How to Convert a Vehicle to Electric

by Contributor

With gas prices soaring, the attraction of alternative fuels is also rising. This makes electric cars very attractive. Luckily, with the right equipment, you can convert most gas vehicles to electric right in your own garage.

Plan Your Conversion to Electric

Choose a vehicle to convert to electric. Generally, a manual transmission is more efficient, but the choice is yours. Make sure that the car can support an extra 200 to 500 lbs.

Find a covered area to work on your car. The conversion can take upwards of 2 months, so make sure you have a place available for the entire length of your project.

Check your equipment. Most conversion kits come with the parts, but you will need basic power tools along with a torque wrench, cable crimpers and engine crane. Rent any equipment you do not own to lower your budget. Hire someone else to handle the welding if you do not have the proper supplies and know-how.

Buy a conversion kit and battery. Basic kits without batteries can be extremely expensive. To save money, you may buy used parts separately, but a kit will make the job much simpler.

Pick up a copy of "Convert It," by Michael Brown at, if it does not come in your conversion kit (see Resources below). A must-have for do-it-yourself conversions, this book offers detailed diagrams and photos to help with every step of the process.

Convert Your Car to Electric

Remove the original gas components, and clean the engine compartment to prepare for conversion.

Assemble the motor according to the directions in your conversion kit. After assembly, lower it into the engine bay, and bolt it to the transmission.

Hook up a 12-volt battery to test the engine. With the tires off the ground, run through the gears and rotate the tires to make sure everything is functioning properly.

Install the new heater in the vehicle. Without gas, you will need a heater that runs on electricity.

Bolt the engine to the frame of the car using the motor support that comes in a kit. You may also need to add a torque bar to support the engine in rear-wheel drive vehicles.

Place components close together as you install them in the car. These include the controller, converter, potbox and contractor.

Mount the front and back battery packs. The front usually contains about 6 batteries, while the back contains 10. Batteries should be protected from damage and the elements.

Wire the car according to the instructions in your kit. Basic wiring also includes a charger interlock that keeps you from driving off while your car is still charging.

Plug in your car, and charge it to be on your way to a cleaner, more inexpensive drive.


  • check Measure the vehicle's ride height prior to the conversion, so you can adjust the suspension accordingly upon completion.
  • check Label all wires and parts before removing anything from the vehicle. This makes finding the components needed for the electric motor easier.

Items you will need

About the Author

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