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Old 1st August 2013, 21:45   #1
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Default Converted my Chevrolet Spark to CNG!

The rising petrol prices and my Spark's mileage of 10 kmpl was surely burning a hole in my pocket.
In the past 6 months I had driven only 2000km because I had some knee injuries but now my running has increased to 45-50 kms daily and slightly more on weekends.
Therefore we decided to either buy a pre-worshipped petrol sedan like the Linea or SX4 and convert that to CNG or convert the Spark itself.

The hunt for the used car began. I shortlisted a couple of SX4s, Puntos and a Linea. I like the All New Honda City but it was above my budget.

So I went to test drive the above mentioned cars but the Linea was in pretty terrible shape and the SX4 was just ok-ok. The Punto which I liked got sold.
There were good condition Fiestas available for less than 3 lacs but I've read on the forum itself that it is not advisable to convert Ford cars to CNG.

After checking out some more cars at other dealers I realized that all the cars I drove had some shortcomings. Some were vibrating a lot, some were rattling a lot, cars with fried clutches, poor suspension and so on.

After driving these I started liking my Spark even more. The car is just too silent and too smooth. I thought for a day and then decided to convert this to CNG itself.

I searched the forum but could find only a couple of experiences of BHPians who converted their Spark to CNG. That's why I decided to start a new thread for the benefit of others instead of just posting my ownership thread because this would get more visibility.

I had read frankmehta's thread in the directory recommending Suraj Autogas. I was planning to get it done from there only but then a relative of mine who has converted a couple of his cars to CNG recommended Zero Pollution to me. It is located near Poinsur Gymkhana at Kandivali and is just 0.5km from my place. So I decided to get it done from here.

I spoke to the owner of the garage and he recommended me to go for a closed loop kit. He had converted another Spark to CNG that day so he offered me a test drive of that car. I took that car for a spin and honestly I could hardly feel any power loss. Since it was already 8pm I decided to give him my car the next day.

Next day around 3pm I dropped off my car to his garage. He quoted 34k for a closed loop Lovatek kit. The 34k also included RTO charges and VAT.

The car was ready by 7:30pm and I took it to fill up gas. My car was running fine on petrol but after switching to CNG mode the engine would stall. The mechanic rechecked all the connections and after fixing some wires all was well.

Driving Experience -

After the issue was sorted I drove for a couple of kms and trust me there was no power loss at all. The car was chugging along perfectly fine in 1st, 2nd and 3rd gears.
Today morning I did a cold start and the engine started fine directly on CNG mode. Since the roads were relatively empty on my way to college at 6:30 am I could drive the car at various speeds and rpms in all gears to check the performance.

As I said earlier the performance in 1st, 2nd and 3rd gears was feeling the same as petrol. Earlier in 4th gear the car could pull cleanly from 40kmph but now I could feel a slight hesitation at this speed. This stays till around 50kmph and after that the acceleration is again good.

While returning I used the Western Express Highway and since it was raining + afternoon I kept the AC at blower speed 2.
When my car was on petrol I would slot into 5th gear around 50 kmph and the car would pull properly. But now the engine takes its own sweet time to accelerate from 50 to 60 in 5th gear. Again after 60-65 the petrol-like acceleration is back.
I drove till 80 kmph and couldn't notice any other problems.

Also it seems the performance near the redline has taken a very slight hit.
I used to go till more than 60 kmph in 2nd and now on CNG I could reach max 50 kmph in 2nd with AC on. With AC off I could easily do more than 60.

Did this slight loss of power delivery really affect my driving today? Well to be honest, not at all.

I had anticipated a 10% power loss when I got the conversion done and trust me the car didn't let me down.

The car is still running on the stock spark plugs and I didn't need to change them.

The cylinder which I got has 65 kgs of water capacity which means I can fill in 8-10kgs of gas depending on the pressure at the pump. I filled the tank yesterday night and it cost me around 300 bucks. Had to wait around 15 mins at the pump.

I'll go for a longish drive this weekend and try to calculate the approximate running costs and post here.

Now I have some questions :

1) The owner of the garage says that the Andheri RTO is shut for some days so my car's inspection will be carried out only after a couple of weeks. He also said I'll have to inform the insurance guys only after the RTO work is done. Is it ok to drive around without the RTO endorsement done for some days?

