1987 Chevy Suburban Biodiesel Conversion

I have a 3/4 ton 4x4 Chevy Suburban that I would like to convert to biodiesel. The present utility of this vehicle- building, hauling, and camping- is only outweighed by the cost of its present 350 gasoline engine. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I was wondering if there was anybody out that that has already done this conversion and who would be willing to share their knowledge? Leonard.Isenberg@gmail.com

Try this site: http://www.biodieselnow.com/

They say you don’t need to modify the engine to run biodiesel. You would need to modify the fuel system to run straight veggy oil, since it is hard to burn before the engine is fully warmed up, and there are no additives available to prevent it from gelling.


Leonard has a gasoline engine in his Suburban. I doubt if you could convert that to bio diesel without replacing the engine. It is true that you can covert many diesel engines to bio-diesel without too much work, but not gasoline engines.


I suspect it would be easier and cheaper to sell your Suburban and buy one with a diesel engine and sell yours.

Sorry, I skipped that part. Yes, the engine would have to be Diesel to begin with. A gasoline to Diesel conversion is possible, but not cost effective, especially for an '87 Suburban. There are Diesel suburbans out there that probably could be bought cheaper than converting this one to Diesel.

Agree; this is a pipe dream. I just attended a biodiesel meeting where a presentation was made of elaborate tests with biodiesel. The professor who gave the presentation was asked what cars ran best on high concentration biodiesel (10% or more) and they were the older version of the Golf and Rabbit diesels who had a precombustion chamber, which could handle the rich mixtures.

As a professional I want to save you untold grief and frustration, and huge costs, trying to do what you are planning. As others point out you have to start with a diesel. Most diesels will run well on concentrations up to 5%, but the bio part will eat up the standard tubes and hoses on the older engines; so those would have to be changed.

When you see a guy in the news burning deep fryer fat, it is nearly always an older Volkswagen diesel. The GM early car diesel was a dismal failure; the newer ones used in trucks and Suburbans are better. You could buy one of those used, and it would not cost much to make it run on biodiesel.

Just don’t try to stop off at MacDonals and try their oil cooking oil. Your injectors will plug up after a few days, and the injector pump will have difficulty as well. When the weather turns cold you have anew set of problems with he high concentration of bio.

For the sake of the environment, even a low 5% bio will clean up the exhaust to where it will smell better and there will be very little soot.

I agree that trying to go from gasoline to biodiesel wouldn’t be the easiest or cheapest or most sensible thing to do.
In Leonard’s situation, if he really is keen on going clean(er), I’d suggest propane/natural gas. Though I’ve never done a conversion, I’ve read up on them, and it doesn’t sound terribly difficult or pricey (especially if the engine is carbureted).

You need to swap in a 6.2L diesel. They were an optional engine for this year truck, so it’s an easy and very common swap. Find a cheap 2wd parts truck with a good engine, and that should have everything you need. Tons of info here: www.coloradok5.com

I though I already responded to this one??? Maybe I’m loosing my mind.