CNG Conversions in the United States a closer look
Over the past few years as the price of gasoline fluctuated higher and higher more and more motorists are choosing to convert their vehicles to Compressed Natural Gas. Even though there has been progress in CNG Conversion information area the consumers choice to convert is still fraught with miss-conceptions, urban legends and false opinions.
Oil companies, Natural Gas proponents, CNG Chat groups and Forums, Vehicle manufacturers, Clean City Groups, EPA Certified CNG upfitters and many others “seem” to promote CNG Conversions but what are they really promoting?
If you do an online search for CNG Conversions below are the answers you will find from the larger CNG Converters and CNG Promoters if you ask the question “can I convert my vehicle to natural gas?”
“Typically, certified installers will only perform a CNG conversion on new or nearly new vehicles. CNG conversion kits must meet stringent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and/or California Air Resources Board (CARB) requirements. Different states have different requirements on vehicle emissions, so please check whether your state follows EPA or CARB guidelines before purchasing or converting your vehicle.”
From From John Mittin of CNG Chat
“There is no shortage of illegal kits out there which purport to convert anything with four wheels to run on CNG. There is also no shortage of shadetree mechanics willing to throw these dubious kits on your vehicle. While they and you might never be caught, there are many downsides to this including: unqualified mechanics installing poorly engineered / dangerous high-pressure flammable gas systems; messing up the vehicle’s fueling system and diagnostics (engine light constantly on & burning up catalysts), fines and penalties; zero tax credits to offset the installation. If you are in California, don’t even think about it… CHP impounds vehicles without a valid CARB certificate.”
From Go Natural
“Why do some other companies claim that they can convert any vehicle to run on CNG?
Companies that offer all-make conversions are not selling EPA or CARB certified kits. These kits are illegal in all 50 states. These converters and the owners of these vehicles can be subject to penalties and fines. These kits are also typically less sophisticated in nature, which can have a negative impact on mileage, power and the durability of the engine and other components such as the catalytic converter(s).”
“The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires the manufacturers of aftermarket systems to certify that their conversion systems meet emissions and onboard vehicle diagnostics interface requirements. EPA can levy substantial fines for violating this requirement, since it is against the law to tamper with emissions systems on vehicles if the result is greater emissions.”
“Q What about retrofitting older vehicles?
A In March 2011, the U.S. EPA revised regulations covering the conversion of older vehicles. Under the new rules, manufacturers who offer aftermarket conversion systems intended for use on vehicles that are more than 2 model years old no longer are required to obtain a certificate of conformity for such systems and they no longer have to pay certification fees. The new rules, however, do require that EPA “approve” systems after reviewing test data submitted by the manufacturer. In order to encourage additional aftermarket systems, the rules streamline some testing requirements and allow manufacturers increased ability to combine vehicle and engine test groups, alleviating some of the costs associated with demonstrating emission benefits of natural gas systems. In the past, few manufacturers had been interested in offering systems for older vehicles due to technical complications associated with certifying such vehicles, but the new rules may change this.
Q What about vehicles that EPA considers beyond their useful life?
A EPA also finalized new requirements for vehicles or engines that have exceeded their useful life. For light duty vehicles, the useful life can be 8 – 10 years, or 100,000 to 150,000 miles in some cases. Ages and mileage for heavy-duty engines vary. As in the case of vehicles that are more than 2 model years old, EPA will no longer require manufacturers to obtain a certificate of conformity or pay a certification fee. Manufacturers, however, must obtain EPA approval in advance of selling such systems and they must provide a detailed description of their systems and indicate a basis for believing the systems will not comprise emissions when installed.
It is likely that manufactures of systems intended for such vehicles or engines will need to conduct some initial emissions testing to demonstrate the robustness of the strategies they employ and the capabilities of their equipment. EPA will provide an electronic posting of information concerning systems that it has approved.”
“Are your kits EPA Certified?
- No, and you are not required to have an EPA certified conversion kit installed on your car if it is over 2 years old. Most conversion kits installed throughout the USA are not EPA certified conversion kits.Conversion kits can be EPA approved for vehicles over 2 years old. Our conversion kits do not tamper with any engine devices or controls so they do not violate any anti tampering laws, however, we are in the process of getting our conversion kits EPA approved for many engines. We have tested the emissions on many vehicles using our kits and the engines always have fewer emissions when running on CNG.”
