This morning I threw the wheels into the bed of my truck and took them to Used Tires Express in Culver City for balancing. I never paid much attention to this shop, other than as a fragment of cityscape on my drive to work in the mornings. Their image is green oriented, meaning they recycle tires by certifying them for reuse, including a manufacturer’s warranty. I expected to drop my tires for pickup the following morning, but their man Dave took them straight to the spin balancer and did the whole job in about 10 minutes.
I noticed a tank of pure nitrogen that was another feature of their green business model. Filling tires with nitrogen is usually done on the racetrack to reduce thermal tire pressure fluctuations, but Dave offers this service to the average driver for a couple more reasons. Nitrogen permeates rubber tire walls less easily than regular air, so tires stay at optimum pressure longer which allows better gas mileage. Also, nitrogen has less of an oxidizing effect on rubber, reducing tire aging and rim corrosion, and slowing their march to the landfill. Dave filled up my tires, and I was on my merry way in less than 20 minutes total. I don’t know whether the nitrogen is going to make much difference, but when I’m ready to shop for those Sumitomo HTR-200 low rolling resistance tires, I’m looking here first.