The author knows a lot about cars and motorcycles, especially older and more affordable ones.
With the recent interest in alternative fuels, especially waste vegetable oil, many people wonder which vehicles are suitable to be converted to run on these fuels. While many diesel-engine vehicles are available for sale in the U.S., not all of them are suitable for a conversion to run on waste vegetable oil.
Here are some car models that are good candidates for conversion, some truck models that are good candidates, some models that have features that could interfere with conversion, and some suggestions for models that may be converted.
Common Easy-to-Convert Cars
These diesel cars common on the streets of the U.S are also the easiest to convert to vegetable oil fuel.
Volkswagen has a great reputation for reliability and longevity with their diesel engines. These are the Volkswagens that are recommended for WVO conversions throughout the industry. The earlier models can be found for very little money and will run for a very long time if they are looked after. The Vanagon was only offered in the U.S. with a Diesel for the 1982 model year, which makes them somewhat hard to find and unusually expensive when in good condition. Dasher and Quantum models are not all that common, but they are out there, some parts on these two models are hard to find due to there relative obscurity. These cars are workhorses and with the exception of the turbo models, won't get you anywhere fast.
- 1977-1984 Rabbit, Jetta, Vanagon, Dasher, Quantum
- 1984-1992 Golf, Jetta, Quantum, Passat
- 1996-1999.5 Golf, Jetta, Passat, New Beetle
- 2002-2003 Golf, Jetta, Passat, New Beetle
2. Mercedes Benz
Mercedes Benz was also very well know for the robustness of their diesel engines and manufacturing quality. Their cars of this era are blessed by unusually cheap parts and wonderful parts availability. As far as drivablility goes, they are leaps and bounds above Volkswagen's offerings for the same time period.
- 1965-1968 200D
- 1968-1973 220D
- 1973-1983 240D
- 1975-1985 300D (TD, SD, and SDL)
Common Easy-to-Convert Trucks
These are some common diesel trucks that are good candidates for conversions.
These trucks seem to be available everywhere and for very little money. But can be very hard to find one in good condition; most of them were run into the ground as work trucks. These trucks are not very fast, and they are pretty loud.
- 1983-1994 6.9L and 7.3L. Used in F250 and F350 trucks, Econoline Vans, and Light Commercial Trucks.
These trucks are great. The 5.9L Cummins motor is considered the best offered in the U.S. during this time period. They are known as 1,000,000 mile motors due to their longevity. These trucks are incredibly strong. Many people bought these trucks for recreational purposes when they were new, which means that examples in great condition with four-wheel drive are fairly common. These generally fetch a higher price than the equivalent Fords from the same period.
- 1989-1993 Cummins 5.9L 12 Valve 1st Gen VE Rotary Injection Pump
- 1994-1998.5 Cummins 5.9L 12 Valve 2nd Gen P7100 Inline Injection Pump
Common Vehicles with Known Issues for Conversion
These common vehicles are not recommended for WVO conversion because of these known issues.
- 1994.5-1997 Powerstroke 7.3L
Reason: Stock fuel filter issues.
- 1999-2003 Powerstroke 7.3L
Reason: Fuel routing issues
- 1982-2000 6.2L/6.5L
Reason: Injection pumps famous for catastrophic failure when using WVO!
- 1999.5-2001 1.9L TDI
Reason: Known for hit or miss quality on early 4th generation models.
- 1998.5-2002 Cummins 5.9L 24 Valve
Reason: VP44 injection pump does not hold up to WVO.
Here are some other vehicles offered with diesel engines in this country. These are by no means all of them, just some that may pop up in your search. I have left larger commercial vehicles off the list.
- International. Scout available from 1976 with SD-33 Nissan Diesel, 1980 With SD-33T Nissan Turbo Diesel
- Toyota. A very few 40 and 60 Series Land Cruisers are around with diesels in them. Most are Grey Market. No 80 Series were imported to the U.S. with diesel engines, although some private owners have performed conversions. Pickups were available with 2L N/A diesel and 2LT turbo diesel engines; these optional engines were cancelled in the U.S. in 1985.
- Isuzu. Isuzu "P'up" pickup trucks pop up from time to time with diesel engines. I have come across a few early Troopers with diesel engines; I'm not sure if these were official imports or grey market.
- Peugeot. These cars are by no means common in this country. If you look hard enough, you can find a few 504's and 505's with diesels in them. I can't vouch for quality though.
- Land Rover. Older series models only; newer models were only imported with gas engines. Numerous Discoverys, Defenders and Range Rovers have had diesel conversions performed on them by owners using genuine LR parts, but these are generally considered emissions illegal.
- Jeep. A few early model XJ Cherokees were sold with the 2.1L Renault diesel engine. Definitely not known for quality, most of these died a slow painful death a long time ago. Some 2005-2006 Liberty models were sold with a 2.8L VM Motori diesel engines; these got good reviews. I have been told that they are not candidates for WVO but time will tell. Grand Cherokees were available for 2006-2007 with a Mercedes Benz OM642 3.0L V6. I have also been told that these are not good conversion candidates.
- Mercedes Benz. Mercedes has offered a lot of diesel-powered vehicles in this country aside from the ones listed above.
- Volvo. I have stumbled onto a few 240's with diesels and heard rumors of 760's but have yet to see one in the U.S.
