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What is your experience with LPG?


lleiro
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Hi everyone,

I am in the market for a 3rd or 4th gen legacy either saloon or estate after owning several Subarus back in the US where I relocated from. Subarus in the midwest are like VWs here.

I will be commuting about 2500miles per month and I know that on the EJ25 I wont be getting much more than 28-31mpg in the motorway and I need to do a lot better than that.

I am seeing LPG installations in the region of £700 and I have no doubts about how much I like and trust the Legacy if it was well taken care of. I am not too sure how well they do running on LPG. I do not care much for the minor loss of power but I am more concerned with Mechanical problems/nighmares that might come my way. I read that I can add a valve protection device...

Since I am in the subject I will deviate from the question a bit and ask you too if you find parts and spares without much hassle or if it is sometimes difficult to find them.

Differentials, and head gaskets are the achiles heel so I better ask too!

Looking forward to get some feedback!

Cheers!

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Hello & welcome, I'm afraid I can't comment on the log conversion but some member have either bought cars that have already been converted or if I remember someone was doing a conversion.

Spares are easy to get hold of, best place for oem parts and the like which won't destroy your wallet is www.importcarparts.co.uk much cheaper than main dealers,

There's loads of other companies around too

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Personally I do a lot of miles I would not consider a petrol , roads are different over here ... majorly ! 

I would get a diesel, when I started the job I'm in I was using my BMW 2.5 and that was doing about 24mpg  on a run and boy do you notice it ! I switched to a tdci Mondeo which was faster and did 50mpg !

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Welcome on board.

 

Ah.....the old LPG topic. They hate me on the other forum (a Legacy forum incidentally) I belong to because I am a firm believer that if you need to convert a car to run on 60ppl fuel, then perhaps it is the wrong motor for your needs.

Legacies have been my background for 15 years so I have seen quite a few conversions being spoken about and all the experiences over that time. Some good reports / some bad. Valve seat recession being one of the complaints and the annual service which is mandatory and can't be overlooked. LPG fuelling issues or remap issues have been mentioned before.

But many LPG people are converted in both fuel and mind that they are getting a great deal here and everyone else running on 25mpg at 120ppl have failed to grasp the benefit. When I start toying with them, they don't see my jibes as funny. Probably because my jibes are true. :biggrin: They do say the truth sometimes hurts.

So I'll place down some reasons why this LPG thing is not really my scene:-

Trying to find a station with LPG is a little more difficult and given the object of running LPG is to operate with that fuel fully, this starts becoming a headache when there isn't the coverage across the country.

I have never seen a queue or even one car at an LPG pump on the forecourts where there is one. The number of cars converted are few in the UK and this speaks quite loudly to me about why does a 60ppl fuel not take off ?

I think that both points above, that sort of look to popularity, are due to the finance side of this. Most people would say 60ppl is a good thing - cheap motoring. I say it is bad. You need to pay £1500 for a reputable conversion (you get the quality for what you pay) and then the fuel you place in over time pays this back and after some time and mileage, you are quids in. So just figure this a moment - you invest in something to that tune with the hope that you have the car long enough to pay it back.

Sounds reasonable, doesn't it ? What possibly could go wrong ?

Well everything! 

First, what says that you'll complete the 20k miles in the car to pay the conversion back and not be swayed by something else ? Average car ownership in this country is about 2.5 years. So if you are average, you need to not only complete 20k miles in that time, but to make it worth your while and state that you have made a saving, you need to do 40k miles. Otherwise, what's the point of conversion for the saving of a few hundred quid over 2 or 3 years.

Second, people with these conversions start then justifying trips they can now make but wouldn't be able to with a pure petrol motor, because of the fuel cost. Huh ? How does that work ? So you buy a frugal car and then do more miles for no reason, level the costs with the more expensive version and the good news about all of this.....you've traveled further for the same cost. What!?! Tell you what, why not just cut out unnecessary trips if fuel cost is the concern instead of burning more LPG to prove a point. Aaahhhhh......but that is exactly the point to prove. You've got £1500 to pay back. So if you use the car more, you pay it back quicker.