2) Do I need to run the car on petrol occasionally? Maybe a couple of kms everyday?

If you guys have any questions then do ask me. I'll click some pics tomorrow morning and post them here.

My car's ownership review is HERE - (Got my *pre-worshipped* Chevy Spark LS from Maruti True Value!)
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Old 2nd August 2013, 01:46   #2
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Default re: Converted my Chevrolet Spark to CNG!

Hi StrangeWizard,

Thanks for sharing your experience. Sounds like there wasn't much of a trade-off!

On the other end of the Spark-spectrum, there's this thread (Building a Harder, Better, Faster Chevy Spark | Includes Automech FFE Review)

cya
R
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Old 2nd August 2013, 08:40   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StrangeWizard View Post
1) The owner of the garage says that the Andheri RTO is shut for some days so my car's inspection will be carried out only after a couple of weeks. He also said I'll have to inform the insurance guys only after the RTO work is done. Is it ok to drive around without the RTO endorsement done for some days?

2) Do I need to run the car on petrol occasionally? Maybe a couple of kms everyday?
@Strangewizard

Congratulations on the make over, CNG does make sense for the city driving. Would like to know more about the kit particularly about the mods in the engine area and the space occupied by the cylinder. Pics will be helpful too.

Regarding your queries
1) I would suggest to drop in a word to Insurance people so that they know the changes. IMO you should start driving after you have submitted the forms to RTO and got the receipt.
2) Once a week running the car on petrol would be sufficient.
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Old 2nd August 2013, 10:07   #4
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Default re: Converted my Chevrolet Spark to CNG!

Strngewizard - I'm running my Zen on CNG since past 2.5 years. Got it done from Greenglobe, Mulund.

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/long-t...ms-review.html (CNG'ed my 2002 ZEN MPFI : 1500 km's review)

as far as running on petrol is concerned, please ensure that daily while starting the car, please start it on petrol only mode and let the engine warm up on Petrol.

Try to use 5w-30 or 5w-40 engine oils only.

Following the above will ensure that engine is not harmed by the higher ignition temperatures.

If you're running on Fully Synthetic oil, the change interval on CNG will be around 15k kms.

Please ensure that you keep getting the air filter cleaned on a regular basis.

Switching to ngk spark plugs the next time you change the plugs should be good.


-Yogesh.
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Old 2nd August 2013, 12:52   #5
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Default re: Converted my Chevrolet Spark to CNG!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ghodlur View Post
@Strangewizard

Congratulations on the make over, CNG does make sense for the city driving. Would like to know more about the kit particularly about the mods in the engine area and the space occupied by the cylinder. Pics will be helpful too.

Regarding your queries
1) I would suggest to drop in a word to Insurance people so that they know the changes. IMO you should start driving after you have submitted the forms to RTO and got the receipt.
2) Once a week running the car on petrol would be sufficient.
Thanks for the tips ghodlur. I will call up the insurance guys today and tell them about the changes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by yogeshnagpal View Post
Strngewizard - I'm running my Zen on CNG since past 2.5 years. Got it done from Greenglobe, Mulund.


-Yogesh.
Thanks for the tips Yogesh. Yes today I did run the car on petrol for a couple of kms till it warmed up. Btw the name of the owner of the garage where I got the conversion done is also Yogesh Nagpal

Guys,
Just completed 100 kms on CNG today. The fuel indicator still shows 2 lights which means I should be able to squeeze out another 40-50 kms before the tank empties. After that I'll update the running costs. I'll have to figure out how to calculate the running costs depending on the pressure at the pump.

I drove in bumper to bumper traffic for a couple of kms and didn't face any issues. However performance near the redline has surely taken a small hit. I found an empty stretch and tried to redline in 1st and 2nd but in 1st gear the power gets cutoff after 25-30 kmph and you have to shift to 2nd.
This wont affect me really but I just thought of sharing.

I also got the gas coupon right now which is valid till 21/8 after that I'll get the CNG plate.
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Old 2nd August 2013, 13:16   #6
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Default re: Converted my Chevrolet Spark to CNG!

