Perhaps you are already trying to leave a smaller environmental footprint by recycling and switching to renewable sources of energy to power your home, but want to kick things up a notch by eliminating your contribution to that cloud of smog everyone chokes down each day. Maybe you simply want to avoid soaring gas prices that slowly drain your wallet. No matter what your motivation might be, making the switch to vegetable oil enables you to significantly reduce your dependence upon fossil fuels as well as contribute to a cleaner air environment.
Converting to vegetable oil is not without its challenges, however, which is why you will have to gain a more intimate understanding of the way your vehicle works. Those who are interested in strengthening their automotive maintenance skills, however, will find the experience more enjoyable, though some mechanics will do the work for you. Still, it’s best to do it yourself since this will equip you to handle problems that may arise while on the road. Transform your gas guzzler into a veggie-powered green machine with the following steps:
Step 1: Get a Diesel Car
Unfortunately, this is what deters most people who want to switch to veggie oil, since many non-commercial vehicles on the road – especially in America – don’t have diesel engines. Fortunately, today’s diesel fuel emits significantly less sulfur and offers much better mileage, which is why you will see more new models that take advantage of these benefits. For now, most veggie oil users stick to German cars or American trucks and SUVs.
Step 2: Install a Conversion Kit
While biodiesel can be used immediately, vegetable oil requires a conversion kit before it will work for your engine. The kit heats the oil to the proper temperature and also comes with an additional gas tank. Depending on model of your car, you may also have to make further modifications such as extending the fuel lines, which is why having an original car owners manual for your vehicle will come in handy. The price of a kit also varies, though most users should expect to pay about $2,000.
Step 3: Make Friends with a Local Restaurant
Sure, you can use oil from the grocery store, but why pay more for fuel when you can get it for free? Each day, restaurants use up gallons of cooking oil that they have to dispose of legally, usually through a service that charges them a fee. By making friends with the restaurants in your area, you can help them with their problem as well as solve your own. Make sure, however, that you are using non-hydrogenated oil because other types will gum up your engine.
Step 4: Prepare the Oil
Unless you want to spend several hours removing soggy French fries from your engine, you will have to filter any used vegetable oil before pouring it in the tank. You can use part of your garage or basement to set up a processing station, or team up with friends and neighbors to create a shared space. The filtering process is fairly easy, and generally involves heating the oil and then pumping it through a filtration device into another tank. Many veggie oil fanatics are more than happy to share their processing secrets, so you can search online for additional tips.
Step 5: Drive
Now it’s time to enjoy the reward for all your hard work by driving a vehicle that is not only carbon neutral but also offers better mileage per gallon. You also get to enjoy the odor of French fries instead of the noxious fumes your car used to produce, as well as experience the pride that comes with improving your community.
While maintaining your veggie-powered vehicle requires a bit more TLC to keep the fuel lines and engine free from debris, anyone with a car owners manual and a love for DIY projects should have no trouble finding the time for additional tinkering, especially since diesel engines last longer and require less maintenance in general. Going green with vegetable oil, then, can be a great way to test your mechanical know-how while lightening your conscience.
Photo by Alfonso Surroca