Third, average car ownership takes on board that when dealing with 10 yr old motors, sometimes things go wrong and they croak. So you need to be 100% confident that your 10 yr old motor will see its 12/13th birthday. Well, how confident are you that this will happen ? 

Finally on this aspect, when you buy a car of a certain age, there is no forecast given that tells you what will go wrong under your watch. Sometimes, you get off lucky. Sometimes not. That's the beauty or headache of used cars. They sometimes play all OK, every day. Sometimes, there is an issue and this can be £1000 or whatever. So if we figure the maths here - you buy a petrol Scooby for £5000, for example, and add £1500 of LPG conversion, the money spent on the car is £6500. But actually is still worth £5000 as there is little support that shows LPG cars sell for more money. But no worries - the fuel will pay that back.

Hahaha - not if the car goes bang 2nd month of ownership. Didn't stand a chance to get anything back and now you have a debt. Also, your trader / dealer warranty is now void as it is a modified motor, so no recourse there.

But let's say it doesn't go bang and is merely a clutch or something repairable with a bit of value though to get it right. This motor is becoming a money pit with all the bills and the LPG conversion is not helping. You'd have been better off just leaving the LPG alone and running the motor for a while to see if it is trouble, then decide on the LPG. So when is the best time to convert then ? I don't know! The car isn't getting any younger and the mileage is growing. Perhaps there isn't a good time...just maybe. 

OK, so that's the finance bit. Safety side. Where do I start. Is it me or is there anything remotely insane about a highly pressurised canister sat 3 feet from your body in a motor that propels itself to 70+mph and could be hit by another motor of some speed ? I must be missing the plot. But it seems a good cocktail for some inferno  - and it seems our channel tunnel people have picked up on this not allowing these conversions though on their trains.

Personally, I think the LPG conversion should really be the last straw /  the last ditch attempt to drive something interesting and keep costs down. Alternatives are trying to be a little lighter on the right foot and achieve a good mpg from a petrol version. Or perhaps choose a car that is economical from the outset. Yes, it may be a Euro box, but sometimes having cake and eating it may be a stretch too far.

Just some biased views from me.:biggrin: 

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Guy I know bought a classic Impreza turbo and covers a lot of miles in his work. Went and converted his car to LPG on his trip to Europe, he said the running cost was less than his 2003 Astra diesel. We have filling stations here and he hadn't mentioned any problems, I saw him briefly a couple days ago and he still seems really happy with the car, didn't mention any problems.

Guess it's just finding a good installer.

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Thank you all for your thorough replies!

As I mentioned I will be doing 2500 miles a month so 60ppl vs 120ppl even at a reduced mpg is a significant saving that I will recover in probably 6 months or so.

I am not planning to spend £6k. I am actually planning to spend more like £1500. I keep seeing Legacies in the 100k miles selling for as little as £800 for a 4th gen.

 

I bought my first Subaru (a 1995 legacy brighton ( bare version sold in the US) with the 2.2) at 195k miles and drove perfectly and have since bought subarus at 130-150k and was never disappointed so I would consider a FSH Legacy with 100k to be a low miles one.

I understand that the reservations have to do with what some might seen as a false economy. I also hear the safety concerns although the same would apply to the petrol tank which is a lot less guarded and a lot flimsier than the ones used for LPG Installations.

I did a 7000klm road trip in the continent on a hired Kia Cee'd on LPG and it was brilliant and the savings were unbelievable hence my inclination to think of this choice.

Looks like with the valve protection I would be covering one of the few mechanical pitfalls discussed in regard to switching to LPG. Are there any other?

I will be commuting back and forth From SW London to Reading 4-5 times a week and I check and there are several stations with LPG.

Also for the sake of a rich discussion, I would guess that there would be a lot of deep pockets affected if every petrol car is converted to run on a renewable source of energy. It is very popular in the continent. Why not here? 

It is also said that the impact on the environment of the disposal of batteries on the hybrids is as harmful or worst than the Co2 emissions not to mention the replacement costs.

Is good we have choices!

Cheers!

 

 

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18 minutes ago, lleiro said:

As I mentioned I will be doing 2500 miles a month so 60ppl vs 120ppl even at a reduced mpg is a significant saving that I will recover in probably 6 months or so.

