NGVConnection Newsletter - February 2014


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Invest in Training to Control Vehicle Repair Costs

By Annalloyd Thomason, Vice President/General Manager, NGVi    

As more heavy-duty natural gas vehicles (NGVs) roll out into fleets, the cost of maintenance becomes even more critical, yet an often overlooked or undervalued necessity is adequate technician training. Using natural gas as a transportation fuel is more economical—especially in the medium- and heavy truck market—and those favorable economics are the primary driver behind the decision many fleets make to convert to natural gas. However, favorable economics can easily be diminished or wiped out altogether if maintenance costs increase unnecessarily. What can cause this increase? Typically, it’s a lack of technician training.

Not understanding how to diagnose technical problems on a natural gas vehicle can cost thousands of dollars per vehicle. Maintenance costs can also be increased because fuel system component failures caused by improper maintenance are not covered under warranty.

Medium- and heavy-duty NGVs are very different from diesel vehicles, and technicians must be trained on the properties and characteristics of the fuel itself as well as the fuel system. First and foremost, natural gas is a gaseous fuel—not a liquid—and it does not behave like diesel.  Perhaps the most significant difference for technicians to work with is the fact that natural gas ignites via spark ignition, not compression ignition, and the fuel is harder to ignite than diesel. In addition, high-pressure fuel systems on heavy-duty CNG vehicles require different safety and service procedures than diesel vehicles.

Many times, the problems that technicians are trying to diagnose are caused in the fuel system and not the engine. For instance, coating of carry-over oil from the fueling station can cause incorrect sensor readings, which results in many different and serious driveability issues. Filter service requirements are different than those most technicians are accustomed to and filters may not catch ALL the oil in a fuel system. Improper engine oil selection and service intervals can cause engine component failure. And improper coolant service and fill procedures can cause both driveability issues and components failures.

So what are the major issues that technicians usually are not trained to address? Oil carryover is perhaps the single most serious issue and can cause multiple problems, including stumble on acceleration, lack of performance and misfires. Misfires cause overheating of the convertor regardless of the root cause. Contamination, lowering catalyst efficiency, can lead to clogging, increased exhaust backpressure and power loss. In extreme cases, vehicles become nearly undriveable. When compressor oil is present in fuel, it can result in pre-ignition, detonation and engine damage. Technicians must understand these problems and more importantly, how to diagnose and repair them.

Other common problems might include hard starting, too frequent spark plug replacement and poor fuel economy. Technicians must be trained on the NGV ignition system operation and diagnosis. They must fully understand voltage drop analysis and diagnosis—often a weak point for traditional diesel technicians. And they must be trained on determining the root cause of misfires and how to diagnose them. 

If technicians are not adequately trained, there are serious economic impacts. First, if technicians don’t know how to diagnose root problems, they usually replace an entire component. This is expensive and unnecessary. The parts most frequently replaced due to the lack of training include spark plugs, fuel and exhaust sensors, coalescing filter elements and three-way catalytic converters. This may not sound too serious at first, until you consider that each three-way catalytic converter on the Cummins ISLG engine series costs about $23,000.

Investing in technician training for medium- and heavy-duty NGVs is just that—an investment that helps protect the long-term favorable economics of using natural gas vehicles. Proper training reduces maintenance cost, reduces vehicle downtime as well as increases technician safety and confidence. And in the long term, it’s an investment with a very short payback.

NGV Industry Calling for Adoption of Diesel Gallon Equivalent

By Kasia McBride, Marketing Manager, NGVi

More and more heavy-duty vehicle fleets are making the transition from diesel to natural gas. Because of this, it is imperative that natural gas is sold in a way that allows retailers and heavy-duty vehicle operators to easily compare it to diesel.