More Information on Converting Vehicles to Vegetable Fuel
- SVO Conversion
- Arctic Vegwerks
- Greasecar Vegetable Fuel Systems
Greasecar Vegetable Fuel Systems allow mechanically injected diesel vehicles to run on straight, filtered vegetable oil. Vegetable oil is a cleaner, safer and less expensive alternative to petroleum based fuel.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2009 ttravis5446
Kikapoo on April 20, 2019:
I have a 87 jeep comanche pioneer. Lol will that work
Bennett on June 06, 2018:
My grandpa has a 2003 GMC sierra and whenever we see him he always complains about diesel prices, would veg oil work in his truck?
Richard on March 05, 2017:
2006 dodge ram280000miles on truck.candidate for w.v.o?
art on March 05, 2015:
i have Chevy Cruz 2014
and 8 months its go on svo -i spent for 2 months 50 $ on fuel only !
Alexander Silvius from Portland, Oregon on October 26, 2013:
It's good to know about the 82-00 Chevys because I would like to take a CUCV and convert it to veggie. I wonder if it would be possible to put a different manufacturer brand fuel pump in. But I also admire the old Mercedes diesels, and it seems like they are actually very reliable vehicles. Thank you!
kevin on March 28, 2013:
Im considering buying a gmc box truck with a 4 cyl. isuzu engine in it. Do these motors convert well to run on wvo?
Chuck on March 29, 2012:
$8,900 OBO RUNS ON DIESEL OR WASTE VEGETABLE OIL
Will consider a trade for a truck!
1998 Chevy Suburban 2500 LT four wheel drive runs on Diesel and Waste Vegetable Oil. Vin # 3GNGK26F5WG128293 170,000 miles
Black with gray interior, leather seats, 3rd row seat, rear barn doors, roof rack, power windows, power seats, cruise, cd player, Was purchased in Miami Florida in 2008 with 110,000 miles, I have all my records, has aluminum Chevy wheels off a 2004 2500hd with good rubber, looks & drives great, no smoke, no accidents, title in hand, well maintained with lots of replaced parts and no rust or rot. No tears in the leather seats just wear marks. Set-up to tow with trailer hitch.
I had it converted to run on WVO with a professionally installed Greasecar kit complete with a custom 30 gl tank, copilot auto control unit and a plate heat exchanger @ a cost of $4,000.00. I have two other grease cars and no longer need the large suburban. The car runs great on grease and saves you $$ on diesel.
List of parts that I have had replaced: Injector pump, PMD, lifter pump, new heads, head gaskets, ball joints, u-joints, batteries, thermostats, head lights, tail lights, starter, hub assembly, outer tie rod end, adjuster sleeve, pitman arm, idler arm, rotors, brakes, shift cable, oil pressure switch, shocks, glow plugs, alternator, brake booster, belt pulley, balancer, bolt and timing cover seal, radiator, turbo booster sensor, cv shaft, rear main seal ect. ect…
Please call Chuck with any questions or to set-up a test drive
Bernie on February 28, 2012:
I have an 1983 Mercedes 300SD. I have 20,000 miles on WVO, injection lines and fuel filter heaters.
Not long ago I bought a 1987 Ford F250 XLT Lariat, 6.9L, 2 tanks. Front tank diesel, rear tank WVO.(25% diesel - 75% WVO).
I start on diesel and finish on Diesel. No problems whatsoever.
I use a "frantz oil" filter in a shop setup using 1 roll of toilet paper for every 5 gallons. My oil is super clean and is under 3 microns (under microscope)
faerylaughter on February 25, 2012:
I am considering buying a Mitsubishi Pajero diesel, 1993 with 109,000kms. Is this a good vehicle to convert?
mary-lambert from Charlotte, NC on September 27, 2011:
I'm a huge Greasecar fan and have one installed in my Mercedes Benz 300D. Works great, but my 81 is falling to pieces. Not the engine, everything else. I'm expecting to walk out and see everything fallen off the car but the engine. Great engine to convert if you can find someone that is handy with basic skills.
HomerMCho on July 12, 2011:
ttravis5446 (author) from U.S. on June 05, 2010:
The newer Grand Cherokee's are bad candidates due to the common rail fuel system they utilize. The Common Rail system is a very efficient design but is not really compatible with WVO conversions. The Jeep Liberty CRD models are disqualified for the same reason.
Bill on May 19, 2010:
I have an 2007 grand cherokee diesel.Is it the factory warranty that makes this a poor candidate?
tony on February 19, 2010:
Ihave a volvo 760 td here in the US.2 MB 300sd I have a friend who,s a PEUGEOT mech and parts dealer. has loads and loads of diesel engines and peugeot diesel are great check out RAMSEY peugeot N.J.
JakeAuto from Calif. on October 26, 2009:
I have an MB like a young actress on a talk show had converted for bio diesel, she mentioned filling it in a warehouse store's parking lot with cooking oil.
I would consider a conversion for the cool factor, if I could secure a regular supply of french fry scented fuel.
ttravis5446 (author) from U.S. on September 19, 2009:
The prices on these are definitely coming down with the price of fuel. Now is the time to get one.
GAWjr from Denver, CO on August 16, 2009:
I'm sure lots of people will wish they did a veggie conversion when fuel prices go back up. Buying a vehicle like these should be a little easier now. Because, when fuel prices were almost $5 a gallon, they were a little harder to get your hands on.