Biodiesel In Turbocharged Vehicles

Biodiesel is a commercially available diesel replacement fuel manufactured from vegetable oils or animal fats. It produces fewer greenhouse gases than petroleum diesel and, since it is made domestically from renewable resources, increases national energy security. However, if not used right it may also ruin your turbocharger!


Biodiesel can be blended at any ratio with petroleum diesel, but it is most commonly sold at ratios of 2%, 5%, or 20%, denoted as B2, B5, and B20. The vehicle manufacturers that produce the diesels listed in the EPA's Fuel Economy Guide currently approve the use of biodiesel blends of up to 5% (B5) in their vehicles and state that vehicle damage caused by using higher blends will not be covered under the manufacturer’s warranty. Check your owner’s manual or with your vehicle
manufacturer to determine the right blend for your vehicle and do not exceed this percentage or severe engine damage may result.

Use of biodiesel blends may reduce fuel economy slightly, with a drop of less than 1% for B5. Purchase commercial-grade biodiesel from a reputable dealer. Never refuel with recycled grease or vegetable oil that has not been converted to
biodiesel. It will damage your engine. More than 600 stations currently sell B20, which is well above the recommended blend for turbocharged engines. Visit http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/locator/stations/  for locations of service stations selling biodiesel but be sure to check the blend to insure that you do not exceed recommendations for your vehicle.

Biodiesel is an increasingly popular and "green" fuel, but it has been tied to coking - the deposit of carbon and other gummy particulates into turbocharger components. In many cases this can lead to severe and expensive damage. Engine and turbo manufacturers are working to overcome the problem, for example on some vehicles GM has added a 9th injector to feed small amounts of fuel to the turbocharger to burn off deposits. However, it is critical that you not exceed recommended blends, and that you avoid the use of "home brew" biodiesel which may be contaminated with water, methanol, glycerine, or non converted fatty acids which can severely affect your turbocharger.

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