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Looking for recommendations on next CNG vehicle

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  • Looking for recommendations on next CNG vehicle

    After many years and 370k miles, it's looking like it's time to retire my trusty Crown Vic.
    Here's why:
    -Expired tanks
    -Lack of 3000psi stations
    -Needs new ball joints, shocks, tires, rear main seal, AC is broken, headliner, etc.
    -Growing and active family - would like a bigger vehicle

    Its been good to me, but it seems like it's time to move on.. unless someone has a source to get it re-tanked for cheap. Someone recommended I just slap a 3600psi receptacle on and keep rolling but that sounds like a recipe for disaster.

    I'm looking for any recommendations and advice from the group.

    First and foremost eligibility for a CAV white sticker is a must, so it's got to be something from CA DMV's list:

    So far, the front runner in my search is a dedicated E-150/250/350.
    Here's why:
    -White Sticker eligible
    -Seats 4+
    -Seems to be a fairly proven platform
    -Good parts availability

    Just wondering if I'm missing out on something else that might be better suited for the job? Any recommendations are greatly appreciated.

    I'm concerned about the overall size and how easy it will be to fit in the cramped parking garages in DTLA, Santa Monica, that work requires me to visit.
    Not sure if a Class 3+ trailer hitch will fit.. heard that the tanks might be in the way. Can anyone confirm?
    Is it tricky to do routine maintenance? Is something like replacing an ignition coil difficult? I like to do my own wrenching when possible.
    Not sure what model year is best. Is 2004 the last of the factory conversions? Should I aim to get a factory dedicated over a later model BAF converted vehicle?

    Totally open minded and sincerely appreciate any and all replies.

    Thanks for any help and advice!

  • #2
    Friend of mine just ordered a 2017 F250 crew cab, seats 6 and meets their familys towing and cargo needs. Dedicated CNG with 50 GGE capacity.(31 in the bed, 19 under-body)

    65K for the truck but it fills many needs and has incredibly range.


    • #3
      Westport-Wing Ford truck conversion speaks for itself. It is actually a dual fuel setup using diesel instead of spark plugs to ignite CNG:

      As for BAF, thousands out there and A-1 Auto Electric in Fresno CA is an authorized installer:

      Comments from owners I know:

      I do not believe any of Ford's have manual switchover capability from gas to CNG - something I wanted and why chose the GM/Chevy version.

      Employee of a refuse company that bought Silverados asked what other CNG trucks were available because the Silverados were not working well.


      • #4
        For clarification, I believe the Westport link above is for the HPDI large engine using LNG which goes on Class 8 trucks.

        For California HOV lane white stickers you will need to have a dedicated CNG system, the models per the link on the opening post.


        • #5
          Thank you all very much for taking the time to respond and share your knowledge!

          That 2017 F250 crew cab sounds like the most amazing CNG vehicle I've heard of. I had no idea 50 GGE was even possible! I would love to be able to acquire one of those, but unfortunately my budget is <10k. Sorry, I should have mentioned that earlier.

          So far, for that price range I'm finding:
          -High mileage (300-400k) late model (2008-2014) retired super shuttles.
          -Lower mileage (100-150k) earlier model (1998-2004) privately owned vans

          Is there one of these that is a safer bet? As I understand it, tanks degrade as a result thermal expansion/contraction from fill cycles. At 400k miles I have concerns about tank safety even though they are within their expiration date. Is a lower mileage older tank 'better'?

          Also looking for advice on which conversions have stood the test of time. I had great luck with my factory conversion in my Crown Vic. I've heard mixed reviews from the BAF conversions in the Crown Vic/Town car. Not sure if the same applies to the Vans. Is there one that has a better reputation, still in business, easy to get parts? Sorry, I'm a little out of touch with the current state of the industry.

          The Chevy/GMC vans are great (I've logged some miles in a G3500 regular gas version) and prefer it over the Ford.. but only found 1 dedicated CNG in the Tulsa area. I heard their conversion (Impco or Teleflex?) is supposed to be top notch.

          Finally, I'm also looking for suggestions on where to search?
          So far, I've tried:

          ..anyone have any other good resources?

          Thanks again for your help and insight! This forum is a tremendous resource, it's really challenging to find anyone who knows about CNG!


          • #6
            you have a dirt bike on the back of a Crown Vic??


            it's really hard to find a white sticker, 4-5 passenger vehicle that fits a class III hitch under $10k (btw, I LOL'd pretty hard at the $60,000 truck suggestion). Most of them will be BAF conversions from out of state of questionable reliability. The only real suggestions I have are:

            -find another CV or swap the tanks on yours - best blend of price/use/range
            -camry's will be 5 passenger (200-250 mile range) and sub $3,000 but will need a tank swap and will only handle a 200lb tongue weight on a class 2 hitch. At that point you might as well get a civic (better range) because in both cases, you'll need a trailer...
            -Ford Fusion energi - $13k - you will need a trailer; but I would gladly take the comfort/space of a green sticker sedan + trailer at that price point vs. $25-$50,000 F250 on CNG
            -rare - Ford Escape CNG dedicated will pop up - will have CA HOV sticker, 5 passenger mini-suv, and you can likely fab up a moto mount on the back but last time I checked, most were class 2. Less range than camry/civic. Last one sold on CL ~$8,000 IIRC
            -Ford Transit connect - these are *starting* to pop up on CL to the consumer market as they fall out of fleet use. They appear difficult to sell and sit on CL awhile, so a $10k offer may likely be possible if someone is asking $12,000. You can get a class III hitch for this! Downside - ugly. I think this is your 2nd best option to another CV.
            -there's a mid 90's dodge caravan for less than $1,600 on CL right now - you will likely need new tanks and plenty of vehicle maintenance. Old. Limited range. Seats 7 though..
            -Chevy Yukon - converted w' sticker...can get with leather/power options...some 3rd row seat/7 passenger...usually limited range...usually $15-$20k
            -Chevy Silverado 2500 extended cab dedicated w' sticker - I've seen 2 in the last 5 years pop up - white sticker, 6 passenger...last one listed at $10,000. Limited range (120-180 miles)
            -dedicated pre-2015 F150 converted - will be out of state, last one sold $25,000
            -Toyota Rav 4 electric - no idea on range/years/price...the one on CL right now is $19k...range 120 miles, and no charging stations out in the desert.

