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Who All Uses BioDiesel for Their Truck?

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  • Who All Uses BioDiesel for Their Truck?

    We have a 1995 Ford F-250 7.3L Turbo Diesel and have access to a local fuel company that also sells biodiesel. We are very interested in switching to biodiesel but are just in the infancy of learning about it. So, edjumacate me!

    I know that you have to replace the oil filter quite a few times after switching over, but how often after that?

    Are any mechanical modifications required before filling up with biodiesel for the first time?

    Anything else you care to share, have at it. I'm an info sponge Thanks
    <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.

  • #2
    Have no earthly idea... but am interested in the topic and hope the resident COTHers have the answers.


    • #3
      We looked into it as it's available at the local farm co-op, but it was running $1/gal more than petro-diesel at the time so we abandoned the idea.


      • #4
        I don't use it personally as I don't have a diesel vehicle, but I have several friends who do. There is no difference to the engine in biodiesel or regular diesel, so no modifications are needed to use it. You can purchase a converter that will let you run your truck on straight vegetable oil. You are correct that you will have to replace your filter often when you first switch--my understanding is that the biodiesel will loosen up old sludge and deposits.

        I'm a big supporter of biodiesel, but I would recommend researching it online--there's a lot of good information out there. It's a great thing, but there are some definite downsides. One of the major ones is that it slushes up in cold weather, so even in NC, many people use 50/50 bio/regular diesel in the winter. You can mix it at any percentage, but without a heater or keeping the vehicle inside in the winter, you will probably need some regular diesel in there to keep it liquid.

        Go to www.biodiesel.org, it has some good info.


        • Original Poster

          Thanks Pookah. I did see the info about it gelling in colder temps. Our truck does plug in each night. Also I just heard that SA White (the local distributor) will automatically adjust the mix whenever you fill up to match the drop in temperature.
          <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


          • #6
            Originally posted by ChocoMare View Post
            Thanks Pookah. I did see the info about it gelling in colder temps. Our truck does plug in each night. Also I just heard that SA White (the local distributor) will automatically adjust the mix whenever you fill up to match the drop in temperature.
            A plug-in heater is great for the engine but if the fuel gells in the fuel tank...???

            Look at your owners manuel and see what it says. It might not address the problem. If that is so then look at some of the diesel pickup forums. There will be lots of opinion, and maybe even some fact, to help you out. *

            It's an open question right now on just how biodiesel will perform as it can be made of many different materials with different formulations. I don't think that there's really a "school" answer.


            *If you think horse people are opinionated and engage in "full contact posting" wait 'till you see THAT crowd.
            Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


            • #7
              That's awesome that they will automatically adjust the mix for you! Always seems like a lot to think about for me :-). I would love to use alternative fuel that is produced domestically, but unfortunately I also had my heart set on a Mini Cooper, which isn't available in the US as a diesel (interestingly, because they would not be able to sell them in CA, and it cuts out too much of the market to make importing viable). At least I'm using less fuel, I guess!

              I think it's a great option for towing vehicles; we as horsepeople are pretty tough on the environment.


              • #8
                I don't remember what year the manufacturers switched, but you may have to change any rubber fuel lines to synthetic. One of the many truck forums can tell you. The Bio is a solvent and once the old fuel system is cleaned out by using it filter changing should be back to normal. I was ready to convert everything to it, including swapping engines in ski boats, when fuel was 4 bucks a gallon but the pressure eased as the price came back down.


                • #9
                  I have almost the same truck as you --- 1996 F250 with the 7.3L diesel. My mechanic just told me NOT to run Biodiesel in it but that is was OK to run Bio in my old 1982 diesel Mercedes. I live in Northern CA where Biodiesel is all the rage and at all the gas stations (my husband used to make it in our barn!) and so many mechanics are starting to see vehicles that have been running it a few years --- and any problems it causes. We have run anything from B20 to B99 (20% bioD or 99% biod)

                  I was also running B99 in my diesel tractor, but had it serviced recently and mechanic told me to switch back to petrodiesel. He had to flush out the tank because it was full of crud. He thought it's because I fill the tank and it sits a lot since I don't use the tractor daily.

                  I'd say talk to someone that is a diesel mechanic who is BioD friendly and can advise you about your specific vehicle.


