Dreaming about Converting to CNG in 2010

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: younkin@gmail.com or 801-427-2284

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8 Responses to Dreaming about Converting to CNG in 2010

  1. Dan says:

    Curious why you say “Your car has to be gas rather than diesel”

    I want to convert/ bi-fuel my diesel, is this not possible?
    I’m a mechanic by trade so skill shouldn’t be a problem 🙂

    • Jim Younkin says:

      There are some diesel/CNG systems also you can rebuild a diesel add sparkplugs and it will run on CNG but i don’t do that, Jim

  2. Gonzalo says:

    Juim, this is Gonzalo from Argentina. I will be in Miami and NYC in October. Wondering if you know anyone over there I can visit on CNG matters.
    Hope you are OK.
    Gonzalo

  3. mike says:

    im thinking of converting to CNG
    is it worth it in California.
    what are the issues with CARB?

  4. DINESH PATEL says:

    February 15, 2010

    President Obama
    White House

    I would like to take this opportunity to convey my experience with CNG (Compress Natural Gas fuel) and the need for it here in the United States.

    When I was in Ahmadabad, Gujarat, state in India in 1976 while attending college the pollution from vehicle emissions was so bad the air was hard to breathe with the diesel and kerosene smell. It was so bad it burned your eyes.

    10 years ago Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, allowed the gasoline car CNG retrofit kit, making it possible for cars to run on CNG instead of gasoline. The retrofit kit allows vehicles to run on a duel fuel system allowing them to run on gasoline or CNG. He was faced with much opposition from other state and government politicians. They were under the impression CNG would be a safety hazard, causing explosion on impact in accidents. He persisted even with much opposition. Today in Ahmadabad compared to 1976 the C02 levels are less than 50%. This is very effective especially considering the number of vehicles has doubled since 1976. It has been proven that CNG tanks do not explode on impact.

    In India central government which first opposed the retrofit kit for public safety, has now approved and adopted this in other Indian cities and states.

    It benefits the country by saving billions of dollars by not importing foreign oil. It creates jobs with the kit manufacturing and installation and running natural gas pipes. The general public can afford to convert their existing vehicles allowing them more savings while greatly reducing the emissions and pollution. Many of the existing gas stations already have a natural gas line for heating purposes. There would be little cost to the gas stations to install the compress pump.

    Furthermore gas is stored in in-ground a tanks which contaminates the soil. With CNG natural gas pipes are ran eliminating the need for in ground tanks avoiding soil contamination.

    Gasoline in the US verses CNG would be a 50% savings that would allow the public to save money being spent on gas allowing them purchase other products stimulating the economy.

    If you only approve the CNG for light vehicles insurance companies would be able to provide coverage for vehicles using CNG.

    GM released Volt and Honda released the hydro fuel cell car, however the general public can not afford to purchase these vehicles.
    If in the future a car manufacture can provide an affordable alternative (electric car) the CNG kits can be phased out.

    With many politicians being influenced by oil companies it must be hard to make decisions based on the public’s well being first and the oil company second. However it is time to make the hard choices for our people and environment. Your consideration is appreciated.

    I would also like to take this opportunity to express my concerns about Healthcare with my personal experience.

    On February 5th my son was experiencing severe diarrhea. He was seen at First Care where the doctor took blood sample for CBC test and stool samples for culture test. Stool culture test take 3-4 days to complete. On Saturday, February 7, his condition worsened and I took him to the emergency room at Carolinas Medical Center Union. I explained his previous doctor visit on Feb.5th and explained we were waiting on the test results that should be back very soon, however the staff at the hospital still took a stool sample and ordered another culture test. Electronics medical record is essential for the public to eliminate double testing. This will save not only money but will save the patients from enduring pain full procedures twice. This will ensure public health and save lives by making allergies and previous conditions available to anyone providing emergency services especially when the patient is unconscious and can not speak for themselves.

    We are in need of more doctors and dentists. Have you tried getting an appointment for a doctor or dentist visit the day you call? It is almost impossible. The doctors and dentists currently practicing can not keep up with the healthcare needs of the public. There should be education incentives to get good qualified people that may not be able to afford college enrolled. The colleges should get funds from the government to create more class space allowing more people to get their medical degree. With more doctors/dentists this creates more choices for the people. With more competition they would have to keep costs reasonable.

    The chance that a doctor or dentist would cause harm on purpose is not very likely. Accidents and misjudgments will happen, as in any profession. The laws should make it a lot tougher to sue a medical professional. In cases that law suites are warranted there should be caps on settlements. People in this country are too quick to sue and win outrageous settlements for minor occurrences and inconveniences.

    Thank you for your attention to these matters.

    Sincerely,

    Denish Patel

    cc: Mitch McConnell – Senate Minority Leader
    cc: Harry Reid – Senate Majority Leader
    cc: Nancy Pelosi – House Majority Leader
    cc: Sue Myrick – House of Representatives (NC)
    cc: Larry Kissell – House of Representatives (NC)
    cc: Richard Burr – Senator (NC)
    cc: Kay Hagan – Senator (NC)

  5. Pingback: Oldies but Goodies, CNG Articles from the past… | YounkinCNG.com

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