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From Gas Guzzlers to Propane Hogs: Pros and Cons of Propane-Powered Cars

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Propane Tank
Photo: Patrick Feller

If you’re a car enthusiast, you’re no stranger to the world of alternative fuel — we’ve showcased everything from algae-source biofuels to cars that run on coffee grounds. But have you considered driving a propane-powered car? Here’s what the experts have to say on the matter.

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  • Reliability: While you probably see more electrified vehicles than propane burners, gas-powered machines have been cruising the streets for years. Commonly used in fleet vehicles like school buses and police cars, propane has been proven as a reliable fuel source. Since it’s a gas when it enters the fuel system, it’s practically immune to the cold-start problems that liquid fuels face.
  • Environmental concerns: Propane-fueled vehicles produce fewer pollutants than their traditional gasoline counterparts. Specifically, propane puts out less ozone, carbon monoxide, lead, and sulfur. There’s also less pollution from fuel evaporation since the fuel is sealed in a tank.
  • Convenience: Unlike electric cars, which can take hours to charge completely, it’s easy to gas up with propane. The process is very similar to fueling a gasoline-powered vehicle. It’s less flammable than gasoline, too.


  • Costly conversion: Most cars don’t come off the lot ready to accept propane power, which means you’ll have to convert an existing vehicle. This can quickly become an expensive project, so be sure to do plenty of research before you undertake such a big project.
  • Bulky tanks: Just like those massive propane tanks you’ll find outside of houses, a car’s propane tank is also quite heavy and large. This can lead to a reduced payload. Furthermore, since, propane is a less-dense fuel than gasoline, your car will burn through it more quickly. That means you’ll have a reduced range and more visits to the pump.

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Source: AFDC, It Still Runs