Tuesday, 4 November 2008
Firstly, the hoses connecting up to the coolant system werent even tightened! So it took me a couple of weeks to figure out why the car was losing all it's coolant. Not only that, one nasty occasion coming through preston in traffic caused the car to overheat, almost getting over 100 degrees (due to the lack of coolant).
Now fortunately I am technically minded enough to pressurise the coolant system to see where the leak was coming from, and i wasnt overly surprised to see that it was coming from the lpg system's additional parts. Had I been an unsuspecting customer I could have had an engine seizure, engine fire, or worse???
What is so frustrating is that I chose warrington autogas because of their long list of satisfied customers. Unfortunately, it seems that paying them £1275 plus credit card fee isnt enough for them to turn out a decent job :-( at least in my case anyway.
I bought a new battery, and it turned out that although the previous battery had held out perfectly acceptably for the past year of ownership (and through a winter period), it was the incorrect battery for the car, being 43ah instead of 60ah. So a bit of split culpability there, whilst i am confident the battery would still have worked without the additional strain of the LPG kit's failings, it could always be argued that the battery wasnt up to the job.
Anyway, I bought a new battery and went to fit it. Joy of joys, where the gas exchange unit had been bolted to the battery tray, it precluded access to the battery clamp. In fact it was screwed to the battery clamp itself, with a smaller than two inch gap to get access to the securing bolts (pictures to follow).
Had I known the lpg kit would have prevented the easy maintenance of user serviceable parts (such as the battery) I never would have had it fitted, and was never informed of this at any time during the installation.
After much swearing, the gas exchange unit was unbolted and the old battery was removed. When I went to fit the new (correctly sized battery), I was prevented from doing so AGAIN!
Turns out the mechanics at warrington autogas had seen the large space in the battery tray (which should have been filled by a correctly sized battery) and instead of thinking "that battery looks a bit small, maybe we should tell him to check it" they thought "thats a perfect place to fit our lpg ecu box!!!", thus preventing me fitting a new battery. I had to pull this out, and rest it in an unideal place to the right of the battery.
I phoned Andy at WA again, obviously unimpressed, and again, I received a load of "well that's strange, it shouldnt be doing that" and "you should be able to get to the battery". To his credit, he did advise me to get it straight in to him and he would try and sort it out so I will report back once I have!
Tried to get the cold stalling problem sorted at the 1000 mile service, all that happened was that the temperature change over was set higher, however, this was not the problem. The car was stalling at junctions in cold weather.
The gauge was also not sorted. Instead of reading empty when the tank was half empty, it was now reading half full when the tank was empty.
Also, I did not get any apologies, only "oh god thats not very good" and "yeah thats about standard for those gauges", but as it was the 1000 mile service, and this is when the creases should be ironed out I wasnt overly concerned.
Needless to say, I had to take the car back. This time, Andy (the owner) worked on the car instead of one of his colleagues. He sorted out the problem that I had of the fuel pipes rubbing on the bonnet (surely should never have been installed like that, as he admitted) and of the gas distribution box actually wearing its way all the way through the bonnet carpet (again should never have been installed like that).
Unfortunately, whilst the cold stalling problem was temporarily fixed (i.e. when the temperature was over 10 degrees C the car ran fine, under and it would stall at EVERY junction), as the temperature decreased (as it is winter) it became problem again. So much so that my battery gave up the ghost.
Friday, 8 August 2008
1. The problem with the gauge. It reads empty when the tank is only half empty. Not so much of a problem to me, as I know how to read it now, but it would be nice if it was actually accurate.
2. The car cuts out at junctions when it's cold and the lpgs only just switched over.
I emailed andy at WA to arrange the service, and got a reply back after a few days, so will phone today to arrange a definite time.
Another thing on the to do list is to sort out the boot. Having the 60 litre tank means there is a large lump in the boot floor and I would prefer it to be flat. I think im going to make a false floor out of mdf.
Sunday, 27 July 2008
Was slightly worried that my gauge read empty at 120 miles, however, the tank carried on to the 240 mile point without cutting out, so all was fine.
I have the following results with regards to mileage:
1st Tank £22.75 - 240 Miles - Price per mile - 9.5p
2nd Tank* £22.00 - 225 Miles - Price per mile - 9.8p
3rd Tank £25.60 - 273 Miles - Price per mile - 9.4p
4th Tank £26.18 - Not finished yet.
This is compared with a price of 17p per mile on petrol.
The reading for the second tankful was a bit funny because the station I filled up at (suthers star garage at longton), seemed to have a broken pump and after about 35 litres started going really slowly and it took about 7 minutes for the next 5 litres so I gave up at 40 litres. When I asked the girl behind the check out if everything was ok with the gas pump she said "Yeah I think so, noone else has complained; I'll make sure I tell some one about it".
