Have you been dreaming of converting you vehicle to CNG? This would mean that you could burn a cleaner fuel, run your car more economically (in many States), and you could be out there ahead of the curve. The whole idea of converting a vehicle to CNG is a little macho. I mean you have high pressure fuel tanks, engine fueling system modification with the result of lower fuel costs and a cleaner running fuel.
All of these things added together equal a very desirable dream machine for a man.
As people (mostly men) contact me about converting to CNG they seem to ask same questions over and over. Here are my standard answers for the most common questions.
Can I convert my vehicle to CNG?
A simple answer to this question is yes but ultimately there are many determining factors:
Your car needs to be gasoline rather than diesel.
You need to have enough room to fit a CNG tank.
You need to be able to afford it.
You need to have a filling station close to your home or own a home filling station.
You must be experienced enough to install and maintain the system yourself or be able to pay someone to do so.
How much will a conversion cost?
If you are a mechanic that is capable of installing your own system you could get your car running on CNG for the price of a kit and a tank. This is not the typical situation though.
A modern sequential system runs from $1700 on up. A CNG tank can run from a few hundred dollars for a used one to a few thousand for a new one depending on the size. Installing the system can cost from $1500 on up. This depends on the tank and engine configuration and some of the tank mounting and brackets.
How big of a CNG tank can I use?
This all depends on your vehicle and your budget.
If you owned a truck you could fill up the bed if you never used it. Cars usually put the tanks in the trunk, the smaller the car the smaller the tank. Typically a CNG tank is about twice as big as a propane tank, a 10 GGE (gasoline gallon equivalent) CNG tank is about as big as a 20 gallon propane tank.
As stated earlier there are used tanks available with time left on them (a CNG tank expires after 15 years) these are usually available for under $1000. New tank prices depend on the size and type you want. Heavier steel (type 1) tanks are cheaper and lightweight composite (type 4) tanks are the most expensive.
Will my power and fuel economy go down?
I have seen conversions where power is the same and the fuel economy even goes up a little. Typically with the newer sequential systems a good tuner can help you to keep your fuel mileage and power.
After I answer the common questions, I usually ask several questions to try to pre-qualify them as a candidate for converting.
Why do you want to convert to CNG?
I ask this question to determine their commitment level to completing the conversion. The answer to this question is usually very personal. Some want to convert because it’s the “green” thing to do. A person may just want to get a CNG conversion to be ready for the next time the gasoline prices soar. They may want the 60% savings a person can have now in Utah. When gasoline was above $4.00 and CNG in Utah was under a dollar the savings was a no brainer.
Do you have a CNG filling station close to your home that sells at a reasonable price?
If a person has CNG readily available it makes it more practical for them to proceed. This is very easy to determine, go to http://www.cngprices.com and look up your area. Be careful because they list public and private stations. If you are not sure if you can fill up call the number listed for your closest station. There are home filling stations available but they are usually a significant investment from $3000 for a rebuilt Fuelmaker on up for new machines.
Are there regulations either State or Federal that could keep you from licensing your vehicle?
If you won’t be able to license your converted vehicle you won’t be able to drive it.
Can you afford a conversion?
There is no such thing as a “cheap” CNG Conversion. A person will have to be willing to make a significant financial investment. Plan on $3000 (if you are a mechanic that can do the install yourself, cost includes kit, used tank, brackets etc.) on up to around $6000 (including kit, new tank, brackets, labor, etc.) and up to have a qualified mechanic do the conversion.
Nationwide there are people that want to convert to CNG. Anyone who truly wants to convert their vehicle to CNG and is willing to put in time and energy and financial resources can make it happen. If you make that investment now, when fuel prices go up you will be ahead of the crowd. There will be pioneers in this industry and they may take a few arrows, like all pioneers do, but the pioneers are the heroes. I for one will continue to move forward in this new frontier.
Jim Younkin is a mechanic with more than thirty years experience in automotive repair. His passions include car racing, mountain climbing, ice climbing, and CNG conversions. He enjoys sharing his passions and connecting with other of like mind. See more about Jim at http://www.younkincng.com
email: firstname.lastname@example.org or 801-427-2284