Propane and LPG Conversion Kits for Automobiles

The pros and cons of converting your car from gasoline to propane fuel

LPG refueling

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With the price of gasoline constantly fluctuating, people are seriously considering alternative forms of fuel. As a result, propane car conversions (also called LPG conversions) are attracting increased attention. Propane is certainly a viable alternative fuel option. In fact, it's been used as a commercial motor fuel for more than 80 years. While the cost per liter/gallon is higher, propane is actually less expensive to use than gasoline.

Why It Can Be Tough to Convert to Propane

The Environmental Protection Agency requires that all vehicles meet the same emission standards. Even though propane-powered engines offer cleaner emissions—along with 10 to 15% less carbon dioxide, 20% less carbon monoxide, and 50 to 60% fewer hydrocarbons and nitric oxide—tighter U.S. emissions regulations have changed the way conversion companies can do business.

While propane burns cleaner than gasoline, stricter EPA regulations have led to a shortage of propane conversion kits for U.S. street passenger vehicles. Due to less stringent regulations and higher gasoline (petrol) prices abroad, propane is a much more popular fuel choice in Europe and other countries than it is in America.

While generic propane conversions used to be a common task for trained mechanics (although generally not something recommended for the average DIY home-garage-based grease monkey), most four-stroke carbureted or fuel-injected engines can still be converted to operate on propane when a certified technician installs the correct kit. Once the conversion has been made, due to propane’s minimal sooting (thanks to its low carbon content) the bonuses include increased engine life, fewer oil changes, and longer spark plug life for your car.

Other Conversion Considerations

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. This is where you really have to do your homework in advance. While propane is available from numerous distributors ranging from campgrounds to your local supermarket, you need to find a filling station that's actually equipped with an appropriate nozzle to fit a standard gas tank. While they are out there, they tend to be few and far between.

Also relatively scarce are U.S. propane conversion companies with an online presence that sell street-ready passenger car kits or do conversions. While some have websites, many don’t. Experts caution that buying on eBay should be limited to those who are well versed in this type of equipment.

Prices for a full conversion by a qualified technician can range from $3,000 to $5,000 (although the cost can go up to as much as $10,000 for some luxury vehicles). 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, these 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. Options are limited but there are links to find kits for your personal car, fleet vehicles, or off-road and agricultural equipment.
  • TECHNOCARB is a manufacturer of a variety of conversion kits.