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Old 06-29-13, 03:10 PM   #1
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Which states require Gas stations to have air pumps?

Not cycling related, but I 'm curious as to whether or not anyone knows this:

Is it true that some states have laws that require gas stations to have functioning, working air pumps, that they do not charge people to use? This used to be a very standard
thing at gas stations, along with free maps and trading stamps. (Yes, I'm drifting into old fart city. I do know that.)

MA has no such law. Very few gas stations today have working air pumps, or if they do, you must deposit anywhere form fifty cents, to a buck-twenty-five to get air.
Of course, these pumps usually dispense air very slowly, and very frequently, they are "out of order". Just try to get station personnel to respond to this. Hoo hah.

So, anyone know which states require functioning air pumps? I'm told Oregon outlaws self-service pumps. If true, How is that working out?
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Old 06-29-13, 03:19 PM   #2
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According to this site, Conn and CA are the only states that require free air, but this will help you find it other places.

http://www.freeairpump.com/
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Old 06-29-13, 03:42 PM   #3
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According to this site, Conn and CA are the only states that require free air, but this will help you find it other places.

http://www.freeairpump.com/
Never realized it was the law here in CT. The gas station down the street charges but there is a button underneath that you can push to activate without paying.
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Old 06-29-13, 04:08 PM   #4
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Never realized it was the law here in CT. The gas station down the street charges but there is a button underneath that you can push to activate without paying.
I wonder if that's the case in SC. During my brief (9 month) stint in SC, I discovered pay pumps. That was a rude awakening. However, I have lived in a spoiled Wisconsin cave much of my life.

Shouldn't "free" pumps be present to encourage drivers to regularly check their tires? I just assume that the stations that do have them simply factor their cost and maintenance into the cost of doing business.
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Old 06-29-13, 04:30 PM   #5
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Every month or so, I just whip out the floor pump and top off the car, motorcycle and bicycle tires.
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Old 06-29-13, 04:40 PM   #6
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The cars and the motorcycles once a month, check.

The bikes, especially the skinny tire bikes, almost every ride.
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Old 06-29-13, 04:41 PM   #7
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I wonder if that's the case in SC. During my brief (9 month) stint in SC, I discovered pay pumps. That was a rude awakening. However, I have lived in a spoiled Wisconsin cave much of my life.

Shouldn't "free" pumps be present to encourage drivers to regularly check their tires? I just assume that the stations that do have them simply factor their cost and maintenance into the cost of doing business.
Underinflated tires make you buy more gas. And if there was ever a business E. Scrooge would be in it's fuel delivery.
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Old 06-29-13, 06:02 PM   #8
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Some places offer free air pumps and others don't. Ironically, the free pumps tend to be maintained while the pay pumps are routinely out of service.
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Old 06-29-13, 06:04 PM   #9
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I wonder if that's the case in SC. During my brief (9 month) stint in SC, I discovered pay pumps. That was a rude awakening. However, I have lived in a spoiled Wisconsin cave much of my life.

Shouldn't "free" pumps be present to encourage drivers to regularly check their tires? I just assume that the stations that do have them simply factor their cost and maintenance into the cost of doing business.
Times are a changing. High performance/high mileage tires are being filled with nitrogen... not sure I want Joe Sixpack futzing around with that stuff.
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Old 06-29-13, 06:50 PM   #10
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Here in N.J. the pay pumps seem to be more common. There's a station on my way from work that's clean and with a free air pump. I'm cool with spending a few cents more for the gas.

I always check pressure with my own tire gauge, though. And the bikes get aired up with a hand pump.
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Old 06-29-13, 07:20 PM   #11
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Times are a changing. High performance/high mileage tires are being filled with nitrogen... not sure I want Joe Sixpack futzing around with that stuff.
Nitrogen for tires is pretty good stuff. I started on it to humor a auto maintenance manager that I liked and made sure I had great service when I was a road warrior. But it does stay in your tires longer. I would love to have it in my bike tires. As big a fan as I am of CO2 for roadside bike tire fixes, it leaks through the rubber at a phenomenal rate.

I am not a road warrior any longer so it's plain old air for me, but I take comfort that 70% of that is good old N.
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Old 06-30-13, 02:50 AM   #12
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I'd carry something like this:


and don't worry about the gas station.

