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With the price of fuel, propane car conversions (also called LPG conversions) are attracting more attention. Propane is certainly one viable alternative fuel option: it has been used as a commercial motor fuel for more than 80 years and millions of miles. It's also less expensive to use than gasoline, even though the cost per liter is higher.
Why It Can Be Tough to Convert to Propane
The Environmental Protection Agency requires all vehicles to meet the same emission standards. While propane burns cleaner than gasoline, increased regulations from the EPA, means that there are very few propane conversion kits for U.S. street passenger vehicles available today. It has actually been a much more popular choice in Europe and other countries due to less stringent regulations and higher petrol prices. Even though propane powered engines offer cleaner emissions along with 10 to 15 percent less carbon dioxide, 20 percent less carbon monoxide and 50 to 60 percent fewer hydrocarbons and nitric oxide, tighter emissions regulations have changed the way conversion companies can do business.
While generic propane conversions used to be common fare for a trained mechanic (generally not for the DIY-er, though), most four-stroke engines (carbureted and fuel-injected) can still be converted to operate on propane when a certified technician installs the correct kit. And propane's minimal sooting, owing to its low carbon content, means increased engine life, fewer oil changes, and longer spark plug life.
Why Conversion May Still Be a Good Idea
Although it may take some legwork on your part, it can be worth converting to propane if you have a propane filling station in your area that makes fueling up easily accessible and less expensive. Unfortunately, there are relatively few U.S. propane conversion companies with an online presence that sell street-ready passenger car kits or do conversions (some have websites, many don't). Prices for a full conversion by a qualified technician can range from $3,000 to $4,000. Hopefully, you'll be close to one of the shops that are on RASO Enterprises' extensive shop list (below), and they can help you go from there.
Where to Find Conversion Kits
Because of the scarcity of conversion companies, it's unlikely that you'll find one in your backyard. That said, however, these two companies may be able to provide you with what you need at a reasonable cost.
- Got Propane? Based in Tempe, AZ, the eye-catching off-roading photos on this company's website showcase propane's ability to operate at any angle with no loss of power or fuel spillage. *Note: These kits are only for off-road vehicles, and this company does not sell kits for late model cars and trucks (1987 and newer).
- RASO Enterprises In addition to selling kits, this company provides a wealth of information to help you find a certified conversion shop in the United States or Canadian conversion center. Most of these shops specialize in heavy duty/commercial vehicles with minimal offerings for passenger cars. There are links to find kits for your personal car fleet vehicles, (options are limited) or off-road and agricultural equipment. This site also refers to TECHNOCARB, the manufacturer of many different conversion kits.