Running trucks on propane have always seemed like an intelligent alternative to gasoline. It makes many people wonder whether it's possible? So we dove into the topic and did some significant research to answer all their questions.
You can run trucks on propane, known as propane autogas, as some are even designed specifically for it. It's also possible to convert almost any truck into a propane-powered vehicle. Several people decide to go through with the conversion as there are a lot of benefits to running vehicles using propane.
Of course, these benefits do require a bit more explanation. You'll need to know all pros and cons of propane-powered trucks to help you decide if it's the right move. We'll discuss each one in extensive detail and other crucial questions within our following discussions.
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Pros of Propane Trucks
Some truck owners, especially fleet managers, opt for a propane-powered truck or convert it to propane. However, it begs the question of what advantages come from using propane autogas over standard gasoline. So let's take a look and see whether the incentives are worth it for you:
Runs More Efficiently
Vehicles indeed require more propane autogas than gasoline to travel a given distance. Some people might view this as a disadvantage, but it's not. Propane fuel is in a gas form, making your engine run more efficiently, especially on those cold days.
On the other hand, diesel engines aren't best in cold weather. You can find out more about those struggles within our article, "Diesel Engine Won’t Start In Cold—What Could Be Wrong?"
In any case, this advantage helps offset any additional propane consumed compared with gasoline. It's also worth noting that torque and horsepower for propane vehicles are similar to gasoline. But the power will be slightly weaker as propane is less dense.
Long Term Cost
As mentioned previously, propane trucks require more fuel to run the same distance as gasoline. But the long-term operating costs are much less than standard fuel. There's a lot less maintenance required with propane trucks than a gasoline-powered one.
This quality makes propane the least expensive form of alternative fuel. So if you're looking to save money long-term, having a propane-powered truck could be suitable.
Effect on the Environment
One of the main benefits of propane fuel systems is their sealed configurations. Due to this, a lot less fuel will evaporate during use or refueling, making it better for our planet. It also produces less ozone than gasoline and contains less sulfur and lead.
Those elements contribute to less acid rain, which everyone knows is terrible for the environment. Plus, propane-powered vehicles produce less carbon monoxide than gasoline while emitting few toxins.
Propane users can feel safe running their vehicles on it. After all, it's a nontoxic fuel with the lowest flammability rate of any alternative fuel. These qualities make it a lot less explosive and dangerous than standard gasoline.
Propane has a reputation for being as convenient as gasoline when refueling. But where its convenience shines is when compared to other alternative fuels. This is because it has a much more efficient fuel-to-pump method than what you get with other fuels aside from gasoline.
Cons of Propane Trucks
But propane isn't a perfect fuel source for trucks. Unfortunately, it does have some downsides worth discussing before deciding whether to convert:
More Refuels and Bulky Tanks
Propane-fueled trucks will require more frequent gas station stops than gasoline vehicles. It comes from propane offering less energy, covering short driving ranges. Finding a propane autogas refueling station can be difficult, as well.
You'll also notice that propane tanks are heavier and take up a lot more space. So it can lead to a complicated and taxing installation process.
Most trucks won't come ready to accept propane autogas from the start. Due to this, their owners will have to convert the existing truck over to propane. This process can become expensive, so you'll need to do significant research before starting it.
The conversion process is the most costly part of using propane fuel. Owners will eventually recoup this money through lower fuel costs and less maintenance. However, the original burden can be a dealbreaker for many truck owners.
How Much Does it Cost to Run a Truck on Propane?
Owners can expect the conversion of a truck to propane to cost about $6,000 per vehicle. For instance, it'll include parts, such as a conversion kit and propane tank, plus labor costs. It'll take a couple of years for a propane fuel system to benefit your bank account.
How Long Can a Truck Run on Propane?
You can expect any truck engine V6 or larger to last anywhere from four to six hours. After this timeframe, you'll need refueling, which isn't easy in some areas.
Are Propane Vehicles Safe?
Propane is considered a safe motor fuel source by the federal government. After all, many school buses use propane autogas around the country. Propane vehicle tanks are also tested to four times the standard operating pressure.
They're 20 times more puncture resistant than gasoline, ethanol, or methanol tanks, as well. These qualities make propane autogas a safe and reliable fuel for various vehicle owners.
Is a Propane Conversion Worth It?
Given these previous discussions, this question depends on the truck owner's values. Propane conversion will be a suitable choice if they want a more cost-effective fuel source. But someone who doesn't have a lot of funds upfront could find it challenging.
So it becomes an exercise of going over the pros and cons. From there, you must decide what side of the argument best suits your preferences. Once you handle them, the right choice should become relatively straightforward.
How Do I Convert my Truck to Propane?
If you've decided to convert over to propane, we've got a straightforward 7-step guide. But we always recommend talking to a professional first before doing anything yourself. If you don't have experience working on cars, it's best to leave the process for them.
1. Choose a Well-Maintained Truck
Your chosen truck shouldn't have any issues before converting it. The process is a lot easier when your vehicle is well-maintained and isn't overly burdensome.
2. Select a Conversion Kit Type
You'll come across different conversion types in today's market. Each truck owner will have to decide what suits their vehicle best. Open-loop systems are the most basic as these don't control your truck's electronic system. Due to this, it prevents truck owners from gauging their engine's performance.
Closed-loop systems are more advanced as they use a sensor to offer engine performance data. They also provide the ability to adjust your fuel to air ratio for the best performance possible.
3. Check The Warranties
Converting a truck to propane will void its warranty. As a result, ensuring your conversion kit comes with a comprehensive one becomes necessary. It must cover any mechanical failures that using the kit might cause.
Some states will even require these kits to come with comprehensive warranties. It's always lovely when your local government makes sure you get a little protection.
4. Purchase The Kit
Locate a conversion kit compatible with your truck. But make sure it has a fuel controller, values, actuators, tank, software, and electronics. Buyers can purchase these items together or separately, so think about what you need for your vehicle.
5. Install The Propane Tank
Since this task is a complete propane fuel conversion, you'll need to remove the gasoline tank. Proceed to replace it with your new propane tank. Some people might need to hire a professional, as this can get complicated. If you continue, run the propane hose and insulate to protect them from damage.
6. Follow Kit's Instructions and Modify The Engine
Next, follow the conversion kit's instructions and modify the engine as necessary. Ensure you adjust the compression ratio and cam timing. You can then install the valve needed for isolating the propane from the truck's engine when it's off. From there, install the electronic shut-off valve.
7. Test Out Your Truck
Fuel your truck's propane tank and check for any gas leaks. You can then start up the vehicle and see whether the conversion was successful. It's also necessary to check where you've made the required timing adjustments.
At this point, it becomes a matter of inspecting your filter for gas leaks regularly. In addition, we recommend keeping an eye on the spark plugs as it's the most common issue with propane trucks.
If you've ever wondered about spark plugs in diesel engines, check our article "Do Diesel Engines Have Spark Plugs?" It'll run through everything that you could ever want to know.
We hope our discussions about propane-powered trucks answered your questions. You should now know everything that you've ever wanted about this topic. But if you still have a couple of questions, please leave a post in our comment section. We'll make sure to answer each one with a detailed and timely response. Thanks for reading!