Team AckoMar 9, 2022
The Indian automotive market is extremely price-sensitive, and fuel-efficiency is the priority of every car buyer in the country. That’s what led to the emergence of CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) cars. CNG-powered vehicles are affordable and also they produce way fewer emissions than a petrol/diesel car. If you own a CNG car and are looking for a CNG auto Safety and Maintenance Guide, then this article will provide you with all the information related to CNG car maintenance.
A CNG car can also be called a dual-fuel car because it can run on both petrol and CNG. The major advantage of a CNG-powered car is its superior fuel economy, and CNG is also an affordable fuel when compared to petrol. So, the running cost of a CNG car is way less when compared to a petrol car. Apart from that, CNG produces 95 percent less emission than a conventional petrol car. So, a CNG car can also be called an eco-friendly vehicle.
But installing a CNG kit and CNG car maintenance can be a challenge, and if you do not take necessary precautions, it can lead to untoward incidents. You should always take extra care and precautions if you own a CNG auto/vehicle. This article will also throw light on the precautionary measures you need to take for a CNG-powered car.
CNG cars might be light on the pocket, but they have their drawbacks. CNG is a highly-flammable gas when compared to petrol. Even a minute leakage from the CNG cylinder or fuel line can lead to mishaps. That’s the reason why maintenance of a CNG car is so important. Below are the top precautions to be taken while using a CNG car:
Modern CNG cars come equipped with factory-fitted CNG kits, and it’s always better to buy a CNG car with a CNG kit pre-installed by the manufacturer. But the majority of people try to convert their petrol cars to CNG cars, and in the process, they end up installing CNG kit through a local mechanic. Try to avoid local dealers or mechanics for installation of CNG kits as it might lead to leakage or cause damage to the mechanicals of the car.
Avoid using substandard accessories while installing a CNG kit. Make sure that the cylinder and the fuel lines are of high quality and manufactured as per the industry standards. Also, make sure that the CNG kit you buy is compatible with your car. If the kit is not compatible with the car or if it’s of low quality, there are high chances of fire or damages to the components of the car.
Spark plugs are one of the most important components of an engine as they are responsible for the combustion of fuel. While installing a CNG kit, make sure that you install new spark plugs which are compatible with CNG. In case you cannot source CNG-compatible spark plugs, you need to reduce the gap between the source of the spark and the metal tip of the spark plug.
Once you install a CNG kit in your car, the next step is to get the CNG Cylinder test Certificate from the authorised CNG Kit dealer. The certificate is very important as it will be proof of installing a branded and approved CNG kit and cylinder in your vehicle.
While starting a CNG car, you should always keep the vehicle on petrol mode till the engine warms up. After the engine reaches its optimum operating temperature, you can switch to CNG mode, and it results in longevity of engine life as there will be sufficient lubrication before switching to CNG fuel.
A CNG car owner should regularly check the cylinder and fuel lines for any leaks or damages. Also, one should avoid overfilling of the cylinder as it may lead to leakage of gas. Leakage of CNG can be fatal as it might cause an explosion. So, you should regularly check the cylinder for any signs of damages or leaks, and if required should service the CNG kit through an authorized service centre.
A CNG car should be serviced at regular intervals to keep the components in good shape. The electricals of the car are also very important and rusty/old wires can lead to short circuits, which may cause a fire. You should also service the CNG kit at least once in five years by an authorized service centre. The regular wear and tear can affect the cylinder and fuel lines, and it’s best to replace them if they are found defective.
You should always adhere to the rules and regulations prescribed under the Motor Vehicles Act while using a CNG car. You should not use the car heater for a very long time and transport highly flammable materials in a CNG vehicle. Bursting crackers near a CNG car can also be dangerous. Any damages to the CNG car due to your negligence can cost you dearly as the insurer might reject the car insurance claim. So, follow the rules while driving a CNG-powered vehicle.
Switch-off your car’s ignition when refilling the CNG. Leaving the car’s engine running can lead to untoward incidents, as there are chances of sparks. A minute spark can ignite CNG, and to be on the safer side, it’s better to switch off the ignition.
Ensure that the cylinder pressure does not go beyond the manufacturer prescribed pressure while refilling CNG. Overfilling the cylinder might lead to leaks, and there is a high risk of fire with such leakages. You can measure the pressure through the gauge provided on the refilling machine.
Summers bring soaring high temperatures, and it causes the CNG to expand inside the cylinder. So, consider filling only up to two-thirds of the cylinder capacity in summers. A filled cylinder can be fatal in high temperatures, and there is a high risk of explosion due to the expanding CNG.