There are several like it now, small but powerful, with a gauge, and able to get to 120 without hulk power. You can get a good one now for under $50. I'm sure the OP did not mean to offer the gas station as a replacement, but just tossing it out there.
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Old 06-30-13, 03:51 AM   #13
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Never realized it was the law here in CT. The gas station down the street charges but there is a button underneath that you can push to activate without paying.
To be precise, CT law requires stations that sell more than 10,000 gallons per month to provide free air during business hours only. They are also required to post signs stating that. Enforcement is spotty however due to low budgets for the FAP. The local station often has no hose connected to the free air source..........because it get's stolen. Life's a beach.
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Old 06-30-13, 05:23 AM   #14
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I've wanted one of these ever since seeing a pro wrench use one for cyclocross support.

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Old 06-30-13, 07:04 AM   #15
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Nitrogen for tires is pretty good stuff. I started on it to humor a auto maintenance manager that I liked and made sure I had great service when I was a road warrior. But it does stay in your tires longer. I would love to have it in my bike tires. As big a fan as I am of CO2 for roadside bike tire fixes, it leaks through the rubber at a phenomenal rate.

I am not a road warrior any longer so it's plain old air for me, but I take comfort that 70% of that is good old N.
Nitrogen doesn't necessarily "stay in your tires longer", it just doesn't change volume with temperature fluctuations like normal air does.
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Old 06-30-13, 07:35 AM   #16
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Nitrogen doesn't necessarily "stay in your tires longer", it just doesn't change volume with temperature fluctuations like normal air does.
Ever heard of Boyles law? It applies to ALL gasses. All tires heat up as they are used on the road, and all gases expand when heated.

If there is any advantage to nitrogen, it is that the gas is dried before being "bottled" and thus may offer a less corrosive environment to the wheel and tire. But I doubt there are any advantages, and most likely it is simply yet another scam foisted on the pubic.

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Old 06-30-13, 07:56 AM   #17
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According to this site, Conn and CA are the only states that require free air, but this will help you find it other places.

http://www.freeairpump.com/
If California requries them, then every station near me is in violation of this regualtion. But realistically, how useful would they be for bicycles? I've never seen one with a Presta valve adaptor on it.
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Old 06-30-13, 08:01 AM   #18
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Ever heard of Boyles law? It applies to ALL gasses. All tires heat up as they are used on the road, and all gases expand when heated.

If there is any advantage to nitrogen, it is that the gas is dried before being "bottled" and thus may offer a less corrosive environment to the wheel and tire. But I doubt there are any advantages, and most likely it is simply yet another scam foisted on the pubic.
I believe that the dryness of nitrogen helps in the Boyles law pressure changes. The water vapor may cause a more radical change due to the compound mixture in the tire.
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Old 06-30-13, 08:07 AM   #19
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Nitrogen doesn't necessarily "stay in your tires longer", it just doesn't change volume with temperature fluctuations like normal air does.
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Ever heard of Boyles law? It applies to ALL gasses. All tires heat up as they are used on the road, and all gases expand when heated.

If there is any advantage to nitrogen, it is that the gas is dried before being "bottled" and thus may offer a less corrosive environment to the wheel and tire. But I doubt there are any advantages, and most likely it is simply yet another scam foisted on the pubic.

Popular Mechanics says
:There are several compelling reasons to use pure nitrogen in tires.

First is that nitrogen is less likely to migrate through tire rubber than is oxygen, which means that your tire pressures will remain more stable over the long term. Racers figured out pretty quickly that tires filled with nitrogen rather than air also exhibit less pressure change with temperature swings. That means more consistent inflation pressures during a race as the tires heat up. And when you're tweaking a race car's handling with half-psi changes, that's important.
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Old 06-30-13, 08:24 AM   #20
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Ever heard of Boyles law? It applies to ALL gasses. All tires heat up as they are used on the road, and all gases expand when heated.

