In the next couple of weeks, I’ll hit 150,000 miles on my 2005 VW Passat TDI. Not only is this the longest that I’ve ever owned any vehicle, it is my first diesel car. I bought it used in 2006 when it had about 2,000 miles on it, which the previous owner had mostly biodiesel in it. Since I’ve bought it, I’ve run it almost exclusively on B100. There are several interesting things about this:
1. I average about 30 MPG between highway and city. For 150,000 miles, that’s 5000 gallons of diesel fuel I have burned. Given that I’ve probably put a total of four tanks of diesel fuel in it over it’s lifetime, that’s about 4900 gallons that were pure biodiesel made from vegetable oil. That’s 4900 gallons of fuel that DIDN’T come from foreign oil, and was made by my employees right here in the North Carolina, USA.
2. Volkswagen’s take on biodiesel is pretty grim. They really only support blends of B5 biodiesel, and the dealer and a factory rep told me emphatically that running higher blends would ruin the engine and void my warranty. I am now mocking them…
3. In the 6 years I have owned this car, there have been very few mechanical problems. I’ve had to replace the fuel tank pump, which is the only thing that ever made me think biodiesel was to blame (It wasn’t. Turns out it’s a fairly common failure.) I’ve also just recently had to replace the camshaft. That is the most expensive repair I’ve done to date, and not related to biodiesel. Other than that, the only costs have been for tires, oil changes, and maintenance repairs or upgrades.
So after 150,000 miles of running almost exclusively on pure biodiesel, it makes me wonder, what is VW so afraid of? Surely they could have done (or did) this kind of testing on their own. I’m not the only person who has done this, either. There are hundreds of TDI owners that run pure biodiesel in their cars, and love it.
As for me, I’m still happy with the car and will continue to run it until the wheels fall off, or someone offers me more money to buy it than it’s worth.