Quote:
Originally Posted by StrangeWizard View Post
Guys,
Just completed 100 kms on CNG today. The fuel indicator still shows 2 lights which means I should be able to squeeze out another 40-50 kms before the tank empties. After that I'll update the running costs. I'll have to figure out how to calculate the running costs depending on the pressure at the pump.
After filling about 8-9 kgs in a full tank, I can do 160-180 kms with ac in city.

If I do Mum-Pun, Mum-Nasik etc, I get much more.


-Yogesh.
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Old 3rd August 2013, 11:26   #7
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Default re: Converted my Chevrolet Spark to CNG!

Filled up the tank just now. It was a long 40 min wait.

6.43 kgs of gas went in since I already had some amount left. Paid total 232 bucks
Odo at 107 kms. Roughly a cost of 2.30 rs per km. I know this is not 100 percent accurate.
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Old 3rd August 2013, 11:43   #8
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Default re: Converted my Chevrolet Spark to CNG!

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Originally Posted by StrangeWizard View Post
Filled up the tank just now. It was a long 40 min wait.

6.43 kgs of gas went in since I already had some amount left. Paid total 232 bucks
Odo at 107 kms. Roughly a cost of 2.30 rs per km. I know this is not 100 percent accurate.
107Kms at Rs.232! It would have cost me anything north of 600 bucks.
I too am thinking of taking the plunge now, but still worried about the 'after-market' fitment.

Do you feel that the cylinder rattles a bit? I did drive a cousins SX4 and thought that there was some noise from the rear. Maybe it was just because I was driving the car after a while.

Some pics of the boot space would do great. Also, how do you manage to get the spare out when needed?
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Old 3rd August 2013, 13:15   #9
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Originally Posted by carzone View Post
107Kms at Rs.232! It would have cost me anything north of 600 bucks.
I too am thinking of taking the plunge now, but still worried about the 'after-market' fitment.

Do you feel that the cylinder rattles a bit? I did drive a cousins SX4 and thought that there was some noise from the rear. Maybe it was just because I was driving the car after a while.

Some pics of the boot space would do great. Also, how do you manage to get the spare out when needed?
Hi carzone,

Yours is still a new car right? Do It only after the warranty is over. I would suggest you to go for a sequential kit because the k series engines are a bit tricky to tweak.
The company fitted kit which comes on the WagonR is also a sequential one. My cousin just bought one.

The cylinder doesn't rattle but I can hear some noise from the parcel shelf because it doesn't sit in its original position now due to the cylinder, so it sits a bit higher and rests on the tank.

Will post pics today or tomorrow.

To pull out the spare wheel, I'll need to fold the rear seat and then take the wheel out. The boot is to small so there was no space to place the wheel in standing position between the hatch and cylinder.
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Old 3rd August 2013, 14:36   #10
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Default re: Converted my Chevrolet Spark to CNG!

Congrats on CNG'ing your Spark StrangeWizard!! CNG is the the best option to beat the current fuel prices. And its best to do it on an old 2nd hand car - since it has already lost its value in depreciation, lost a lot of its engine power etc - adding CNG is not going to make a huge difference.

I am sure after fitting the CNG, you would use your car more often - since you do not have to bother about petrol prices. However whenever you drive, make sure you drive atleast a km or 2 in petrol and then switch over to CNG.

The mileage you are getting is very low - you should be getting a range of atleast 130 kms with 6.43 kgs. But agin, it all depends on the driving style, the traffic conditions - and moreover you have just fitted it. So the mileage may increase after a few runs. And yes, do take it for long weekend drives - it wont cost you a bomb. Our Baleno did a Mumbai-Panvel-Mumbai on one tank of gas - with the last orange bar still remaining.

Congrats again and enjoy covering many more miles with very less cost. You are soon gonna forget where your fuel pump switch is since you will always be reaching out for the bonnet lid
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Old 3rd August 2013, 15:42   #11
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Default re: Converted my Chevrolet Spark to CNG!

Quote:
Originally Posted by StrangeWizard View Post
Hi carzone,

Yours is still a new car right? Do It only after the warranty is over. I would suggest you to go for a sequential kit because the k series engines are a bit tricky to tweak.
The company fitted kit which comes on the WagonR is also a sequential one. My cousin just bought one.
My car is 2.5years new. Warranty still lasts for 1.5 years. I am aware that installing CNG does void warranty. Had enquired at Sai Service(MASS) about CNG fitment and they had quoted some 50k for the best kit available. Sequential I suppose. Best part, Warranty does not get void. I never saw any car undergoing conversion in a MASS, so I wonder do they also give cars outside for the conversion.