Always try to park the CNG car in a shaded or covered area where you can avoid direct sunlight. Exposure to sunlight for a long period can increase the temperature inside the car, and it might lead to an explosion. Excessive heat is not at all good for a CNG cylinder as it can expand and explode.
The air filter is one of the most critical components of a car. A clean air filter helps in the efficient running of the engine. Clean the air filter regularly and if required, replace it with a new one at regular intervals. Air filters are inexpensive, so you can clean or replace them frequently, especially if you stay in a dusty environment.
The connecting valve between the air filter and intake manifold is called the throttle body. Keeping the throttle body clean is crucial for smooth acceleration. You should clean the throttle body at regular intervals and replace it every year.
You can consider renewing the CNG compliance plate once in three years. The renewal procedure makes sure that the cylinder and fuel lines are inspected for leakages as per the rules. Apart from that, it also enhances the efficiency of the CNG kit, and it directly impacts the performance of the CNG car.
Replacing the CNG filter is crucial as it affects the acceleration and engine. You can consider replacing the filter after you have driven around 20,000km. If you don’t change the filter, you may experience loss of power due to a clogged filter. Whenever you service the CNG car, check the filter and also check for any leaks in the fuel lines.
Also, read: How to add CNG to car insurance?
Maintaining and taking care of the components of the CNG car leads to a hassle-free ownership experience. But that’s not enough, as a driver, you need to take some precautions to avoid any mishaps. Below are the precautions you should take while driving a CNG car:
If you drive a CNG car, you should never smoke inside the car. Smoking inside the car can be dangerous as it can lead to a fire, and with a CNG cylinder in the back of the vehicle, the consequences may be fatal.
You would have seen signs on fuel stations which state that you should not use mobile phones. The same applies to CNG refilling stations. Do not use mobile phones while refilling CNG as it can lead to a fire.
You should not start a CNG-powered car in CNG mode. Always start the car in petrol mode till the engine warms up. Drive for around 1km and then switch to CNG fuel. For an enhanced engine life, you should always warm up the engine on petrol mode. When the engine reaches its optimum working temperature, you can switch to CNG mode.
Also, read: Car Insurance in Bangalore
Maintaining a CNG can be a difficult task if you do not know the basic functionalities of a CNG vehicle. Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about CNG cars:
I own a CNG car. How do I maintain it?
You can maintain your CNG car by following the below points:
>Check for leaks regularly.
>Check for damages on the cylinder.
>Change/Clean spark plugs at regular intervals.
>Clean/Replace the air filter and throttle body.
>Park the CNG car in shaded/covered places.
>Always start the car on petrol fuel.
I own an automatic car. Can I install a CNG kit in my car?
Yes, you can install the CNG kit in any petrol car. It doesn’t matter if it is a manual or an automatic car. But make sure to buy the CNG kit from an authorised dealer, and it should be compatible with your vehicle.
What if my CNG car runs out of gas while driving?
If the CNG car runs out of gas, it will automatically switch to petrol fuel, provided you have enough petrol in the fuel tank. You need not even stop the car, and it will automatically switch to petrol fuel while driving.
What are the disadvantages of owning a CNG car?
Below are the disadvantages of owning a CNG car:
>Difficult to find CNG refill stations.
>Reduced boot space due to the CNG cylinder.
>Lower power output.
>Damages the spark plugs and injectors on the long run.
>Low fuel range.
Does installing a CNG kit damage my car’s engine?
No, there will be no damage to the engine, but CNG fuel lowers the power output by 10 to 15 percent. You will experience a slight lack of power while driving the car in CNG fuel.
I am planning to buy a CNG car. Is it worth the money?
If you drive a lot of distance, a CNG car can drastically reduce the running cost when compared to a petrol car. Yes, it is worth buying a CNG car if you drive around 15,000-16,000km in a year.
Why are CNG cars not so popular in India?
CNG cars are not popular in India because of the limited availability of CNG refuelling stations. Another factor is that the range of a CNG cylinder is way less when compared to a petrol car.
Do I have to get out of the car while refuelling CNG?
Yes, it’s better to get out of the car while refuelling CNG. Because CNG is a gas, and inhaling the gas can cause adverse effects on your health. Also, if there is a fire while filling the CNG, you will be safe if you are out of the car.
Which are the best CNG cars in India?
Which is the best time to refuel a CNG car?
You can consider refuelling the CNG early in the day when the temperature is low. Because with the rising temperature CNG expands, and you will not get better pressure of the fuel.
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