Running Your Car Off Of Vegetable Oils

Running a car off of vegetable oil sounds like one of those ideas that just shouldn’t work out once you actually try it, like a childhood dream of combining two things you love that simply can’t go together.

Believe it or not, you can run a car off of vegetable oil, but there are some things you should know before you grab a bottle of Wesson Oil and head out to your gas tank. Straight vegetable oil (the kind you buy at the grocery store) or waste vegetable oil (the kind leftover after they make the fries) can be used to make your car run. Many environmentally conscious drivers choose to go the waste vegetable oil route since it is essentially, as the name implies, making use of what would otherwise be “waste.”

What Car Companies Make Diesel Vehicles?

The car must be diesel-powered and some modifications must be made since vegetable oil congeals when it gets cold. There are companies that sell kits and vehicles that come already converted. Most car companies are getting away from diesel engines, but Volkswagen, Jeep and Mercedes continue to manufacture new diesel passenger vehicles sold in the United States. However, not every state will allow the sale of diesel vehicles due to pollution regulations.

What Will I Need?

Two tanks are required. There will be a tank for diesel fuel you would normally use and a separate tank for the vegetable oil.

– The tank with the vegetable oil will need a metal coil to transfer heat from the engine’s coolant.
– The car must be started on diesel fuel. Once the vegetable oil has been warmed up enough, the driver can switch to the tank with the veggie oil.

What Important Info Do I Need To Know?

It is important to switch back to the diesel before turning the engine off and let the engine run long enough to purge any vegetable oil from the car’s fuel system. If this step is skipped, you will end up with clogged fuel lines and injectors. This will result in a whole new set of problems that could end up costing significant amounts of money in repairs.

Keep in mind that vegetable oil is not a certified fuel, so if you are stocking up on vegetable oil from the grocery store or waiting for the fry guy to dump the oil you may have some explaining to do. On a positive note, it is safe for the environment, but has not been officially certified by the EPA yet. The other difficulty some environmentally conscious folks have reported is that when the emissions from these vehicles are actually tested, it’s hard to actually get an accurate reading since the current testing technology is not designed for this type of fuel source.

Another point to consider is that your vehicle warranty will no longer be valid. You won’t be increasing the performance of your vehicle, but you won’t be hurting it either. From the standpoint of car insurance groups, there is no real harm in running of the earth friendly fuel.

What Are The Benefits Of Vegetable Oil As Fuel?

• You will get the same miles per gallon as petrodiesel

• Vegetable oil does reduce tailpipe emissions and is a renewable resource

• Vegetable oil is generally produced in the U.S., so reduced dependence on foreign oil

• Vegetable oil will result in lower toxins released into the air, as well as reduced soot emissions over traditional diesel fuel

Vegetable oil will not hurt your vehicle if you make the modifications correctly and remember to switch back to diesel before turning the engine off. Straight vegetable oil is a better choice and a better solvent over petro-diesel. It would be a good idea to replace hoses and rubber gaskets if you plan to make vegetable oil your primary source of fuel.

In general, vegetable oil in your car is a good way to save some money and help the planet at the same time. It will take some effort to get your vehicle ready for veggie fuel, but if you put in a lot of miles on the road it could pay off in the end.

[Mark Thomas is a contributing writer for CheapestCarInsurance.org. Image: J Deamer at Flickr.]

One thought on “Running Your Car Off Of Vegetable Oils

  • I think the biggest advantage of using vegetable oil is that it will reduce the amount of toxins released into the air. Now-a-days, saving environment has become one of the major issues and is really important to take care of these things.


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