            If you're heading out the desert/Vegas I'd recommend one with some range...another CV/tank swap, a Transit Connect, or green sticker ford fusion Energi would top your list. Or buy a dedicated CNG commuter (camry...later model CV) then a $1,500 pickup for moto

            To see pics/ads of the aforementioned vehicles, check out my thread here:

            I ran an '01 dedicated F150 for moto for 4 years...

            sold it and the other dude is still driving it a year later. I now run the extended cab 6 passenger (well, 3 comfortable adults...6 seatbelts very tight) F150 pictured below. Was about to buy a house, saw the truck, and had to have it. No regrets; used it a ton as a truck. I can't drive a regular cab again...never selling this one.

            I have the same needs...

            Last edited by CNG F-150; 09-11-2017, 12:54 AM.


            • #7
              Wow! What a well thought out and informative post! Thank you very much!

              Yup, that's a WR250F on the back of my CV. I'm using an UltimateMX hauler and Airlift1000 kit with Bilstein shocks. Although its getting the job done, I got to admit I check my rear view frequently, especially when on the rough roads to the good trails!

              Looks like you've got some seriously fun toys as well.. and man what rare and great truck you found! Can you please find another?!? haha! All the dedicated pickups I've seen are always regular cab.. really wish there were more dedicated extended or crew cabs out there. Any tips on where to find one?

              Still rolling the Crown Vic for now and trolling craiglist and all the auction websites but it seems like the inventory for dedicated CNG vehicles has been really slim lately.

              Drove a regular gas Transit Connect for a bit and was not impressed.. not nearly as solid feeling as the body on frame V8 trucks I'm used to. plus I totally agree with you on it's ugly factor.

              Definitely need a truck or van because my son is getting to big for his XR50. We'll need something to haul 2 full size bikes soon.

              You make a good point.. maybe it's best I get a cheap truck for moto and that way I don't need to search for such a rare CNG truck.. plus less range anxiety when headed to the desert.

              Thanks again for your advice and please let me know if you ever see another truck like yours or something similar for sale!


              • #8
                found mine on craigslist!

                actually - I met the guy the first time, in a home depot parking lot and waited for him to come out to talk to him about it LOL. when I saw it on craigslist, we re-united and I bought it the same day.

                I'll be honest - for 2 bikes, a pickup truck or trailer is the easiest option. You might be able to throw a front hitch on the CV and put a bike on either end; but now things are just getting unsafe.

                Any reason you don't want a trailer for your CV?

                even a newer/lower mileage CV + trailer will be cheaper than any dedicated CNG truck you find

                Otherwise, a dedicated commuter + truck looks like your best option...the good thing about driving out to the desert with a straight gasoline truck, is that you will likely have your son and can use the carpool lane anyways. I just hate paying registration and insurance on 2 vehicles...budget ~$800/year just to keep the 2nd vehicle...which then - isn't it easier to rent a pickup truck at $80/day? As long as you don't go more than 10 times per year, it's cheaper to rent than own.

                and for reference, the dedicated CNG silverado extended cab trucks I found on craigslist and GoBestAuto in Corona.

                wish you could get one of these! sound great with any magnaflow or flowmaster!

                Last edited by CNG F-150; 09-13-2017, 04:13 PM.


                • #9
                  Nice find! What model year is the Chevy?
                  We're going to have to change your CNGchat user name


                  • #10
                    That one is not mine!!

                    That's an example of what I have seen on Craigslist... it's actually a 2004 Silverado 2500 dedicated CNG extended cab

                    I still have an 01 CNG F150 extended cab


                    • #11
                      Have you considered that 1995 Dodge Caravan on Craigslist?

                      $1,600 but only has a range of 160-180 miles...may be better with another tank in the trunk (losing most if not all trunk space) but will seat 7 and you can always take out the middle seat for more cargo space


                      • #12
                        If you get a CNG Dodge Caravan just make sure the old tanks are/were replaced.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by CNG F-150 View Post
                          Have you considered that 1995 Dodge Caravan on Craigslist?

                          $1,600 but only has a range of 160-180 miles...may be better with another tank in the trunk (losing most if not all trunk space) but will seat 7 and you can always take out the middle seat for more cargo space
                          Those old caravans often can't pass a california smog inspection, failing on NOX, and nobody makes a cat converter that meets CARB standards for that model. IIRC, the CA smog check programme allows for a one time waiver if parts to repair are unavailable in the opinion of the referee , but the waiver cannot be used on a smog inspection related to a vehicle sale.


                          • #14
                            eek...I don't buy vehicles that can't be fixed from an emissions parents had to junk a great running gasoline camry for that reason in MA (needs annual or bi-annual inspection)

                            OP - I say another crown vic or keep looking...


                            • #15
                              bi-fuel extended cab!!


                              but sadly, no CA HOV white sticker...