Are Vegetable Oil Cars A Feasible Solution?

Some call it a practical solution to the oil problem and rising gas prices, but the Environmental Protection Agency EPA calls it illegal. Vegetable oil cars that use this alternative fuel are both creative and controversial.

Environmentally speaking, vegetable oil cars reduce carbon in the atmosphere. However, the EPA says it is denser than diesel fuel and it has a lower cetane rating, which means it doesn’t burn as well. It also releases more soot particles into the air and might increase the production of nitrogen oxides.

All these findings are preliminary though. Since no vehicle running on vegetable oil or company has sought the EPA’s approval yet, no official testing has been done. This technicality is the reason that makes vegetable oil modified vehicles illegal: no EPA approval, no right to roam the streets.

Yet this alternative fuel is gaining popularity. The number of companies offering the service or conversion kits to modify vehicles is increasing. Switching to vegetable oil, whether you choose to do it yourself or leave it up to the experts, can cost you between $700 and $1,300 and can be done to diesel vehicles only.

While owners and vegetable oil believers claim that this is a big step towards ending America’s dependency on foreign oil, that their vehicles run great and that you can’t beat the price – most get free used oil from restaurants. But the Engine Manufacturers Association warns drivers about possible damage to vehicles. According to these experts, vegetable oil as an alternative fuel can result in sticky piston rings, injector and combustion chamber deposits, fuel system deposits, reduced power, decreased fuel economy, increased exhaust emissions and, in the long run, serious damage to the vehicle’s engine.

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