Converting Diesel Vehicles to Use Vegetable Oil


I was reading this month’s issue of Wired tonight when I came across Veggieburners, an article about how you can modify any diesel engine to run on used or fresh vegetable oil. It says that the conversion process is really easy and there are even DIY kits by a Los Angeles company called Lovecraft.

I am so not mechanically-inclined, but the idea is pretty thought provoking. I definitely think I’d do it if I had the right kind of car, especially if I still lived near my mom in Virginia. She currently works two full-time jobs in two different restaurants. I could be swimming in used fryer fat for free!

Just imagine that for a second. Free biodiesel. No skyrocketing gas prices. An incredible individual step to protecting the environment. Huge.

According to Lovecraft, Mercedes, Volkswagon and Ford are the best choices for conversion. They go on to cite these three specific vehicles:

Mercedes Benz 300SD, 1981-85
Blue Book Value: $3200
Conversion Cost: $700

Volkswagon Jetta TDI, 1996-2006
Blue Book Value: $3800-$8950
Conversion Cost: $950

Ford F250 Diesal Truck, 1995-2000
Blue Book Value: $6325-$12,900
Conversion Cost: $950

I am actually really surprised at how reasonable the conversion costs are. I also can’t believe that more green-minded diesel owners don’t take advantage of this opportunity, so I did a little internet research on the negative impact and found out a few interesting facts:

1. Fresh Vegetable Oil can cost about 30% more than diesel and a man was recently fined in North Carolina for using biofuel.

2. If the vehicle’s warranty is still in effect and a problem occurs (even non-oil coversion related), the manufacturer may refuse to honor the warranty.

3. According to one British driver, “The only noticeable draw back of using vegetable oil as fuel that I found on the journey, was its negative affect on my diet. With having appetising smell of frying food following me around all the time I found myself regularly nipping into chippies on route for my meals, with the result that I had developed quite a belly by the end of the journey.”

Hmm…I guess I’d still find Biodiesel pretty darn attractive.

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4 thoughts on “Converting Diesel Vehicles to Use Vegetable Oil

  1. Okay. Sorry, Emily! I was reading (and thus typing) Amy Ruppel’s name while attempting to type your name. I’m a dork!

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  4. Look up biodiesel conversion on There’s a lot of information about converting used vegetable oil, and how to safely use it in your car.

    I wouldn’t worry about the warranty. If it wasn’t the veggie oil, they’d find another reason to void the warranty if there was a big problem. #3 is the greatest worry for me. Always smelling fries… I’d have to eat some!

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