How to Convert Your Old Gas Guzzler Into an Electric Vehicle On the Cheap

If you're like me, you love the idea of driving an electric vehicle but don't want to shell out the cash for a brand new EV. Converting an old gas-powered car into an electric vehicle can be a great way to go electric on a budget. In this comprehensive guide, I'll walk you through everything you need to know to convert your old gas guzzler into an EV yourself.

Choosing the Right Donor Vehicle

The first step is picking the right gas vehicle to convert to electric. Here are some things to keep in mind:

For my conversion project, I chose a 1992 Honda Civic hatchback. The light, rear-wheel drive Civic was the perfect candidate!

Sourcing Electric Car Parts

Once you've selected a vehicle to convert, it's time to source the main EV components:

All in, I spent around $6,500 on parts by buying mostly used or DIY equipment. Not bad!

EV Conversion Process Step-By-Step

With all your components gathered, it's time for the fun part - the actual vehicle conversion. Here's an overview of the process:

1. Remove the Engine and Fuel System

First, remove the existing internal combustion engine, radiator, exhaust, fuel tank, and other unnecessary equipment. This drastically reduces weight.

2. Install Motor Mounts

Bolt the electric motor and transmission adapter plate into the engine bay. I had to fabricate custom mounts.

3. Install Batteries and Wiring

Run heavy gauge cable from the batteries to the motor controller, and lighter wiring to accessories. Take time to properly fuse and insulate everything.

4. Plumb Vacuum Lines

Hook up the electric vacuum pump to provide vacuum for the brake booster. Essential for braking!

5. Add Charger, DC-DC Converter etc.

Mount the battery charger under the hood, and find spots for the DC-DC converter, gauges and other components.

6. Finish Wiring

Complete final wiring and connections - the devil is in the details here. Double check your work!

7. Test Components

With everything hooked up, test each component before a test drive. Verify connections and troubleshoot issues.

8. Get It Inspected and Registered

Finally, obtain a basic inspection and registration to legally drive your EV conversion!

While condensing the many complex steps into a few paragraphs, you get the idea. With diligent research, sourcing and some mechanical skill, converting a gas car to electric is very achievable.

Key Benefits of a DIY EV Conversion

Once complete, an electric conversion provides some awesome benefits:

For a few thousand dollars in parts and some elbow grease, I was able to build a zippy electric hatchback that costs barely anything to run. Who needs a Tesla??

While EV conversions take some upfront effort, I found the project incredibly worthwhile. Not only do I save money, but I'm also reducing my environmental impact. What could be better? Converting your old beater into an electric vehicle is challenging but ultimately very rewarding.