How to Convert Your Petrol Car to CNG Fuel?
CNG cars have gained popularity in India with a significant increase in fuel prices. Several car manufacturers also offer factory-fitted CNG kits with the vehicles. It is not only about cost; CNG is also an environment-friendly fuel as it produces fewer greenhouse gases as compared to conventional fuel. Therefore, CNG cars or converting petrol cars to CNG are the only feasible options in the current scenario where electric cars carry a premium price tag.
So what if you already own a car and are looking to switch to CNG fuel? The next big question is, can you convert a petrol car to CNG? The answer is YES, but the petrol to CNG conversion process is a bit complicated. One has to be careful while choosing the aftermarket CNG kit and during the kit's fitment. Let's look at the requirements and the process involved in converting a petrol car to a CNG car.
Pre-Requirements for Installation of CNG Kit
Here are the pre-requirements for the conversion of petrol cars to CNG cars.
Make sure your petrol car is compatible with the CNG kit.
Purchase a genuine CNG kit from an authorised dealer.
Ensure that all the equipment that is installed in your vehicle is brand new.
Hydro test the CNG tank for any leakage before it is fitted inside the car.
Installation of CNG
Once you have sorted the pre-requirements, the next step is to install the CNG kit in your car. It is a complicated process and should be done by a professional. It is not recommended to carry out the installation by yourself; if you do so, do it under an expert’s guidance. Below are the components required to convert a petrol car to a CNG car.
CNG filling valve
Selector switch (To switch between petrol and CNG)
After installing the components mentioned above, the process of petrol to CNG conversion is complete. But the job is only half done. After the installation, check the fuel lines for any leaks, check if there is any leakage in the pressure regulator, and ensure that all the components are correctly fitted/tightened. Once you complete the inspection, go ahead and start the engine. But remember to start the engine on the petrol mode and then switch to CNG fuel.
CNG in Vehicles
As mentioned earlier, several car manufacturers in India offer CNG variants of their popular models, and such cars are equipped with factory-fitted CNG kits. The second type of CNG equipment is the aftermarket or retrofitted CNG kits. You can purchase these kits from an authorized dealer. Below are the details of both the CNG kits.
Factory-fitted CNG Kit
It is fitted at the car manufacturer’s factory.
The CNG kit is specifically designed for a particular model and is not compatible with any other vehicle.
These CNG kits are safer than aftermarket ones but are on the expensive side.
The factory-fitted CNG kit does not impact your car's warranty as the car manufacturer provides it.
Aftermarket CNG Fuel Kit
The aftermarket kit is compatible with any car running on petrol.
These are universal kits and can be fitted as per the design of the vehicle.
Aftermarket CNG kits cost less than factory-fitted kits.
Retrofitting a CNG kit can void the warranty of the car.
These kits are less safer than factory-fitted kits.
CNG cars are greener, and the cost of running is low. But you have to maintain the CNG fuel system for the smooth functioning of the vehicle. So here are some tips to keep your CNG car in top-notch condition.
Use the correct grade of engine oil that is compatible with CNG fuel.
Carry out regular engine check up as the engine is prone to wear and tear using CNG fuel.
Do not push/over-rev the engine when running on CNG fuel. It is normal to expect a power reduction.
Usage of AC puts more load on the engine. So, CNG may affect the cooling system.
Check the fuel lines for any leakages at regular intervals.
Ensure all components are functioning correctly.
Things to Check Before CNG Conversion
Here are the points you should consider before deciding to convert your petrol car to a CNG car.
Compatibility: Check whether your car is compatible with the CNG fuel. Generally, older cars are not compatible with CNG kits.
Licencing: If your car is compatible with the CNG fuel system, the next thing you need to do is get approval from the government. You also need to change the fuel type in the Registration Certificate to use the CNG kit in your car. It is a time-consuming process. However, it is much easier to get approval if you fit the CNG kit in a brand new car.
Genuine CNG Kits: Purchase a branded CNG kit from an authorised dealer to ensure that the equipment is genuine. Avoid buying one from a local dealer.
Installation/Maintenance Cost: You will end up investing a significant amount of money if you choose to convert your petrol car to CNG. But the good news is, you can recover the cost in the long run due to the low running cost of the CNG car. However, CNG fuel may adversely affect the engine in the longer run, and the maintenance cost may increase.
Performance: You will experience a drop in power after switching to CNG fuel. Without proper maintenance, the engine life can reduce. So, engines running on CNG require proper maintenance.
Availability: CNG filling stations are not available at every location as petrol/diesel filling stations. You may have to account for this factor when going on a long drive and may need to carry a petrol can as a backup.
Insurance Premium Rate: If you decide to convert your petrol car to CNG fuel, the insurance premium will increase. The insurance premium is calculated based on several factors that also include fuel type. The maintenance cost of a CNG car is high. Hence, the car insurance premium increases. However, it is applicable only for the Comprehensive Car Insurance Plan.
Advantages of Using CNG
Here are the advantages of CNG fuel.
Eco-friendly: CNG is a green fuel as it produces less greenhouse emission gases than its conventional counterparts.
Low-running Cost: The cost of running a CNG car is low because the CNG costs less than petrol and diesel. The CNG fuel also excels when it comes to fuel economy.
Dual Fuel: The most significant advantage of a CNG car is that it can also run on petrol. So, if you cannot find a CNG filling station, you can easily manage my filling petrol.
Disadvantages of Petrol to CNG Conversion
Below are the disadvantages of a CNG car.
Limited Availability: One of the biggest cons of a CNG car is the limited availability of CNG refuelling stations. You can find CNG filling stations at select locations, whereas petrol/diesel refuel stations are located everywhere across the country.
Reduced Space: The CNG tank is usually fitted in the boot of the car. Hence, you have to compromise on the boot space to accommodate the CNG kit. The CNG fuel tank is also bulky, and it increases the kerb weight of your vehicle. The increased weight will impact the overall performance of the car.
Installation Cost: The aftermarket CNG conversion kits price is on the higher side, and hence, the initial investment is high. The factory-fitted CNG cars are also expensive when compared to their conventional counterparts.
Safety: CNG fuel is not as safe as petrol. Being a gaseous fuel, the risk of leakage is high, which may lead to an explosion.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about CNG cars.
Is converting my petrol car to a CNG car a good choice?
Yes, it is an excellent decision to convert a petrol car to run on CNG fuel as it emits less harmful exhausts and the cost of running is also low. However, the initial investment is high.
Are aftermarket CNG kits safe to use?
Yes, aftermarket CNG kits are safe, provided you purchase a branded kit from an authorised dealer. The safety of the kit also depends on the installation and maintenance.
How much does it cost to convert a petrol car to CNG?
The petrol to CNG conversion cost depends on the make/model you own. The cost also varies depending on the CNG kit and the components used in the installation process.
Does CNG fuel damage my car’s engine?
Yes, CNG fuel will have an adverse effect on your car’s engine in the longer run. As CNG is a gaseous fuel, it may damage the spark plugs and valves over a more extended period.