Quote:
The cylinder doesn't rattle but I can hear some noise from the parcel shelf because it doesn't sit in its original position now due to the cylinder, so it sits a bit higher and rests on the tank.
Try using 2 sided tape and stick it somewhere.

Quote:
To pull out the spare wheel, I'll need to fold the rear seat and then take the wheel out. The boot is to small so there was no space to place the wheel in standing position between the hatch and cylinder.
That can be bit of an exercise. But all is okay if I can drive my ride at half the price.
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Old 3rd August 2013, 19:50   #12
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Originally Posted by StrangeWizard View Post
6.43 kgs of gas went in since I already had some amount left.
Whats the capacity of the cylinder? If possible can you post the pics of cylinder installation and the signal console to indicate the CNG pressure along with the changeover switch. One of my building colleague who owns a Spark had enquired me the same during our recent discussions. He's also inclined to go for the CNG conversion.
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Old 3rd August 2013, 21:03   #13
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Originally Posted by v12 View Post
Congrats on CNG'ing your Spark StrangeWizard!!
Thanks v12! I do hope the mileage increases.
Most of my running was done in mild to heavy traffic and along with some highway driving in a 70:30 ratio.
However today after filling the gas I drove 2 kms and the first light already went off! Then 2 other lights went off after 30-32 kms each.
My car's CNG switch has 4 green lights and 1 orange light for the reserve gas.
I'm worried why did the 1st light go off so quickly? Can there be any leak? Or there might be a possibility that the petrol pump guy didn't fill the tank completely.

Do you know how to check for any leaks?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ghodlur View Post
Whats the capacity of the cylinder? If possible can you post the pics of cylinder installation and the signal console to indicate the CNG pressure along with the changeover switch. One of my building colleague who owns a Spark had enquired me the same during our recent discussions. He's also inclined to go for the CNG conversion.
Ghodlur, the owner of the garage had said that the tank has 65kg water capacity, around 8-10 kgs of gas can go in depending on the pressure.

I will surely click the pics tomorrow and post them here for everyone's benefit.


Guys,
There is some pressure meter in the bonnet which was installed by the cng guy, can someone explain me how to interpret it? When I went to fill gas today, the needle was just above the red mark and after filling it was near the 200 mark. Does this mean that this certain amount of gas is present in the tank?

Last edited by StrangeWizard : 3rd August 2013 at 21:14.
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Old 3rd August 2013, 21:39   #14
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Default re: Converted my Chevrolet Spark to CNG!

Quote:
Originally Posted by StrangeWizard View Post
My car's CNG switch has 4 green lights and 1 orange light for the reserve gas.
I'm worried why did the 1st light go off so quickly?
The CNG in my WagonR (company fitted) has a 8.5kg tank which has a similar meter, and referring to that I can tell you that the meter isnt linear.
The first light mostly goes of in less than 15 kms of driving

The lower meters are more than 2 or 2.5 kg per green light.
so there is no leak what I can deduce from your comment, and no reason to worry
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Old 3rd August 2013, 22:36   #15
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Default re: Converted my Chevrolet Spark to CNG!

Quote:
Originally Posted by StrangeWizard View Post
Thanks v12! I do hope the mileage increases.
Most of my running was done in mild to heavy traffic and along with some highway driving in a 70:30 ratio.
However today after filling the gas I drove 2 kms and the first light already went off! Then 2 other lights went off after 30-32 kms each.
My car's CNG switch has 4 green lights and 1 orange light for the reserve gas.
I'm worried why did the 1st light go off so quickly? Can there be any leak? Or there might be a possibility that the petrol pump guy didn't fill the tank completely.

Do you know how to check for any leaks?
Hey Strangewizard, thats very much normal - but dont take that as an indication of low mileage. The first light in our Baleno goes at 20 kms and sometimes even at 5 kms. I believe it all depends on how much gas has been filled - and at how much the first light is supposed to go off at. A good practice is to fill in at a CNG pump where the pressure is good - so that you get a good quantity.
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