                  • Original Poster

                    Ah WF, that's exactly what I was looking for.... info on those who have seen longer-term use effects.
                    <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


                    • #11
                      also in NorCal

                      My Ford dealer told me I should only use 5% Biodiesel in my 2001 7.3.

                      so I don't use any
                      A man must love a thing very much if he not only practices it without any hope of fame or money, but even practices it without any hope of doing it well.--G. K. Chesterton


                      • #12
                        Hubby has been using Bio Diesel in all of our vehicles for about 3 years now. During the summer he uses 75-100% depending on the vehicle. During the winter, (cold Canadian winters), he uses 5-10%. We have a '95 Dodge 2500, a '97 Jetta, an '87 Mercedes Benz wagon and a 2004 Dodge 2500. We even use it in our tractor.

                        Hubby processes his own. He's devised a pretty fancy set up out in the "man building". Some oil sources are quite dirty and require heating and washing, while other sources are so clean that he uses the oil completely unprocessed. We have had the odd bad batch, but very rarely.

                        He hasn't made any modifications to any of the vehicles, but does keep an eye on the filters.


                        • #13
                          I looked into it too and here's the (incomplete) batch of stuff I learned:

                          You need to start using regular diesel and then switch to biodiesel after your truck is running. You definitely need two tanks.

                          No one could tell me about total costs (buying and maintaining a truck, including mpg) of bio- versus regular diesel.

                          No one could tell me about how much power I might lose with biodiesel.

                          The dude in my area who would do conversion kits also sold filtered vegetable oil. You could, I suppose, get that and filter it yourself from restaurants. But I wondered whether my fuel source would remain cheap, and easily attained in the small town were I was in Central, NY. He seemed to have a nice, vertically-integrated business going on. I wasn't sure I would become his b*tch by brining my truck into his veggie oil empire.

                          I was also under the impression that biodiesel was a viable option only in the warmer months. And could I find it away from home? Or would I be on a short leash if I wanted to use both of my truck's tanks?

                          All this made me think that the cost of converting my truck to biodiesel or veggie oil wasn't worth it.
                          The armchair saddler
                          Politically Pro-Cat


                          • #14
                            We've got a 1990 F350 and I ran several tanks of B20 from the Navy Annex Citgo near the Pentagon a couple years ago when the prices skyrocketed. I didn't do anything out of the ordinary, just ran the fuel. It's more expensive than "regular" diesel the last time I checked and an 18 mile round trip out of my way so I haven't gone back in a long time.

                            Truck ran noticeably better on it, though. I think newer vehicles need more caution.

                            Anyone can purchase alternative fuels from Navy pumps, don't have to be DOD personnel. That's handy.
                            "If you would have only one day to live, you should spend at least half of it in the saddle."


                            • #15
                              Note that there is a difference between biodiesel and WVO (waste vegetable oil).



                              • #16
                                For anyone who is concerned about finding bio-d away from home, I'd suggest you check out NearBio.com. The good people at the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance put it together, and has a nifty feature where you can "draw" your route along a map and it will pop up all of the stations carrying bio-d along your route. They even have a mobile version for your cell



                                • #17
                                  Also note that there are different types of biodiesel available. If you make it yourself, more power to you. The commerically available "bio" diesel is often made with palm oil and soybean oil, so if you are thinking of switching for a perception of increased environmental soundness, don't use that. Huge plam/soy oil plantations are being put in place of native rainforest all over South America to supply the biodiesel industry, releasing heaps of sequestered carbon and creating a vegetative monoculture in the place of what was once diverse habitat. So, obviously, I'm not a fan of that one. But DIY or better sources -- go get 'em!

                                  Also note that placing "bio"diesel in your tank will break down deposits and "clean" your tank and fuel lines out and all that crap will end up in your fuel bowl and elsewhere, so you don't want to just dump a whole tank of "bio"diesel in there all at once!
                                  Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                                  Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                                  We Are Flying Solo


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Tom King View Post
                                    I don't remember what year the manufacturers switched, but you may have to change any rubber fuel lines to synthetic.
                                    Originally posted by Watermark Farm View Post
                                    I have almost the same truck as you --- 1996 F250 with the 7.3L diesel. My mechanic just told me NOT to run Biodiesel in it but that is was OK to run Bio in my old 1982 diesel Mercedes.
                                    Yeah, check out what the fuel lines in the Mercedes are made of ... My ex's BIL had a Mercedes diesel of about that vintage and I remember looking at the engine, it was a work of art.
                                    "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

                                    Spay and neuter. Please.


                                    • #19
                                      Works fine in my 1999 Ford 350


                                      • #20
                                        I used 100% bio diesel when I could get it and it improved MPGs by nearly 50%. Incredible. It has a higher cetane and greater lubriciy than diesel fuel. I wish I still had my source! WHY they can't make it commercially I hve NO idea...use algae, or meat trimmings (fat) or other "garbage". I really WISH I still could get 100%bio diesel.
                                        The thing about smart people, is they look like crazy people, to dumb people.