What’s it like to drive an LPG car?

Heard of LPG cars but not driven one?  MoneySupermarket’s motor enthusiast Les Roberts takes one for a spin and presents his verdict.

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Imagine if you could run your car on a fuel that was not only more environmentally friendly than petrol and diesel, but was also around half the price?

And what if its cleaner emissions meant that it could prolong the life of your engine and also bag you a discount on your road tax?

If your car is powered by LPG then you’ll already be reaping all of those benefits.

What is LPG?

LPG is colourless and odourless natural hydrocarbon fuel that is liquefied under modest pressure or cooling and is a naturally occurring by-product of natural gas extraction and crude oil refining.

For us motorists, LPG is a more cost eco-friendly and cost effective way to run our cars; the planet benefiting from its lower emissions and lower carbon footprint, our pockets profiting from a potential 40% saving on fuel costs.

Although LPG returns fewer miles per gallon than petrol, it is subject to a much lower fuel duty and so is around half the price of petrol and diesel – and this saving far outweighs the reduction in miles per gallon ratio.

So, with so many positives, why have less than 1% of the UK’s 31million vehicles been converted to run on LPG?

One reason could be the installation costs, which range from between about £1,500 and £2,000 – and while there’s a good chance you’ll recoup this in the savings you’ll make on fuel within a year or so, it’s still a big initial outlay.

Then there’s the installation process which will see you without your car for the best part of a few days and involves fitting a secondary fuel tank – this used to take up quite a bit of boot space but tanks are now often fitted in the spare wheel well (you’ll have to carry a foam tyre repair kit or fit run flat tyres in lieu of the spare).

Availability of LPG is also cited as concern by motorists but with over 1,400 LPG stations in the UK, from the Isle of Wight to Wick, it’s unlikely that you’ll get caught short.

And even after a conversion, your car will still run on petrol and will automatically switch over to the petrol tank if you run out of LPG – you can also switch between LPG and Petrol at any time by using a switch that is usually positioned on the dashboard or the centre console.

Refuelling is done via a secondary fuel pipe which only fits nozzles from LPG pumps and so there is no risk of putting in the wrong fuel type.

Is it worth converting my car?

Before you make the jump to LPG, work out how much you could save by driving on LPG - there’s a handy calculator here – and then offset that against the cost of installation.

If the figures look favourable then it’s probably worth getting your car converted.

Any conversions must be done by an LPGA approved installer and you must inform both the DVLA and your insurer that you’ve had an LPG system installed.

But don’t worry, although technically a modification, you shouldn’t see an increase in your premium – if you do, then it may be worth shopping around for a better deal

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