Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Best cars for biodiesel

We’re thinking of buying a diesel to run on biodiesel. We’d love to get a light-duty pick-up, but that as a diesel option doesn’t exist here in the US. Does anybody have good experience with running their car on it, or know of some good online resources to add to our reseach?

Are you talking about biodiesel you get from a pump (B5, B10, etc), or are you talking about going around to restaurants and getting/cleaning up their used cooking oil?

A Mercedes Benz diesel sedan from the 1980’s will burn pretty much anything.


we have a few local businesses and co-ops that process the waste oil into biodiesel, then sell it…eventually, i’d like to be collecting the oil and processing it myself, but that’s at least a year off from now. we have no biodiesel at the pump here in CT. well, not that i know of.

You need to get some info on this, normally using cleaned-up waste oil requires a fair amount of modification, with dual fuel systems for starting and stopping using regular diesel.

i think you’re talking about waste oil that hasn’t been processed. Biodiesel is the waste veggie oil (WVO) that has been filtered, cleaned, and processed chemically – which is easier to DIY than one would think. Biodiesel can be run in a diesel engine at “full strength” (B100) or a blend on petro diesel and biodiesel, like B20. I put up the initial post because some diesels like it better than others…

OK - folks sometimes confuse WVO with biodiesel. You’ll get lots more response in a biodiesel forum, like this:


Some modern diesels don’t take to bio as well as others and can have problems with it. I would be sure to verify that any car/truck I was considering was one that is OK for bio, further that it be the bio you might have access to.

Remember that continued supplies of your raw bio may not be consistent. You may end up using commercial diesel more often than not.

That is not to say it is a bad idea.

Hey, Mike: these guys specialize in biodiesel:

I’ve seen a few Mercedes conversions - unfortunately, I’ve also heard horror stories of motors TRASHED by using waste oil - which is why you see quite a few “used” biodiesel conversions on Craigslist!

Well, here’s that biodiesel/WVO confusion again. Greasecar specialized in vegetable oil conversions, not biodiesel. Seems like the tradeoff is biodiesel, once made from vegetable oil, is somewhat compatible with some existing diesels, while vegetable oil required quite a bit more up front vehicle conversion costs, but then you don’t need to convert the vegetable oil to biodiesel.

Some folks make biodiesel out of vegetable oil with a process using several dangerous chemicals.

Before I got too committed to this, I would VERIFY that you had a reliable source of biodiesel fuel available. Many people ASSUME there is a supply available when in fact, there is not…

DIY??? Processing used fry oil into diesel fuel produces a considerable amount of “waste” that must be disposed of. Don’t ASSUME that will be easy or cheap…

Hi. Generally speaking, for non pickups VW’s and Mercedes’ seem to be the favorites. I think the ideal car for biodiesel, is the Jetta Station Wagon from 2003 (or between 2000 and 05). Beautiful car, high mpg.

But for pickups, the choices are limited. There are small diesel pickups from Toyota and Nissan and others, but are rare in this country. I opted for a VW Rabbit Pickup from the 80’s. These are readily available. Try ebaymotors or craisgslist. A good one should cost between $4000 and 8000. I love mine. I’ve had no trouble stemming from the biodiesel.

Their advantage is extremely high mpg (about 45) and easy conversion to biodiesel by exchanging the fuel lines with Viton hoses. They can use biodiesel without the hoses switched, but the hoses will degrade eventually. Make sure you get one that is an original diesel engine version. I made the mistake of buying a gas to diesel converted one, which means nothing is according to factory specs and the mechanics are often bewildered. Disadvantages: small cab, two seater, hard suspension, loud motor, etc.

See my blog to see how many other mistakes I made (and fun I had), etc. It also explains the difference between biodiesel and WVO/SVO.

I don’t know where in CT you are, but in NY there is tri state biodiesel where you can just fuel up. I haven’t tried them, but they seem to be a very professional outfit.
Fueling stations in the US:
or try craigslist for smaller retailers.