Monday, August 06, 2007

Biodiesel report

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I figure that after 9 1/2 months of having the "ole oil burner" aka "The Jetta" in her new home in SLC that it was time for an update on how she's running. As stated in an earlier post, we found the Jetta on Craigslist after months of searching for a cheap, TDI that I could run on biodiesel. It also took a few months convincing Gina that getting one new car and selling our other two would be worth it. After getting it home, the first few tanks were a B20 blend of biodiesel (20% biodiesel 80% regular diesel) to kind of ease into the whole biodiesel thing. The car had nearly 100,000 miles on it and biodiesel really cleans out the system, so it's not a good thing to make the switch very fast. The weather started to get cold and we had to continue to run B20 until the spring time because a higher percentage of biodiesel would have a problem with the cold weather. So B20 it was throughout the winter, and I was still 80% tied to foreign oil. But, glorious spring time came around and I topped off with B100 (100% biodiesel) from Cardwell Distributing.

It smelled a little vegetable oil-like and not like a fuel at all (which was nice compared to the oily smell of regular diesel), so I pumped it in and drove away happy on a mixture of 100% soy and canola-based biodiesel from Idaho and Colorado. The car immediately quieted down a significant amount and the exhaust was devoid of it's normal slightly pungent diesel aroma in favor of the new cooked vegetable oil fragrance. And it was about $0.05 cheaper than regular diesel at the time to boot!

I can now report that after 21,000 miles on either B20 or B100, the Jetta is still going strong and just ticked over to 120,000 miles. I have performed the regular maintenance with a filter change here and there, an oil change (which only needs to be done ever 15,000 miles BTW), and a timing belt job and that's about it. During this last tank, the weather was extra hot (think A/C on all the time) and we did almost exclusively city driving and we got a horrible 39 MPG. It was the first time we have dipped below the 40 MPG mark, so it was a sad day. On the flip side, here's a shot of our fuel mileage record:

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Yep, that's a 53 MPG in the middle there. That was on the way to Durango and back on one tank. Diesels really excel at the freeway driving, so the times where the mileage was high were times when we did a lot of freeway driving. The times when it was low was city driving (which we do more of anyway). What drives me nuts though is the stupid EPA. Just look at these numbers, eek!

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Can you believe that? That's the EPA trying to say that my car is supposed to get 38 MPG combined and I actually get about 43 MPG! How can they do that?! The one that irks me the most is the freeway rating. They say the car gets 44 MPG on the freeway, I have never gotten below 50MPG on the freeway and I run a renewable fuel instead of gasoline! I don't understand the EPA sometimes, it's ridiculous. At least they revised the bloated numbers to better reflect the mileage that hybrids get (believe it or not, hybrids do NOT get 60 MPG as Toyota claimed). A prius for example gets a little better mileage than the TDI in the city, but gets worse mileage on the freeway. Hybrid technology is great though, don't get me wrong, although it would be nice if they could run a renewable fuel and still get the same mileage numbers. Can't wait until Europe brings over the diesel-hybrids to replace all the gasoline ones, can you say true 60 MPG combined mileage?


GinaRD said...

Do you think our kids will get the same kind of attention your car does? Notice how I say "your car" because if the Jetta ever broke down into tears and I tried to lend some comfort, it would push me away and wine "I want my daddy!" She's a daddy's girl for sure. You really do have a way with her :).

Peter said...

Damn EPA! Damn prius, they're so smug with their incorrect EPA rating. Damn foreign stink fuel not worth fighting for!

(I'm shaking my fist in the air)

Well done Brad! Your tracking of performance and diligent maintenance is impressive. But it does sound like Gina could also use a little "performance tracking" and "diligent maintenance". Maybe dinner at a nice resturant and flowers to start with and then a nice drive in the jetta sort of a ménage à trois, if you will :D

Two Wheeler said...

haha, Advice taken, I'll see what I can do in the neighborhood of "performance tracking" with Gina :-o

I must say though, she is already very well maintained, I gotta give her credit there.