A new car, an engine light, a smell and 18 garage visits

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MartinH32

A new car, an engine light, a smell and 18 garage visits

#1 Post by MartinH32 » Wed Dec 03, 2008 8:06 am

I originally decided to convert my car to LPG for one reason - I do 230 miles a day and it was costing me a fortune to get to work and back.

I was looking for a new car at the time and always liked the look of the new Mini. So, I decided to purchase a petrol version and then get it converted to LPG.

I purchased the car in December 2007 and after doing significant research and phoning various LPG installers and check the LPGA, I visited a local installer to show him the car and talk about the conversion process.

Converting the car was a huge risk for me. The car was brand new out of the dealership, had a three year warranty which would be effected by the conversion and was on a PCP with the understanding from the dealership that after the agreed term I would remove the system if the car was to be returned to the finance company (not needed if it was a part ex or I paid the balloon payment)

The garage I visited fitted the new system, showed me the relevent LPGA certificates, discussed where to put the filler / tank etc and generally sounded very knowledgable regarding the whole conversion process. Filled with confidence the car was booked in with only 2000 miles on the clock. This was in January 2008. I write this in December 2008 and if someone now gave me the choice of a buying the car again and converting I would without question be going for a diesel model and not touching LPG with a barge pole, even with the cost savings of LPG taken into consideration.

To put it bluntly, the car has been back to various garages all to do with the LPG conversion 18, yes 18 times. The problems experienced initially were back firing, the car would not switch over to gas when cold, would not idle correctly and the engine management light would flash on. When confronted with this my knowledgable installer would take the car in for a day (sometimes more) and again return it to me ‘perfect’ and tested. One of the times I returned it he blamed ‘dirty fuel’ for one of the problems. Every time I went back to installer, he was all smiles and promised to get things sorted.

Eventually I lost all faith in the garage that undertook the conversion and contacted the distributor of the system directly as it was either them, trading standards or a refund. However, I did desperatly want this to work. Being fair all round it is worth pointing out that the injectors that were originally supplied to the installer were too big and this explained some of the issues I was facing.

However, I don’t believe my installer had the tools or the inclination to sort out the majority of the issues and certainly did not like to elaborate on any fixes he made to the car.

To be honest, at the time, the distributor restored my faith in LPG and the customer service they provided couldn’t have been better. I spent a very informative day in their workshops with their engineer looking into my problems. One of which involved redrilling the inlet manifold so the gas was injected closer to the valves. The injectors were found to contain debris from what looked like the cutting of the rubber LPG pipes. Following this the car was tuned and mapped whilst on the road.. I have not had an engine light issue since.

However, this was not the end of my problems. The car had several coolant leaks that were all down to the conversion.

In addition to this, the car had started to exhibit a nasty smell of gas that would work it’s way through the ventilation system. During stops at traffic lights and traffic jams the smell could at times get unbareable.

The smell has been driving me mad for six months and I took it back to the supplier of the kit for them to look at it. They couldn’t find a problem and after numerous visits put it down to a hot ‘plastic’ smell. Taking it to another LPG garage they insisted it was a problem with my aircon gas that was leaking (needless to say Mini checked this – and charged me for looking at it as it wasn’t leaking). The third garage thought it was a burning oil smell. Good to know they know the smell of their own product!

So, I took it to Kwik Fit just to check it wasn’t an exhaust problem (two different kwik fit garages actually) and no, the exhaust as expected on a new car was fine.

I also took it to an independent garage and told them I had a smell of fumes to which they came back after examination to say it was a gas smell!!!!

Two weeks ago I got to the end of my tether and I had the system ripped out.
Guess what, the smell has GONE!!

As a word of advice to anyone thinking of converting a car. When I add up the costs to convert, besides the initial installation, the car has travelled over 1200 miles to various garages and back, I have taken three days off work, (luckily not more as I can work from home) paid a garage to fix two different coolant leaks. It’s starting to add up. I have also lost the engine part of my warranty so I have needed to take a seperate warranty. I have also needed to take additional breakdown recovery as the Mini recovery will only take me to a dealer, which obviously do not cover LPG. I took out independent GAP insurance on the car but needed to research to check that it would still be covered following the conversion.

This whole experience has been a very costly mistake. I’m sure the vast maority of LPG garages know how to install a system. The problem comes in identifying and solving problems when things go wrong as in my experience very few are mechanically minded or have any idea of the impact the system makes on the rest of the car.

I would say for anyone looking to jump into converting:
1. Do your research on your installer THOUGHERLY
2. Get examples of work completed on the car you are converting.
3. Ask yourself, even with the increase in deisel, would this not be a better alternative.

You could say I feel very bitter about the wohle experience. I am, never again!

recardo
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#2 Post by recardo » Wed Dec 03, 2008 11:41 am

sorry to hear of your unfortunate experience. I have to concur that I doubt I would go to the expense of having a car converted unless it was someone like Rossko from here (but too far away).

I must say tho I'm quite happy with my car (factory conversion), I'm 3rd owner so didnt pay the extra! although I too have a gas smell that cant seem to be traced/fixed.

Still seems like the LPGA is too lax on its members and does not do anything to encourage excellence....

M.S.R

#3 Post by M.S.R » Wed Dec 03, 2008 5:53 pm

Did anybody do a LPG Leak Test using a Detector? Which system did you have fitted and where from? You found on your visit to the distributors workshop that the Installer did not tap the holes into the manifold as close to the Petrol Injectors as he should have done so did you not ask the distributor to fix the conversion? Im sure the distributor would have done a Leak Test if you were complaining of a gas smell?