I am not planning to spend £6k. I am actually planning to spend more like £1500. I keep seeing Legacies in the 100k miles selling for as little as £800 for a 4th gen.

The issue with LPG fuel is that the calorific value is not as strong as petrol. Basically, you get less bang for the same quantity of fuel. Therefore, whilst LPG cost is 50% of petrol here, the true output is around 60-65%. So a 30mpg car on petrol translates to about 26mpg or so on LPG under the same driving condition.

Nevertheless, there is a saving.

The Kia that you drove with LPG on the continent. How old was this car ? Reasonably new ? This would be the only type of vehicle I would consider converting - the newer cars - because at least you have some guarantee that it won't croak before the conversion is paid back.

Sorry, I know this comes across as quite harsh with your plan - buying a 100k+ miler for £1500 and then adding a £1500 conversion to it, expecting that the car will last, is asking for issues. You would be better off converting something that is newer, knowing that your investment is safe. 

People who are in favour of this fuel look at the pump price generally and this is what sways them. All the stuff about car reliability generally gets forgotten. You have to look at this thing as an investment - paying money up front for the usage to pay you back. The older the car / the higher the mileage on the car, the riskier the investment is because that investment could be wasted.

I know that the Subaru is your preferred option. But would it be a good start to consider some diesel motors instead - a tried and tested formula for mileage munching for cheap money ?

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No harshness at all! That is why I love online forums. Civil exchange of ideas ;)

It was  a brand new Cee'd 1.6

I am considering Diesel option and statistics point to the 1.9 TDI VAG and I quite like the B6 A4 although I will get more for my money on Skoda or Seat.

I really love Subarus but the HG failure and the sensitive differentials is not something I particularly miss. Also on LPG I would have to carry a full size Spare forfeiting a decent portion of the cargo area. (That is how diff problems begin... with mismatched tyres. Not again!)

 

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Hello,

I have a EJ205 Forester XT standard 177 bhp, which I had converted to LPG in March 2015  ~35,000 miles ago.
The car has now done around 178,000 miles, so was far from perfect when the installation happened.
Since owning the car I have tried to do oil & Filters every 7-8,000 miles and have Changed the plugs once.

I paid just over £1000 including water pump and timing belts. The guys did it in a day, using a KING OBD LPG system - so if ever it was going to go wrong it would be with this one.
As I was getting around 25-26mpg on petrol and around 22mpg on LPG and the price of LPG being half that of petrol, it took me around 10,000 miles to pay for the installation.

During the last 35,000 miles I had very few issues that I believe to be related to the LPG system. The first being a leak in the radiator, which was easily rectified with an ebay pattern part radiator.

During the last 2 years I have driven to France (from Scotland), commuted daily, towed caravans and trailers and driven hard.

The installation is probably more difficult on Subaru's than any other car, due to the location of the injectors being buried beneath the inlet manifold. Other than this the biggest issue I believe for users, is bleeding the coolant system of air, this being difficult at the best of times in a Subaru engine but made slightly harder by the inclusion of a vaporiser. LPG systems do not seem to cause problems, but perhaps enhance existing problems (Eg. the radiator).

I had my tank installed in the spare wheel well and got on average 250 miles per tank. (Not an issue for me as I have 2 LPG stations within 5 miles of my work)
I do not have a valve lubrication system installed as I was informed (rightly or not) that the 2.0L turbo block did not suffer from the soft valve seats.

Now I recently put my forester into a ditch after a large puddle jumped out in front of me from nowhere, shortly after this I blew the bottom radiator hose and overheated the engine, resulting in a suspected(99%) Head Gasket Failure. I have no reason to suspect that this has anything to do with the LPG as for all I know the Head Gaskets are still the originals. Depending on how much time I have, I'm going to try an pull the engine to replace the HG's and inspect the valve seats for recession. I will post any results in order to help prove or disprove the LPG Myths if I am able to do so.

I would say that today with the modern LPG sequential injection systems, and a quality installation there should be no issues running on LPG. I would certainly look for someone local, who has done an EJ25 before and who uses respected LPG Kit.
 

Best of luck to you, whichever route you take.

