitrogen gas is the most popular substitute for normal air. The only suitable alternative to air for tire inflation is nitrogen. Nearly 78% of air is nitrogen, 21% is oxygen, and the other gasses include CO2 and others. So, going for  nitrogen is not a huge leap.

In order for a tire to maintain its ideal pressure over time, nitrogen seeps from tires more gradually. However, a Consumer Reports test published in 2007 found that this advantage is insignificant. In comparison to nitrogen-filled tires, air-filled tires lose pressure at a rate of 2.2 PSI on average over the course of a year. Over such a lengthy period of time, that is not much. And it’s not like you don’t still need to keep an eye on your tire pressure.

Since nitrogen-filled tires do not absorb moisture, they can help in avoiding wheel rot. This can be potentially important for long-haul vehicles as they utilize tires that have been retread many times over thousands of kilometers. However, before moisture starts corroding the most delicate alloy wheel, most civilian tires would have worn out.

Nitrogen has a low moisture content and is stable and dry, this is the reason why it does not heat up or expand as much as other gasses do. Due to the very high forces on the tire in a racecar, this can be very significant. The fact that it is chilly up in the air and frequently extremely hot when an aircraft lands is another advantage for the tires. The circumstances are rarely so severe for the majority of drivers.

What Are Advantages of Filling Tires With Nitrogen 

Due to the lower thermal reactivity of nitrogen, the tire pressure will fluctuate less due to changing weather and climatic conditions. This is the reason why race cars and airplanes both use nitrogen as their preferred gas. There are other advantages of using nitrogen as listed below.

  • Pure nitrogen maintains the ideal pressure of the tire more effectively than air as it does not dissipate much quickly.
  • The air itself allows helium to go from the tire. This also goes for nitrogen and air, but air escapes in much smaller quantities than helium does.
  • Nitrogen leaks far more slowly than air, dissipating only 1-3 PSI on average each month. Nitrogen can be used to solve this problem if you do not drive your car very much, as in the case with a show car.

Also, the rubber in your tire does not react badly with nitrogen. The reaction, referred to as a thermo-oxidative reaction, occurs in air. Your tire gradually deteriorates due to this reaction. Usually, the thermo-oxidative reaction does not necessitate you for a tire change until the tire tread has worn to the point of replacement.

What More Should You Know? 

What Can Helium Be Used For 

There are five categories which are used for categorizing the most common helium applications:

Purging: NASA and the US military are the second largest helium-utilizing sector. Helium is usually used for cleansing the pure liquid hydrogen along with liquid oxygen fuel tanks and lines in rockets.

Lifting: The major use for helium is lift, which may or may not come as a surprise for you. Yes, more helium is used to fill balloons for parties and other events compared to any other sector

Superconductivity: Helium is an integral element of the MRI machine because of its very low boiling point. Any other substance would just freeze, but it serves as a refrigerant.

Basic research: Helium is mostly used as a cooling agent in research experiments at super low temperatures, as down as few millikelvins from absolute zero.

Welding: Talking about gas tungsten arc welding, helium frequently makes an excellent substitute for argon. Aluminum, titanium, and stainless steel are usually joined using this kind of welding.

Wrap Up 

Helium is ultimately not a suitable gas for the inflation of your tire. Your tire would not be able to contain the gas, despite the fact that it is less dense than air.

Simply put, the rubber of your tire will allow the helium to seep out. Nitrogen is a good option for tires if you wish to replace the air.

We hope that now you have got to know if you can inflate your tires with helium or not. Hit the comment section if you still have any confusion. We would love to serve you with the needed guidance!

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