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CNG/Gasoline Bi-Fuel Vehicle Conversion FAQ

What impact will converting my vehicle have on the original warranty?
Generally, installing aftermarket parts on a vehicle does not affect the original equipment (vehicle) manufacturer's warranty. This is the case when having an aftermarket CNG conversion kit installed on your vehicle. According to the "Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975", a manufacturer cannot void the warranty just because of a vehicle's aftermarket parts. If a transmission fails under warranty and the vehicle has a CNG conversion system, then the transmission is still under warranty. This act goes on to clarify that the burden of proof is with the manufacturer or dealer if there is a disagreement over what caused the failure. For further guidance see Federal Trade Commission or Environmental Protection Agency

Natural gas as a vehicle fuel - is this new technology?
Natural gas engines were being built during the late 1800's, years before they built the first gasoline engine.

Exactly what is CNG?
CNG is natural gas pressurized (compressed) to 3600PSI. Natural gas is the same as methane gas which is given off when any type of once living organic matter decays.

What are the advantages of natural gas as automotive fuel?

  • The price of CNG is much less than the price of gasoline or diesel in terms of direct cost. In most areas of the country it is less than the price of gasoline.
  • The vehicle owner saves a lot more because the CNG extends the life of the engine. The use of CNG equates to lower maintenance costs because less oil and spark plug changes are required along with the need for tune-ups of the engine.
  • CNG does not contaminate or dilute the engines crank case lubricating oil.
  • Pipes and mufflers last longer because CNG does not react with the metals.
  • For the next century the United States will be a major natural gas producer in the world and has one of the largest pipeline networks. 98% of the natural gas sold in the USA is produced in North America. This helps reduce our nation's dependence on foreign oil.
  • CNG is a much cleaner fuel than gasoline or diesel which can significantly improve environmental conditions by reducing the air pollution not only in America but also worldwide. Vehicles running on CNG produce less CO, CO2, NOX and other emissions. According to the EPA vehicles fueled by CNG produce 30 to 40% less green house gas emissions.

What types of CNG vehicle kits are available?
EPA Certified EPA: These kits are for vehicles that are new to 2 years old. Ex: Present year 2013 - vehicles with a manufactured year of 2012, 2013 and 2014 must be converted with a certified kit. Certified kits can also be installed on Intermediate Aged vehicles.
EPA Compliant/Intermediate Aged: These kits are for vehicles that are more 2 years old from the vehicles actual manufactured year. Ex: Present year 2013 - a 2011 or older vehicle would be acceptable for an Intermediate Kit.

Can my engine run on both CNG and gasoline?
Yes - but not at the same time. You can run on one type of fuel at a time and change the fuel you are using with a button on the dash near the stirring wheel.

How many miles can I travel on a tank full of CNG?
This would depend on the CNG tank size that is selected for your vehicle conversion.

How do I refuel my vehicle with CNG?
You can fuel your vehicle at a CNG public fueling station. If you have natural gas service piping to your home or business a CNG fueling appliance can be installed on your property that will be sized to meet your home or business fueling demands. K.C. Larson, Inc. can provide consulting, design, installation and yearly support for home and business CNG refueling equipment.

If my vehicle runs out of CNG while I'm driving - what should I do?
When the CNG storage tank becomes low on pressure the engine will automatically switch to gasoline. Normally the driver will not notice a change in engine operation when this takes place.

How does a CNG system work in your vehicle?
Every CNG system has 3 sub-systems:

  • CNG Storage: Consists of at least one high pressure cylinder that is certified to be pressurized to 3600 PSI. A high pressure safety release valve is installed on the cylinder.
  • Pressure Regulator: This system component reduces the gas pressure from 3,600 PSI to approximately 15 PSI. After the gas passes through the regulator the injectors supply natural gas to the engine.
  • Electronic Components: This system allows the CNG system to reproduce the gasoline performance.

How safe is CNG when used as a fuel for vehicles on the road?

  • Natural Gas is much lighter than air, so it rises into the atmosphere rapidly if it is released due to an accident. In the same type of accident, gasoline vapor is heavier than air which then pools at ground level creating a fire risk.
  • Natural gas has a high ignition temperature at approximately 1,200° Fahrenheit, compared with approximately 600° Fahrenheit for gasoline. It also has a narrow range of flammability, that is, in concentrations in air below about 5% and above about 15%, natural gas will not burn. The high ignition temperature and limited flammability range make accidental ignition or combustion of natural gas unlikely.
  • Compressed natural gas is stored on board vehicles in tanks that meet stringent safety requirements. The fuel storage cylinders used in CNG vehicles are much stronger than gasoline fuel tanks. The design of natural gas cylinders is subjected to a number of federally required "severe abuse" tests, such as heat and pressure extremes, gunfire, collisions and fires. Natural gas fuel systems are "sealed," which prevents spills or evaporative losses. Even if a leak were to occur in a fuel system, the natural gas would dissipate up into the atmosphere. It's unlike gasoline, which in the event of a leak or accident, gasoline liquid and vapor pools on the ground, creating a fire hazard.

Will CNG harm my engine in any way?
Use of CNG serves to extend life of lubricating oil as CNG will not contaminate or dilute crankcase oil. Fouling of plugs is eliminated and plug life is enhanced as CNG does not contain any lead. CNG enters the engine as gas while gasoline and diesel come in as spray or mist which washes down the lubricating oil from the piston ring area to raise the rate of engine depreciation. This reduces maintenance costs and engine life increases. Natural gas is not toxic or corrosive.

Why are exhaust gases literally non-existent in CNG vehicles?
A major positive aspect of CNG use is that being a natural gas (methane) its exhaust emissions contains just water vapor, no carbon or other particles and a small quantity of carbon monoxide. Being virtually pollution free CNG driven vehicles meet the most stringent of emission standards worldwide.

How does a CNG/gasoline bi-fuel vehicle compare to a standard gasoline powered one in regards to performance parameters?
Easy starts, steady idling and smooth acceleration are virtues of CNG run vehicles. Power loss of 5-15% means that acceleration is slower, which can be negated with fine tuning of the CNG kit, by advancing spark timing to derive benefit of its high octane rating. Natural gas has a 130 octane rating, compared to 87 to 96 octane rating of gasoline.

Are CNG cylinders safe in vehicle accidents?
A pressurized gas cylinder is probably the strongest component on the vehicle. Vehicles that are totally destroyed in collisions show the only discernible component being the intact gas cylinder. It is unlikely that cylinders will rupture due to a collision impact. A CNG storage cylinder is many times stronger than a standard gasoline or diesel tank installed in a vehicle.

Are vehicle maintenance needs different with CNG?
Natural gas engines work essentially the same way as gasoline engines. An air-fuel mixture is injected into the intake manifold, drawn into the combustion chamber, and then ignited by a spark plug. Most engine service requirements are very similar and can be handled by a dealer, automotive shop, or trained mechanic. If there is a retrofit repair needed, such as a faulty injector or loose compression fittings, these should be taken care of by the installer.