I decided not to bother risking not being able to fill my tank up, so wont go back there!
Thursday, 3 July 2008
Arrived at Warrington Autogas (WA) to collect my car and was given a thorough walk and talk through the equipment, including filling, operation, and technical layout (I usually do all my own work on the car, not lpg conversions obviously). The technician got in the car before I drove around the block to confirm everything was working ok.
Paid the bill, which, on top of the cost of the conversion had £22.50 on top for a full tank of gas. I received all the neccessary paperwork including the conversion certificate.
They fitted an OMVL kit in the end, which comes with a lifetime guarantee on the injectors (previously a weak spot for OMVL kits apparently), and 2 years parts and labour at WA.
Was very peculiar driving home and not seeing the petrol gauge changing at all! The car is much quieter to drive, and does not seem any slower at all than before. So far, all is good. I resetted my trip counter to see how long a full tank of gas will get me but what is worrying is that it seemed to lose the fourth led (four leds that display the amount of gas) after only 40 or so miles of driving. If this is an accurate measurement, the mpg is less than half what I would get from petrol. I will confirm this by running the tank dry and seeing what the final figure is.
Monday, 30 June 2008
If, like me, you don't have £1275 lying around,you will probably have to borrow money to buy an LPG conversion. I could have used my student loan to buy it, but decided on getting a 0% Credit Card (from halifax) to buy the conversion on. I did this for a number of reasons:
- I wouldn't pay any interest on borrowing the money, as long as I paid it off within the introductory period (10 months)
- If anything went (goes) wrong with the conversion, the credit card company are equally as liable as the converter! I picked this tip up from: http://www.lpginfo.co.uk/. Unfortunately, the author of this webpage got royally ripped off by a rogue trader, but got his money back off the credit card company. Handy tips and guides are on that website.
- Psychologically, I would use the savings in petrol (I usually pay £200 a month, I was hoping to reduce that by at least £80) to pay off the conversion, or at least the bulk of it.
2. The savings
As I said, the 2.2 litre Astra is a nice car, but it's nippy, and I'm 23, so I like to drive it fast occasionally. I also work about 15 miles away from home and my girlfriend lives about 15 miles away as well, so all this means I was spending about £50 a week on petrol. (Therefore about £200 a month). As I write, the sums are as follows:
LPG is about 54p a litre, petrol is now 115.9p per litre so LPG is cheaper by more than half.
BUT! - you only get about 80-95% of the efficiency of petrol with LPG so at best LPG is very nearly half as cheap as petrol.
BUT! (2) you dont only run on LPG, many people find themselves spending about £15 or £20 on petrol each month, as it is best practice to start, and turn off the engine, whilst on petrol.
As I said I was hoping to save £80 a month, this would enable me to pay off 2 thirds of the installation within the credit card introductiory period, I would pay the rest off with whatever student loan I had at the time. Or I could transfer it to another credit card.
Warrington autogas are not LPGA approved, nor do they pretend to be, but the analogy therin is that "would you pay £200 for a bmw service, when a specialist would do it for £50?".
I had also scoured the web, and found many seemingly independent testimonials from satisfied customers, some of whom were on their second and even third conversion from Andy at Warrington.
I had consulted a local converter (local to where I work, literally a two minute walk), but he seemed very dodgy to talk to, and denigrated Andy at warrington autogas. He also told blatant lies (see this forum post I made http://www.my90.co.uk/lpg/viewtopic.php?t=5681)
He also had what appeared to be a dissatisfied customer on the premises waiting to speak to him after I had left, charged £150 more than Andy at warrington and seemed to have a "have a go" attitude with regard to converting my engine, which didnt seem great.
I also (later) read details of him lying to customers when problems arose with their conversions, blaming the car rather than the conversion. For this reason I decided to take my car the 2 hour round trip to warrington.
Romano, whilst not the most premium kit on the market, are far from budget, so it was decided on one of these kits with a 60 litre tank in the spare wheel well. Although this would cause a bulge in my carpet I wanted itto last as close to a tank of petrol as possible. And as LPG only fills 80% of a volume it is put into (48 litres) and is between 85-95% as efficient as petrol, this was the best compromise.
Anyone who has an Astra Coupe will know that boot space is hardly at a premium (2 full size suitcases and one small, without putting seats down, easily).
The filler cap would be fitted in the rear bumper, to avoid irrepairable damage to the body work of the car.
I decided to write this for many reasons. Mainly, because whilst researching LPG conversions I could not find much information on them or user feedback.
What I did find is (as per usual) loads of people complaining when their LPG wasnt working, but few people telling of their smooth conversion, and great saving.
I have taken the plunge after some research and my car has just gone into Warrington Autogas www.warrington-autogas.co.uk for its conversion, and I have a nice new Ford Focus as my courtesy car.
My next post will tell of how I decided on various aspects of my conversion.