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Older, carbureted cars and trucks are prime candidates for DIY (Do It Yourself) automobile propane conversions because they are the biggest environmental polluters. Newer vehicles employing EFI (Electronic Fuel Injection) can be converted too, but the cost of the conversion is greater. Converting an internal combustion engine from running on gasoline to running on propane gas is a relatively simple project for any shade tree mechanic with moderate skills. However, before we get into the details of this project, I want to spend a moment or two discussing why it is a good idea to undertake such a conversion. LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) AKA Propane, contains no lead, sulfur, carbon, or gum, so it produces no byproducts that pollute the air we breathe and causes no damage to the engine. Although mileage and performance remains about the same, the cost of LPG is about 15 percent less than that of regular unleaded gasoline. At first glance, that 15 percent may not appear a significant savings, but with the price of a gallon of gas today that 15 percent will soon pay for the cost of the conversion.
There are actually two approaches to doing automobile propane conversions. The first approach involves designing and installing the system from scratch. When people first started converting their vehicles to run on propane that was the only approach available to them and many DIYers still take that approach but it is an approach prone to mistakes. The second approach is the sure approach. This approach begins with the purchase of a conversion kit designed specifically for your vehicle. The cost of these kits make the conversion more expensive but the optimum performances derived from them make the extra expense worthwhile.
Kits for automobile propane conversions contain all the necessary components to complete the conversion successfully. They come with a DOT (Department of Transportation) approved fuel tank, all the necessary hoses and fittings, filters, shut off solenoid, converter, throttle plate adapters, etc. A conversion kit designed for your specific vehicle and engine will last 15 to 30 years and most reputable suppliers of these kits offer a warranty that reflects this fact. Besides containing all the needed components, each kit comes with detailed instructions on how to do the conversion and how to retune your engine for optimum performance.
As with all good things, there is a negative aspect to automobile propane conversions. Refueling is a bit more complicated then pulling up to the self-service pump at a convenient service station. Maybe someday there will be self-service propane stations but today you have to go to a propane supplier and have them refill your tank. It also less convenient because most LPG refill stations are not open 24-hours a day so one has to plan their refueling stops better. Nevertheless, the positive aspects of the conversions outweigh the negative.