If there is any advantage to nitrogen, it is that the gas is dried before being "bottled" and thus may offer a less corrosive environment to the wheel and tire. But I doubt there are any advantages, and most likely it is simply yet another scam foisted on the pubic.
Yes, *gasses* do follow the ideal gas law quite well. But the water inside the tire can be in either vapor or liquid form and that results in a departure from the normal temperature vs. pressure relationship of the gas law. If the water vapor condenses out inside the tire as it cools down then the pressure drops more rapidly. So using a dry gas instead of air results in a more stable tire pressure.

Furthermore nitrogen gas does stay in the tire better than the nitrogen/oxygen mixture of regular air. Oxygen can form temporary bonds to the rubber molecules so it tends to stick to them and is more likely to gradually diffuse through the rubber and escape compared to nitrogen.
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Old 06-30-13, 09:46 AM   #21
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All I know is the couple of times I filled a road bike tire with CO2 is the next day it was really soft. That stuff migrates through rubber quickly. Pump that tire/tube combo with the hand pump afterward and I experienced normal deflation over time.
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Old 06-30-13, 10:15 AM   #22
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Yes, *gasses* do follow the ideal gas law quite well. But the water inside the tire can be in either vapor or liquid form and that results in a departure from the normal temperature vs. pressure relationship of the gas law. If the water vapor condenses out inside the tire as it cools down then the pressure drops more rapidly. So using a dry gas instead of air results in a more stable tire pressure.

Furthermore nitrogen gas does stay in the tire better than the nitrogen/oxygen mixture of regular air. Oxygen can form temporary bonds to the rubber molecules so it tends to stick to them and is more likely to gradually diffuse through the rubber and escape compared to nitrogen.
I did mention the drying aspect of nitrogen. (could be done with any gas, if it is dried during compression)

But regarding air vrs nitrogen, bear in mind that 80% of air is nitrogen, and only about 18% is oxygen... so at worse case, you may lose 18% of your tire pressure over time. Or maybe 6PSI in a 35 PSI system. I think that can be maintained with an air pump, used periodically.

Just what does nitrogen cost anyway?
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Old 06-30-13, 11:26 AM   #23
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Popular Mechanics says
:There are several compelling reasons to use pure nitrogen in tires.

First is that nitrogen is less likely to migrate through tire rubber than is oxygen, which means that your tire pressures will remain more stable over the long term. Racers figured out pretty quickly that tires filled with nitrogen rather than air also exhibit less pressure change with temperature swings. That means more consistent inflation pressures during a race as the tires heat up. And when you're tweaking a race car's handling with half-psi changes, that's important.
And Edmonds says it is all a waste of money.

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Based on cost, convenience and actual performance benefit, we don't think nitrogen is worth it. A much better use of your money would be to buy a good tire-pressure gauge and check your tires frequently.
http://www.edmunds.com/car-care/shou...-nitrogen.html
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Old 06-30-13, 01:38 PM   #24
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If California requries them, then every station near me is in violation of this regualtion. But realistically, how useful would they be for bicycles? I've never seen one with a Presta valve adaptor on it.
I leave a presta adapter screwed on a valve stem of each of my bikes. You can also use a longer screw or bolt to carry an adapter on any un used braze on on your bike. Remove bolt from braze on, put longer bolt of same thread size through adapter and screw into braze on. Voila, you always have one with you.
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Old 06-30-13, 05:08 PM   #25
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I leave a presta adapter screwed on a valve stem of each of my bikes. You can also use a longer screw or bolt to carry an adapter on any un used braze on on your bike. Remove bolt from braze on, put longer bolt of same thread size through adapter and screw into braze on. Voila, you always have one with you.
That is what I recommend at my flat repair clinics: Always keep an adapter with you. That one time you discover your tire is low and pass a gas station with a Schrader valve compressor fitting and don't have the adapter will teach you by having to suffer with hand pumping. Even the best manual pumps take way more effort than a compressor.

I also recommend using the "thumb gauge" with compressors. Whenever you accurately fill your tire to your preferred pressure, test it with your thumb dug in to the tire sidewall. Then when using an unknown compressor to fill your tire (some gas station compressors are capable of 200PSI+!), "goose" it in small increments until it "feels right" to your thumb, you may be surprised at how accurate your sense of touch is as well as prevent a serious blowout if you're less than attentive. Blowouts can destroy the tube, the tire and even the rim.
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