In January 2014, NGVAmerica distributed a “Call to Action” to natural gas companies, fuel retailers, state advocates, fleets and the trucking industry, asking them to support adoption of a national diesel gallon equivalent (DGE) unit as a standard for compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The new standard would serve as a measuring method for presenting the relative cost of natural gas compared to diesel. This would provide retailers with a convenient way to highlight the economic benefits of natural gas, and allow users to clearly understand the savings associated with the fuel. Creation of a DGE standard would complement ongoing efforts to base the fuel taxes on CNG and LNG energy equivalents, which are themselves derived from diesel energy content. Allowing easy comparison with diesel fuel would not only improve accounting for trucking fleets and fueling station owners, but also help facilitate increased natural gas use for the trucking industry.

The current standard for measurement of both CNG and LNG, adopted in 1994 at the National Conference of Weights and Measures (NCWM), is a gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE).

The NCWM Natural Gas Vehicle Steering Committee is currently reviewing the DGE standard adoption issue. The committee is developing a proposal which will be available for voting later this summer at their annual meeting.

Under this proposal, the DGE standard would change the way CNG and LNG are priced and dispensed at the pump. Since LNG is exclusively used by heavy-duty vehicles, it would only be sold in DGE units. However, CNG would be sold in both GGE and DGE units, depending on whether it is sold at public retail stations, truck stops or other outlets serving heavy-duty vehicles.

According to NGVAmerica, there is a lack of consensus among NCWM members on moving this issue forward. As a matter of fact, several state officials do not support adoption of a DGE unit or the continued use of the GGE unit as the primary methods of selling natural gas. Despite strong industry opposition, these officials propose to require that natural gas be sold in kilograms. It would be the only transportation fuel in America sold in metric units. The proposers advocate that the metric system would apply eventually to all fuels, but currently the only fuel under consideration is natural gas.

Converting the sale of natural gas to kilograms has many drawbacks. “The proposal is not only discriminatory but will put natural gas at a significant disadvantage to other fuels by creating confusion for consumers who are not used to purchasing motor fuel in mass units let alone kilograms. This standard will increase the cost of new pumps and it will impose costly retrofit of existing pumps,” adds NGVAmerica.  

For more information, or to voice your opinion, contact your state’s weights and measures official(s) by going to, or reach out directly to the weights and measures NGV Steering Committee at

To read the full version of NGVAmerica’s “Call to Action” letter regarding NCWM DGE Standard, click here

NGVi Brings Natural Gas Vehicle Expertise to 2014 TMC Annual Meeting
By Kasia McBride, Marketing Manager, NGVi

Natural Gas Vehicle Institute (NGVi) gears up for the TMC Annual Meeting & Transportation Technology Exhibition, the premier technology marketplace focused on truck technology and maintenance. The conference will be held March 10-13, 2014 at the Music City Center in Nashville, TN.

In booth #1804, NGVi training and customer solutions team members will be available for one-on-one conversations about attendees’ existing or planned CNG or LNG programs. In addition, hands-on technical demonstrations with NGVi’s head instructor and Training Manager, Paul Pate will be conducted in the booth.

One of the most frequently overlooked elements of successfully integrating CNG or LNG into a truck fleet is the need for natural gas specific training. Technicians who are accustomed to working on diesel or even gasoline trucks need to understand the significant differences between natural gas and those fuels, and how to diagnose and solve problems that more likely will occur in the fuel system than the engine. This makes an in-depth understanding of how natural gas behaves, as well as the components of the natural gas fuel system, critical.

NGVi offers the only ASE CASE-accredited comprehensive training on CNG and LNG vehicles, ranging from basic safety training for technicians and all fleet operations personnel, to advanced maintenance and diagnostics training for technicians. Three levels of training programs for technicians and operations personnel include:

  • Technician and Fleet Operations Safety Training – one-day class that teaches both technicians and fleet operations personnel what they need to know about safely working in and around natural gas vehicles.

  • CNG Fuel System Inspector Training – two-day class that prepares technicians to conduct the federally-required CNG fuel system inspections every three years, 36,000 miles or after any fire or accident exceeding 5 miles per hour.

