CNG cars have received bad press but most of the so-called problems can be put down to the popular assumption that a factory fitted kit devolves the owner of all other responsibilities.
Wrong. Cars are designed to run on petrol, so it takes a bit of caution and care to keep your CNG car healthy. Here’s how:
Start driving on petrol
Start your car on petrol and let it idle for a bit. Don’t switch to CNG — even if your kit allows you to — for at least one kilometre. This helps lubricate the engine, and reduce wear-and-tear.
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Perishable parts such as air filters take a beating on CNG, so service your vehicle more frequently; if your service is due at 15,000 km, get it done when you touch the 12,000km mark. This will spare you the horror of being stranded on a rainy night due to simple issues like lack of engine oil, coolant or a breakdown of parts.
Get CNG tuning done by a specialist
Always get the CNG kit tuned by a specialist. If your car has a factory fitted CNG kit, go to the authorized service center. At the hands of unqualified mechanics, your CNG car could have problems like increased engine vibration, irregular acceleration (missing), etc.
Replace spark plugs
Spark plugs meant for petrol vehicles wear out fast when driving on CNG. There are two ways you can combat this issue: either use special spark plugs meant for CNG cars (they cost between Rs.150-200 a piece) or you could request your mechanic to reduce the gap between the metallic tip of your plug and the actual source of spark (This will cost you nothing if you know the guy!)
Never drive till tank is empty
The CNG cylinder’s pressure falls as it empties, and can cause the valve to explode. Also, replace the valves regularly — it will cost you anywhere between Rs.500-Rs.950depending on your kit.