I would strongly agree with 1 & 2:
1. Do your research on your installer THOUGHERLY
2. Get examples of work completed on the car you are converting.


3. Ask yourself, even with the increase in deisel, would this not be a better alternative.

The only advantage with diesel would be that its been around alot longer than LPG so its already had problems ironed out.

LPG is currently 49.9p where diesel is around £1.04, Insurance can go cheaper with LPG (Mine did), Emissions are alot cleaner with LPG, Engine oil lasts alot longer therfore Engine has less wear & tear internally, LPG is a Higher Octane Fuel then Unleaded therefore alot more performance compared to Diesel, the more the LPG Industry develops the less problems are likley to arise unless you get a bad conversion done by someone who thinks they know what they are doing...

If you didnt go with an established LPG Kit thats been around for longer than 5 years then i would assume the Kit will have problems as testing is required for the components to be as reliable as possible. Even the like of BRC & Prins will have faulty components from time to time as its impossible to manufacture 100% reliability. The other thing could be that the installer fitted the components incorrectly therfore causing them to fail?

MartinH32

#4 Post by MartinH32 » Thu Dec 04, 2008 12:49 pm

Hi,

A leak test was done and it didn't pick up anything specific - but I and my wife could smell it. The fact that the smell has now gone speaks volumes!

I would love to tell you which system but from fear of all things legal I'd best not. Needless to say it is a popular system. It is on the approved LPGA list of systems and has been around for a number of years.

I'm not sure the installer had much idea about the car. As I got different opinions regarding adding a Flashlube and if I should use it or not!

As for the deisel, a friend at work as a deisel mini which is doing over 60pmg compared to 36mpg that mine did on LPG.

Active_Lad
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#5 Post by Active_Lad » Thu Dec 04, 2008 2:24 pm

MartinH32 wrote:A leak test was done and it didn't pick up anything specific - but I and my wife could smell it. The fact that the smell has now gone speaks volumes!
Well you obviously can't have a leak from something you don't have, so it's no surprise the smell has gone. :wink: That said, you said nothing "specific" was found. Does that mean they didn't detect gas at all, or they could detect gas but couldn't find the source?
MartinH32 wrote:I'm not sure the installer had much idea about the car.
Mistake number one then.
MartinH32 wrote:As for the deisel, a friend at work as a deisel mini which is doing over 60pmg compared to 36mpg that mine did on LPG.

You were probably always on a hiding to nothing. If you look through the forums here, you'll see the majority of us are tooling around in big-engined cars with a drinking habit. We prefer petrol performance over diesel but don't like the cost, so an LPG conversion makes sense. Buying a new petrol Mini over a diesel and then converting to LPG was never going to make sense in my book unless you wanted a suped-up Cooper S or something like that. Plus, I would always be very cautious over converting a brand new car. Not only are there the warranty issues, you also have to ask yourself why you bought a new car in the first place and then immediately spend a lot of money making changes to it when there was a viable alternative i.e. the diesel?
Proud to have a "Gas Guzzler" :-D

jalfrezigazee
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#6 Post by jalfrezigazee » Sat Dec 06, 2008 8:57 pm

I think you should have done more research and found this website while you still had the gas installed. I run a pair of 2.0L turbo cars on gas. Boith converted from brand new, one has 106k on it and the other 23k now. I bought a Prins kit and had it fitted locally at a reputable installer. Of all the quotes I got the Prins was the most expensive and it has paid for itself with lots of spare change. You really should name the converter and the kit fitted to yor car as otherwise your warning is a compete waste of our time

MartinH32

#7 Post by MartinH32 » Tue Dec 16, 2008 12:53 pm

I did plenty of research, visited the installer, called several other installers. Checked up on the make of the kit and everything seemed fine.
The install wasn't taken lightly.

If I could name the installer without fear of a few official looking letters popping through the door, I would.

jalfrezigazee
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#8 Post by jalfrezigazee » Tue Dec 16, 2008 1:54 pm

If you can prove the installer was at fault then name away, there is nothing they can do from what is printed on the internet if they are at fault

billynoband
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#9 Post by billynoband » Tue Dec 16, 2008 2:06 pm

jalfrezigazee wrote:I think you should have done more research and found this website while you still had the gas installed. I run a pair of 2.0L turbo cars on gas. Boith converted from brand new, one has 106k on it and the other 23k now. I bought a Prins kit and had it fitted locally at a reputable installer. Of all the quotes I got the Prins was the most expensive and it has paid for itself with lots of spare change. You really should name the converter and the kit fitted to yor car as otherwise your warning is a compete waste of our time
Where did you buy the Prins kit from pretty please?

junkcatcher
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#10 Post by junkcatcher » Sun Jan 11, 2009 8:05 pm

Important note

The smell was probably NOT related to the gas conversion

According to an article in Car Mechanics 2 or 3 months back

BMW Mini dealers know the latest generation of he new Mini has a smell problem --- some cars develop a strange aromma after they have a few miles under the belt and so far BMW can't track down the source.

I would guess the cause could be down to a few things, slipping drive belt, cluytch, dual mass flywheel bacteria in the ac/heater ducts, over heating wiring or the exhaust catalyst.

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