You Have Your Diesel Car Running On Vegetable Oil For Less Than $2000
If you're tired of high gas prices, you may be pleased to learn that for only a couple thousand dollars, you can have your diesel vehicle running on vegetable oil. Do-it-yourself gas misers and environmental enthusiasts have long trumpeted the many advantages that vegetable oil conversions have over running on conventional diesel. Although these types of conversions have been around for eons, they never seem to gain any mainstream traction despite rave reviews from the folks who are driving on free, clean cooking oil.
Cars running on vegetable oil
It's not a joke, a scam or a trick. The fact of the matter is, if you put liquid vegetable oil through a diesel engine, it will run. People all over the world have been quietly converting their smoky diesels to get them running on vegetable oil for years. There is no evidence that it will have any major effect on your engines life span. Any diesel car or truck can be converted waste vegetable oil (WVO) but some are better candidates than others.
What's the best car to convert?
It's difficult to answer this question. Running on vegetable oil presents a unique set of challenges no matter what you drive. Your driving needs will ultimately dictate what you choose to convert. Obviously a new car will use less oil than an older car, just as the case is with diesel or gasoline. Early 1980s Mercedes-Benz cars are favored for WVO conversions because their fuel injectors are very tolerant of viscous and/or slightly dirty fuel. It's worth considering however, that newer engines require much cleaner fuel and will not tolerate any amount of debris left in the cooking grease. This means that if you are running a newer car on vegetable oil, you had better be very sure you've filtered the grease really, really well. I would choose an older car as they don't require the fuel to be as perfectly clean as a newer diesel but that's just my opinion. Follow your heart on this one, drive what you like.
Is it legal?
In some places, yes. In America...not so much. The US Environmental Protection Agency has deemed that running on vegetable oil as fuel contravenes the Clean Air Act. Choosing to risk it could potentially earn you a fine of almost $3000. This is utterly ridiculous as WVO burns cleaner than diesel or gasoline. That having been said, it's legal in many, many other countries and there are hundreds, likely even thousands of converts in the US driving their cars on WVO. Although the fine is huge, the potential for being tracked down, caught and fined for such an offense is really quite low. Still, check the laws in your area and convert at your own risk.
Is running on vegetable oil better for the environment?
In a word, yes. WVO burns clean without any sulfur and lower quantities of other harmful emissions. Consider also that we don't have to drill into the ground or ocean to get the stuff and the massive amount of emissions and environmental risk that comes with it. The exhaust that your car will produce running on WVO typically smells like the food that was previously cooked in the oil, kind of a cool experience.
How to get your car running on vegetable oil
You will have to buy a kit to convert your car or truck. There are several companies online selling these kits. It is possible to install the kit yourself but if you don't have any mechanical skill you may choose to have a mechanic that you trust install it for you. The kit consists of a tank, fuel lines, a valve to switch between diesel and WVO, a heater for the WVO tank and a gauge.
Kits are typically sold with everything you will need to convert your car or truck. There are however, a couple of things to keep in mind.
1. Your vehicle will still need diesel
Your car will still need to have a diesel system (sad, I know). Unfortunately, when WVO falls below a certain temperature, it begins to thicken and can clog up your fuel lines and engine. It is important to get the engine to operating temperature on diesel fuel and then switch to WVO once it has heated as well. It's a small price to pay.
2. You will need a place to filter and store your fuel
Some people choose to install a filter setup on their car. This allow the WVO to be put in just as it is and filtered on it's way to the engine. Most people however, use an external filtering setup and pump the WVO into the car once it's cleaned of food debris. The people who sell these kits also have filtering stations but with a little ingenuity (and Google research), you can design something yourself.
There are a couple of negatives when running on vegetable oil. It is a hassle to filter the grease and fuel your car with WVO and diesel. There is the potential for legal trouble as well. On top of all that, you will need to find restaurants willing to fork the stuff over to you. This is typically not difficult as they have to pay to dispose of it. Most restaurant owners are happy to offload an expense and it's a win/win. Naturally, some owners may look at you with a blank stare when you tell them you want their WVO because your car is running on vegetable oil. They may think you're trying to scam them somehow and refuse. This is no problem, just move on to the next place.
Still interested in getting your diesel running on vegetable oil? Your first step is to do tons of research and make sure that it's something you want to commit to. There's long-term work involved with obtaining and cleaning the fuel. If you decide to go ahead however, running your car on vegetable oil is a satisfying, clean experience. Want to take clean driving to the next level? Learn how to build an electric car!
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