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I go reading way quite a lot to a place I'm not allowed to disclose lol well I can tell you but will have to kill you 

m4 you need a strong clutch mate so opt for a auto ! 

 

I've just got rid of my Octavia (2012) tdi did 60mpg and I thrashed it ! Great car 

but if I had to spend 1500 quid on a mile muncher .... Vauxhall omega 2.5 td my reasons are :

1. I've had 2 v6 and we're an amazing car to drive and own 

2. My dad had 2 before me when they were kinda new and he loved them 

3. Parts are cheap 

4. The td lump is a BMW engine so will run forever 

 

or you could find some lpg ones ! Mv6 prodrive edition is a weapon ( normally black 3.2 v6 manual ! ) 

 

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I have seen older legacies/foresters etc for sale on eBay/gumtree with lpg already installed and from memory I don't think the price is that much higher than one without lpg.

There is a small reduction in tax but I believe it was something silly like £20.

I think with the hybrids one of the arguments was also where they got materials from as well and the environmental damage from shipping all those materials from around the world to one factory, plus the lifespan of the batteries themselves and the cost of new ones to be fitted

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Just one thing that might be overlooked. You mentioned you will travel to sw London. Not sure where, but I believe there are take (might be in place all ready) about allowing diesels into London. Also I know there are certain restriction of what cars are allowed inside the m25. Might wanna check that out before anything else. Older subarus might not meet the requirements.

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20 hours ago, Swayze88 said:

Hello,

I have a EJ205 Forester XT standard 177 bhp, which I had converted to LPG in March 2015  ~35,000 miles ago.
The car has now done around 178,000 miles, so was far from perfect when the installation happened.
Since owning the car I have tried to do oil & Filters every 7-8,000 miles and have Changed the plugs once.

...........................

 

Best of luck to you, whichever route you take.

Actually, your experience is the sort I see quite regular, whether the car has been converted to LPG or not. Please don't think that I was laying the blame of component failure on LPG. The valve seats can suffer but other things that go wrong are just incidental.

What I was getting at is that you could pay £1500 on an LPG conversion and then nothing goes wrong with the motor. But if stuff starts to go wrong, the budget is blown anyway. No one can tell what sort of "journey" they are in for when they buy a used car. But normally, as age and mileage increases, there is more risk and the cost of repairs outweighs the benefits of the LPG conversion.

Agreed, as the components that fail could happen to any car, it is difficult to equate one to the other. But all I am saying is that budget motoring is difficult because when they are new / newer, depreciation kills them, when the they are older / cheaper to buy, maintenance can become a headache. 

This is partly why I have difficulty with placing something on the car that is supposed to save you money - when you don't know what the outcome is. 

 

The only thing that is happening at the mo in London is that Khan is looking at an extra charge for passenger cars from Oct 2017. It is in consultation at the mo and that finishes in Feb 2017. It could be nothing happens if the consultation proves out to not be favourable. But if it is successful, all pre 2005 or pre Euro IV will have to pay an extra charge. They won't be banned but obviously when you consider an extra tenner a day to drive in to London or if a resident of London, an extra £2 per day on top of the £1 per day today, you effectively reduce their desire. 

 

 

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  • 1 month later...
  • 8 months later...

So... the other week, my water pump failed, shredded my timing belt and caused a fair whack of bent valves.

On the plus side, it has given me the opportunity to remove my first engine and learn some new ways to become frustrated.

The engine (EJ205) had around 50k miles on LPG and did not have valve saver/lube so if anyone is intererested in what the valves look like then I'd be happy to post up some pics as I remove more. as you can see the inlet valves on the right had side have taken a bit of a thump.

I'm not sure if the level of carbon build up is fairly standard for a 185K+ car or if it has been increased by the LPG or the fact that for the final few miles of its life I think the timing had slipped at least one tooth.

59efba853b4da_EJ205Valvea.thumb.jpg.2d982f86141a18a6e5416353c68f478d.jpg

 

Anyway, if it is of interest, let me know what you want to see and I'll do my best to pull take pictures.

59efbc9801a16_EJ205Pistons.thumb.jpg.9ded1611b9b8b33afe374d93df9e457c.jpg

 

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