CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Converting to natural gas

Hey:

I’m switching from an oil furnace to gas. Can they also install a fixture so that I can fuel my car? I’ll convert that to gas too. If it is too dangerous to have a dipstick like me refueling a vehicle, can they train technicians to do it and I’ll e-mail them to come fill it up? I’ll pay by the visit or maybe they can offer an yearly unlimited-visit service contract.

Sincerely,

Prof. Flatulence

Why do you want to convert? Are you willing to take detours around tunnels etc.?

I can’t see any advantage for most drivers. Have you considered propane?

It looks like In home CNG pumps maybe available, but the draw back on them is it may take several hours to fill the cars tank up, kind of like charging a electric car. This is because the pump is very small, and does not have a storage tank, so the little pump has to compress the gas directly into the cars tank. The good news is you could still take the car to a CNG gas station and fill the car up as quickly as a regular gas car if needed. Here is a link I found on one http://www.cngnow.com/vehicles/refueling/pages/refueling-at-home.aspx

Are you willing to take detours around tunnels etc.

I’m pretty sure there are no restrictions. Only if you’re hauling it.

Have you considered propane?

If you have natural gas to your house why would you possibly consider propane??? Makes no sense to me.

Personally I wouldn’t do either. It’s great if the vehicle is designed at the factory to run on propane or NG. But to convert over…expect much worse gas mileage…and much worse performance (20% or higher). The advantage is much cleaner emissions and longer oil change intervals.

The system has to support the fuel in your area. If it’s such an inconvenience, it may not be worth the effort. You can buy your own support system, but like an EV, you need to be real careful where you travel. I, like others feel it’s not ready for prime time. I really like gas and propane for generators, cooking, heating and anything else that tends to remain in one area or used around enclosures. That’s not cars, yet. I would not indulge unless you can afford the " experimentation" costs.

I’m converting over to two propane generators, as it’s a no brainer for that use where I live. We loose power a lot and I’m tired of draining out the ethanol laced gasoline that’s a storage problem maker. Ethanol is a hidden incentive to use natural gas and propane in as many appliances as possible.

It’s VERY expensive/difficult to convert a vehicle to CNG (natural gas). Converting to propane is much more straightforward, but still expensive, and doesn’t have anything to do with your house conversion.

Have you looked into CNG conversion? What is you make/model/year?

Depending upon your vehicle, it may take 100,000 miles to pay for the upfront investment. Is it worth it? Denver’s 16th mall buses are CNG/hybrids as are some UPS and FedEx vehicles. They come that way from the factory and are driven enough to shorten the payback period. For most regular car drivers, it’s not worth it.

Honda sales a CNG Civic no modifications needed for $26.000 http://automobiles.honda.com/civic-natural-gas/?ef_id=ULzSlQAADdx7ZH9v:20121203162557:s

Converting a modern fuel injected car to run on CNG is “Mission Impossible”…If you want a CNG powered car, buy one that is factory made…It will be cheaper in the end…

Converting a modern fuel injected car to run on CNG is "Mission Impossible"

Years ago there were conversion kits for Carburated cars. And they were not that expensive. But computer controlled fuel injection could be a nightmare and very expensive.

So you have a CNG powered car. Where are you going to refuel it when you travel and are you willing to invest in the expensive equipment to fuel it at home ? City bus will work well because A, it returns to the garage where expensive tax payer equipment can refuel it quickly and B, it doesn’t travel too far away from the garage.

In essence you have a single use vehicle. No long trips and lots of refueling time. Sounds like an EV to me and a Prius sounds like a better “investment” if that’s what you want to call it.

@MikeInNH…“Years ago there were conversion kits for Carburated cars.”

Mike, my Yamaha generator has a conversion kit to LP or CNG. You drill a hole down through the carb and thread a tube in with a regulator on the end. I doubt that a fuel injection system replacement would lend itself to such easy procedures. Granted, this generator is is a single cylinder but the same comparison can be made for cars too. Wouldn’t all those emission control sensors have somkething to say about it too ?..And don’t forget HAL, the car’s computer.

IIRC, there was an article about a Chesapeake Energy Corp. executive that converted his Yukon to run on natural gas. I believe the cost was something like $9000.

Besides the Civic, I think there’s a Ram (Dodge) pickup that can be gotten from the factory with CNG.

I’ve driven and sold natural gas vehicles for the last five years. For years I drove a retired CNG-powered Crown Vic police cruiser as my commuter car. At 63 cents to 1.50 per gasoline equivalent gallon, I’ve saved thousands in fuel costs while having a cleaner engine. You do not have to fill at home, but with the proper compressor, you can. My current vehicle is an F150 that can run on either gasoline or NG. It will tow a boat and get the equivalent of 45 mpg when compared to current gasoline costs. However, I’ve always bought vehicles that currently run on NG. Good conversion can be done only by properly trained techs that install EPA approved equipment. Other than replacing tanks and planning out trips in which you want to run exclusively on CNG, there aren’t too many disadvantages from my viewpoint.

CNG or LPG is basically the same. The nut jobs whining about tunnels and bridges do not understand the law. The conversion cost is remarkably the same between the two fuels as the tanks cost just as much either way. The cost is in the fuel system. All modern cars are multipoint fuel injected. These injectors do not do gas as in non liquid. Yes it can convert and it will be available soon at a better cost. But not yet. Truck fleets are converting now. The car packages are around but no one has certified them yet. They need epa and dot certs. A private individual will find that there are holes in the epa and dot certification process that allows this modification. As to those who complain about milage, what are you comparing to? Gallon for gallon? Makes no sense. Its like comparing how much it takes to get drunk. Fewer liters for whiskey than beer that I know.

You guys do realize that someone named “Prof. Flatulence” and who is claming they’re going to email fueling technicians to come to their house every few days to gas up their car, is probably trolling you, right?

I have a work truck, cng capable, unfortunately only one place in the county to fill my tank, was thinking of a conversion, a few years ago $3500 from these guys. It gets complicated fast as to who can get approval It still might make sense. Evidently bought out and focusing on deisel trucks, might be worth a call
http://www.americandieselsystems.com/

@jptkim,
I thought there were a few out there. It is cool to hear from an owner. Really a small group. Thanks for your post.

you used to see Navy vehicles running CNG here and there and the gas companies run a lot of propane powered trucks(forklifts for warehouses,powered floor scrubbers etc) out west the farmers with gas wells would run NG in thier tractors and so on.Due to its storage advantages,if I get a generator it will be propane powered(the natural gas “Cat” engines use a small amount of Diesel to get the engine to fire)-Kevin

The truck fleet is going to change from #2 fuel oil to LNG…But existing vehicles won’t be modified to run on natural gas…They will be built from the ground up to run on natural gas…The same thing goes for consumer vehicles…“Converting” a modern gasoline powered car to run on CNG is really not an option…Sure, it can be done if you have enough money, anything can be done…