Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Charles asks: In 2007 I bought my third Jeep; I have two CJ5s and an Unlimited in 2007… close to 1 million miles accrued on them. My son owns natural gas land. In 2007 I wrote you to find a facility to convert the new Jeep at a “reasonable cost.” I did find a “gov’t approved” conversion station which quoted 6 to 9 months and 25k. I kept looking and have come up with nothing. Any suggestions? Stupid gov’t.
My reply: The conversion isn’t necessarily difficult or expensive – if the underlying vehicle (engine) isn’t complex. I converted my generator to operate dual fuel, gasoline and propane. Easy – and cheap. But its carbureted engine is very simple.
It was literally a bolt-on conversion that took less than an hour.
It is much more involved to convert a current/recent vehicle’s engine (especially if direct injected) to CNG and may even be technically illegal – considered “tampering” with the factory emissions system, which includes the fuel delivery system. Whether the conversion actually decreases emissions is irrelevant to the bureaucrats. The “modified” vehicle may not pass state smog tests, even though it emits less smog-forming compounds.
My recommendation is to find a vehicle that was built to dual-fuel (gas and CNG) from the factory; Ford and GM and Honda have all offered them. Honda, most recently. The cost will be reasonable, because you’re paying for a car that’s already had the work done; it’s analogous to buying a restored classic car vs. the cost of restoring a classic car.
It is almost always cheaper to buy the already-restored car.
I agree with you, obviously, that CNG is superb fuel – because it’s very inexpensive and very clean and very practical. It is certainly superior to battery-powered cars – because CNG cars aren’t gimped by short range and lengthy recharge times. Those which are due-fuel can operate the same as any gasoline-only car, with the added capability of switching to CNG at will.
It’s a shame that such viable alternatives are dismissed – while alternatives which are guaranteed to make cars more expensive and much less “mobile” are being crammed down our throats.
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