  • NGV Heavy-Duty Maintenance and Diagnostics Training – a three-day intensive course that teaches technicians how to properly diagnose and correct operating problems that occur anywhere between the receptacle and the tailpipe of heavy-duty vehicles.

For conference attendees who are thinking about integrating natural gas into their fuel mix, NGVi will also be available to discuss maintenance facilities modifications that are required to repair natural gas vehicles.

CNG Fuel Price Report
From Clean Cities Alternative Fuel Price Report published by Argonne National Laboratory for DOE's Clean Cities Program

Overall Average Fuel Prices (as of October 2013)


Nationwide Average Price for Fuel This Report

Nationwide Average Price for Fuel Last Report

Change in Price This Report vs. Last Report

Units of Measurement

Gasoline (Regular)




per gallon





per gallon





per GGE

NGVs and CNG in the News

Freightliner's Team Run Smart PRO Will Deploy Cascadia 113 Natural Gas

Sizable State Grant Program for Alt-Fuel Vehicles Opens Next

Corridor Clean Fuels Selects ANGI Equipment for Its Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Station in Dothan,

LA Metro Debuts Initial Batch of an Order of 550 Compressed Natural Gas

NGVAmerica Counts America’s


To read more, click here.

Upcoming Training from NGVi

Heavy-Duty NGV Maintenance and Diagnostics Training

March 25-27, 2014
South Plainfield, NJ  

Three-day course that prepares technicians to understand the operation, maintenance, diagnosis and repair of heavy-duty natural gas vehicles.


NGV Technician and Fleet Operations Safety Training

April 15, 2014 | South Plainfield, NJ
April 29, 2014 | Long Beach, CA

One-day session that teaches you the elements involved in the safe maintenance practices, fueling procedures, and operation of NGVs.


CNG Fuel System Inspector Training

April 16-17, 2014   | South Plainfield, NJ 
April 30-May 1, 2014  | Long Beach, CA 

Two-day session that provides you with the proper techniques for inspecting CNG fuel systems, including on-board compressed natural gas fuel storage cylinders.



Click here to Register

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Upcoming Training

Level 1: NGV Essentials
and Safety Practices

August 21, 2018
Atlanta, GA

Level 2: CNG Fuel System
Inspector Training

August 22-23, 2018
Atlanta, GA

Level 1: NGV Essentials
and Safety Practices

September 11, 2018
Boothwyn, PA

Level 2: CNG Fuel System
Inspector Training

September 12-13, 2018
Boothwyn, PA

Essentials of CNG Station Planning,
Design and Construction

September 24-25, 2018
Las Vegas, NV

Essentials of CNG Station
Operation and Maintenance

September 26-27, 2018
Las Vegas, NV

Level 1: NGV Essentials
and Safety Practices

October 2, 2018
Sacramento, CA

Level 2: CNG Fuel System
Inspector Training

October 3-4, 2018
Sacramento, CA


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About NGVi

Natural Gas Vehicle Institute is North America’s leading provider of training and consulting on natural gas as a transportation fuel.

Our services address the full range of natural gas vehicle and fueling issues, including:

Technical consulting services – Sizing and designing compressed natural gas fueling stations, vehicle assessments and technical assistance for fleets, CNG fueling station troubleshooting, natural gas vehicle maintenance facilities upgrades, liquefied natural gas fleet and fueling management.

Technical training – NGV Essentials and Safety Practices, CNG Fuel System Inspector Training, Heavy-Duty NGV Maintenance and Diagnostics Training, Light-Duty NGV Maintenance and Diagnostics Training, CNG Fuel System Design and Installation Training, Essentials of CNG Station Operation and Maintenance Training, Essentials of CNG Station Planning, Design and Construction Training and CNG/LNG Codes and Standards Training for Fire Marshals and Code Officials.


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