“Q, WHAT VEHICLES CAN I OR SHOULD I CONVERT TO BI-FUEL OR DUAL FUEL?
A. WE CAN CONVERT ALL INTERNAL COMBUSTION GASOLINE OR DIESEL ENGINES.
NON-E.P.A. CERTIFIED KITS ARE ALLOWED FOR ALL VEHICLES THAT OPERATE WITHIN OBDII AND OBDI GUIDELINES AS PER E.P.A.
CONVERTING VEHICLES TO RUN ON CNG IS A VERY HEALTHY THING TO DO FOR YOU, THE ENGINE, AND ENVIROMENT. MAKE SURE YOUR VEHICLE IS IN GOOD OPERATING CONDITIION BEFORE CONVERSION. CNG BURNS CLEANER THAN GASOLINE/DIESEL/PROPANE.
VEHICLES WITH LOWER MILEAGE, HARDNED CYLINDER HEAD VALVES AND WELL MAINTAINED ENGINES ARE RECOMMENDED.
Q. WILL IT VOID MY VEHICLE WARRANTY?
A. MAGNUSON MOSS WARRANTY ACT US Code – Title 15, Chapter 50, Sections 2301-2312
According to the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, a vehicle manufacturer cannot void the warranty of your vehicle due to an aftermarket part unless they can prove that the aftermarket part was the cause or contributed to the failure of the vehicle (15 U.S.C. 2302(C)). It’s always best to work with a performance-oriented dealership, but no matter who you choose, you’re protected by the law.
Section 2301-2312 of the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act:”
So after reading all of these opinions are you thoroughly confused? You are not alone. Let us look over these various statements and see if we can uncover the truth.
Three of the most miss used phrases that the enemies of aftermarket “non-EPA certified” CNG conversions like to throw around are “illegal CNG Conversion” , “tampering” and “substantial fines and penalties.”
Let’s answer the question are all “non-EPA certified” CNG conversions illegal?
From Blacks Law dictionary..
“What is ILLEGAL?
Not authorized by law; Illicit ; unlawful; contrary to law. Sometimes this term means merely that which lacks authority of or support from law; but more frequently it imports a violation. Etymologically, the word seems to convey the negative meaning only. But in ordinary use it has a severer, stronger signification; the idea of censure or condemnation for breaking law is usually presented.”
For some act to be illegal there must be a law that pertains to it, there needs to be proof that the law has been broken, also there needs to be enforcement of the law to make it a deterrent….. otherwise people ignore it.
From the EPA site:
“Under the Clean Air Act, EPA has the authority to regulate vehicle emissions. Vehicles and engines from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) must be certified to meet applicable emissions standards. Regulations are in place to ensure those emissions do not increase as a result of changes made to a vehicle or engine, including in a conversion. The Clean Air Act prohibits anyone from knowingly removing or rendering inoperative any device or design element installed on a certified vehicle or engine.”
As you can see even the EPA does not say that doing a conversion is tampering. They do say “ Regulations are in place to ensure those emissions do not increase as a result of changes made to a vehicle or engine, including in a conversion.”
The Clean Air Act prohibits anyone from “knowingly removing or rendering inoperative any device or design element installed on a certified vehicle or engine. ” In other words you can’t increase emissions or remove or modify pollution devices.
Many vehicles on the road have pollution devices removed and have increased emissions. The EPA “certifies” only new or nearly new vehicles. They have no “in-use” testing of vehicles therefore they have no way of knowing if a vehicle is in violation of the clean air act. People that live in states that do Emission tests can test vehicles, if they are above the emission standards they are just repaired, they are not fined.
Even though there are tens of thousands of vehicles on the road that have emissions standards that are above a states specified limits why have CNG conversions been targeted for condemnation as excerpted above.
Don’t you think it’s possible that these individuals (businesses and lobbyists) have agendas? They do. EPA Certified Converters want the largest share of the market even though their systems limit them to a small percentage of the available market,
I have personally asked Marty Reineman the Alternative Fuel Representative for the EPA, on numerous occasions if any individuals have been prosecuted or fined for “illegal” CNG conversions. I was told no-one has been fined.
We need safe clean conversions, what we don’t need is fear-mongering or false statements that slow the spread of CNG conversions.