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Question about buying a New [Used] Truck! (this is a repair question)

Hey all! My old Audi A4 looks to be going south and I’ve opted to get a nice used truck to take its place. I found this pretty great deal on a 97 f-150, it looks great, low-ish miles, but the thing that really worries my wife is that this old truck was used on an Oil Field and it has a Propane conversion in it so that it can use both gas and propane as fuel. (I thought it was pretty cool, she, does not.)

Her father worked on an oil field and has some horror stories of “back in the day” (1997) where they had mishaps with these propane tanks in the back of these trucks. (gas leaking, trucks dying trying to use propane, no major explosions as far as I can recall :D)

Needless to say she wants them removed. I like the truck, but is it going to cost me an arm and a leg to remove these propane tanks and whatever they put on the engine for this conversion?

I asked my local mechanic and he says he’s never dealt with a conversion and has no idea. He said to check with a mechanic that deals with conversions. I’ve tried checking around for some places in my area (houston) that deal specifically with conversions and I’m having a hard time finding them.

All help is appreciated :slight_smile:

Just wanted to update on what I found just in case someone else may be looking into these kinds of … purchases.

From what I’m to understand from my extensive calling around and research, in these older cars with conversions in them, if you don’t plan on using the conversion, DON’T BUY THE CAR.

While this propane conversion could very well be the best thing since sliced bread, there are a lot of things that go into maintaining this kind of system, especially when purchasing from someone who isn’t too familiar with these types of conversions. Things like, simply switching between unleaded gas and propane could render the car inoperable if done whilst driving.

Just to get the car off the lot the tanks would need to be inspected, and before the use of the system it was said it wouldn’t be a bad idea for the valves to be cleaned.

Removal of the system isn’t TOO costly, however, I’ve been told removal would be a complete waste as these systems are very expensive to install, and although maintenance of them is costly, the benefits of running propane with gas prices the way they are currently could essentially pay for itself in time, and it is much less wear on the engine to run propane (although with a slight decrease to performance and MPG).

All that being said another issue I personally ran into is… there are a lot of mechanics around me that just don’t know enough about working on the older conversion models and are more used to some of the newer LPG models. Out of all the mechanics I called today I could only find one who was somewhat versed in these older conversions, and he wasn’t the kinda guy you have a long chat on the phone with about “should I buy this car?” He just wanted me to bring it to him so he could look it over and charge me for it :slight_smile: understandable I suppose.

SO with that in mind, my final conclusion was (put in laymans terms for the average Joe Buyer with limited knowledge of conversions - a la Me): On these older models where you don’t have a strict history of what needs to be done, expect (after purchasing one of these) to likely spend between 150 - 300 on getting the car inspected by someone who knows what they’re doing (including the tanks). Then consider that a repair to the propane system when dealing with the valves specifically (or the inherent systems therein) you should have 1500 - 3K on hand just in case. While you’re at it, you might as well throw in a backup car, just in case both the propane and unleaded gas systems for some reason won’t start or run your car. And lastly, once you’ve done all this and finally got the car up and running properly (or as proper as it can be) switch off the car before flipping that propane switch, then start it back up, and benefit from having a bi-fuel system.

I can see why your wife wouldn’t want the LP tanks around or in the garage but after all, fork lifts do just fine on LP. I don’t see why you can just pull the tanks and not use LP.

F150s are a dime a dozen, just buy a nice one that some old man doesn’t need anymore, forget this complicated LP nonsense. You’ll be happier in the long run.

I agree with nerdnic on this one.

The wife is part of this decision. If she’s uncomfortable with the vehicle, that leaves you in the position of either buying a truck that you know you’ll immediately have to have significant work done on or continuing to look. Even unconverted used vehicles often are discovered to need some things done to them. You’re just adding to that problem. If you do this, spend the money to do the conversion, and then discover other probems, you may live to regret this purchase. And you wife would be perfectly within her rights to remind you of your goof every time you make a major purchase. After all, she needs to feel good about this purchase too.

Never buy a modified vehicle. They can be difficult to repair and these systems were not the original engineered intent. A 97 Truck already has a strike against it in age, average truck life is 14 years.

I live in the middle of the OK oil patch and trust me, you do NOT want to buy an ex-oil field anything propane or not.

If it’s scrap metal cheap enough then maybe. What are they wanting for this creampuff?