The Car Geek: Hail The ‘Grease Cars’

The Car Geek

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Hail The ‘Grease Cars’

Now that our country is facing terrible global warming concerns, everyone should think of better solutions.

Aside from the production of hybrids, another good remedy is the use of grease cars. Yes, grease cars – those that burn vegetable oil. So move over gas-guzzlers and welcome the grease cars, the latest trend in the industry composed of environmentally-conscious drivers.

As defined by an article, grease cars are diesel vehicles converted to also burn leftover food-grade vegetable oil (aka SVO for straight vegetable oil). The oil can is available in local restaurants. Grease car conversions and fueling take some leg work, but advocates say in the end you save money, help the environment and consume less "foreign oil," said the article.

“The first grease cars were developed in 1980 on a Volkswagen Golf in Germany, according to, but thousands of Americans have grease cars nowadays,” said Cynthia Shelton, director of the California-based National VegOil Board.

What are the steps required to do the greasing? Robin Lloyd shares the following steps:

First, they lineup a waste oil source in advance. You don't want to convert your car and then scramble for fuel. Contact local restaurants to reach an agreement. Some restaurants pay to have the oil carted away so they might be pleased for you to take it for no charge. Spector and Uviller live in Manhattan, so they get their waste oil from a French restaurant literally across the street.

Next comes the vehicle. The purchase of a new diesel car has been tricky in some parts of the country, including the Northeast, because of air emissions rules, but new low-sulfur diesel is changing that, or you can buy a used diesel car.

Choose a conversion kit by comparing the offerings from sites such as, and, or reading the or blogs.

Finally, greasers set up a filtering system or station. Some food scraps tend to remain in waste oil, so you have to filter it out. You can buy filtration systems for $700 or make your own from parts for less.

According to the National VegOil Board, the vegetable oil used is not certified by the EPA. This is why drivers of grease cars also have to research local oil collecting, hauling, storage and relevant laws regarding the matter.

As automakers are improving their engine, radiator and fuels, the effort should not end there. We have to find some ways to remedy the predicament; this isn’t just for us but for the coming generations.

[credit: MSNBC]