How do I Use Vegetable Oil to Burn in a Chevrolet 6.2 or 6.5 Liter Diesel?

Preparing Vegetable Oil for Your Engine


Draw up a basic safety plan. Consult local fire and safety officials and research local and state regulations for biodiesel production, especially with regard to fire safety and disposal of glycerin. Prepare an emergency plan, including Material Safety Data Sheets and emergency phone numbers for fuel and chemical spills.


Gather your personal safety equipment such as chemical-resistant gloves, a respirator mask and eyewash station, or purchase these items if you don't already have them. Also obtain lye neutralizer, running water, fire extinguishers and spill containment supplies.


Put in place your biodiesel processor, as well as storage for feedstock, finished biodiesel and byproducts. Biodiesel is produced by combining an oil, such as canola, and methanol with a catalyst, such as sodium hydroxide. Biodiesel is also known as methyl ester, and the process is called "transesterification." Byproducts like glycerin and unreacted oil and methanol must be stored and disposed of very carefully.


Purchase bulk vegetable oil. Canola performs better at temperatures below freezing and is readily available. Bulk Waste Vegetable Oil (BWVO) may be available in your area, but this oil is dirtier than fresh vegetable oils, will require more processing time and tends to have more solvent characteristics, making it harder on the engine's seals and hoses.


Combine your oil and methanol with a catalyst, such as sodium hydroxide, to produce your biodiesel. Store the biodiesel and prepare to test it on your engine. You will likely void any warranties that exist on your engine and fuel system when you switch to biodiesel, including most after-market fuel system components.


Freeze a sample of your biodiesel to test for cloudiness and formation of crystals. Compare fuels made from different feedstock.

Prepare your Engine for Biodiesel


Replace seals and hoses in your diesel engine. The rubber blends used to manufacture them will generally not stand up to biodiesel's solvent characteristics. This is especially true of original fuel seals and hoses on the 6.2 L diesel.


Blend biodiesel 50-50 with regular diesel and run it for a few days in city and highway conditions. Check all your seals and hoses regularly for leaks or other wear. If the 50 percent blend is working well, then go to a 75 percent or 100 percent biodiesel blend.


Monitor your fuel system carefully in winter. Cold weather can cause crystals to form in the fuel, and these crystals will build up in your fuel filters and eventually clog them. Your diesel engine will not perform well if fuel cannot travel freely from fuel tank to the injectors.

Tips and Warnings

  • Store a sample of your biodiesel in a freezer for a week or so, then test for cloudiness; compare different blends in this way and use the best for winter fuel.
  • Don't leave home without extra fuel filters and the tools to change them, and familiarize yourself with the process of bleeding the air from a diesel fuel system (see Resources).
  • Biodiesel made from canola has the best cold-weather performance, while that made from hydrogenated oils or animal fats has the worst performance.
  • There are guidelines available in some states for composting glycerin, saving you the trouble of finding someone to dispose of it for you.
  • Methanol fumes may build up in your production area, creating a serious risk of fire. Make sure your production area is vented properly, according to regulations.
  • There are two steps to burning vegetable oil in a Chevrolet 6.2-liter or 6.5-liter diesel engine. The first is converting or processing vegetable oil into biodiesel, and the second is preparing your diesel engine to run on biodiesel. Producing your own biodiesel involves critical safety issues as well as environmental issues around the disposal of dangerous byproducts. The Chevrolet 6.2 and 6.5 L engines were produced by General Motors between 1982 and 2000 for use in light trucks and recreational vehicles.