Why Old Mercedes make good biodiesel vehicles

Mercedes 240D front
I was asked recently about why I recommend older Mercedes Benz diesels as the perfect diesel for using biodiesel in….so, without further adeiu….

I just wanted to share a couple reasons why biodieseler’s across the country and all over the world like these older diesels for biodiesel use so much.
Mercedes Benz, believe it or not, was one of the first commerical engine makers to embrace the diesel engine when it was invented by Rudolph Diesel in the late 19th century. They were the first auto manufacturer to put one in a vehicle and Mercedes has alway’s been a big user of these wonderful ingenious engines.
When Rudolph Diesel invented his engine, he had grand plans for it and if he could see where it’s gone now I’m sure he’d be amazed.
Now a bit on why older Mercedes Diesel Engines are so widely popular among biodieselers.
1- Engine Design:
Older Mercedes engines utilize an older style indirect injection technology to inject the fuel into the cylinder. Because of this, the tolerances for the fuel the engines can handle are incredibly wide. Essentially, the engine is extremely forgiving on the type of fuel you put into it. When other diesel engines are fed the same fuel they run into all sorts of problems, but not older Mercedes Diesels. They’re just amazing! The things would probably run on anything short of mashed banana’s (and I’m sure someone somewhere has mashed some up & made biodiesel out of them & ran it–successfully–through engine somewhere).
Because the tolerances are so wide, essentially, the fuel we make in our garages really doesn’t have to be up to the high quality standards of the Biodiesel Commercial Industry to run in these older engines. They just keep on running on the stuff.
Older Mercedes are also the choice among people that run straight vegetable oil in the vehicles as well. Again, because the tolerances are so wide that it’ll run on it.
2- Engine Durability
Many newer diesel engines have engines that have aluminum heads in them. Even Mercedes around 1986 started putting aluminum heads on their engines. The older Mercedes style engines (including the set you’ll be purchasing and using for the show) are made of SOLID IRON! These thing’s are incredibly durable. It’s very common for them to easily put on 300 to 400 thousand miles on them with no problems whatsoever. The car’s will deteriorate around them but the engines will just keep on running. You can over heat these engines beyond all measure and with a little time, a little cooling down, you’ll be back in business.
Biodieseler’s love this fact! They just run & run & run & run.
3- Car Durability
Because they’re Mercedes, they’re made incredibly solid and they’re incredibly durable vehicles. They’re like driving a tank…literally! The things are incredibly heavy, but that’s what gives them that classic smooth car feel.
Because they’re so durable, there’s still alot of them left out there. They just keep on running. Biodieseler’s tend to like them because:
A) Biodieseler’s are the cheapest people on the earth and
B) They really like getting something reliable fairly cheap
4- Classy Looks
You just can’t beat the look of a Mercedes. Especially the older ones. They just look classy, even when they’re nearly 30 years old. They’re also extremely easy to work on. There’s really not much to the engines. Just an engine, a fuel injection pump, some fuel injectors, and some glow plugs. Something goes wrong? Just fiddle around w/ something under the hood & you’re bound to find what’s wrong
5- Popularity
Because of the items above, they’re incredibly popular cars among biodieseler’s. Because of this you have a built in install base that you can refer to for help. Try that w/ an old Isuzu Diesel (believe me, I own one). It just can’t be done. With Mercedes you have a built in support group to help you along should your vehicle for some strange reason start doing something it shouldn’t. And, in the event it goes belly up, you’ve got a built in market for people that are willing to buy it from you.
If you’d like to see just how popular they are among biodieseler’s just hit Ebay and type Mercedes Diesel and Biodiesel. You’ll be AMAZED at how many there are out there.
I have a lot more information on Mercedes Diesels via my business website that you can use to conduct more thorough research on the vehicles.
Here’s the link to my diesel section:
Scroll down until you hit the Mercedes section.

So there you have it, my list of why I like Mercedes diesels…..
The Rabid Biodiesel Nut

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20 comments on “Why Old Mercedes make good biodiesel vehicles

    • I have a 1974 240D and I love it. I’ve been using biodiesel in it since 2001. I am the 3rd owner of this car. I keep it in very nice condition. However, I live in Tucson. If anyone is interested in my car, I would be willing to tell you everything I have done to the car. It is a tank. It is a 4 speed manual. Has AC, powersteering and runs great. I’m not itching to sell it. I just don’t drive it that much and my wife wants to get something newer. Would need to get $5000 for it. It gets almost 30 mpg. (520) 730-6336

  1. I found mine, a 1982 300D, on a charity auction site, and it only had 156K miles on it! Of course, I bought it cheap, but I’ve had to make up for the cheap purchase price by fixing up things other than the engine. So watch out for that, and see if you can’t find a reputable mechanic who knows his way around the older ones. Some areas have tons of specialists in these older diesels, while other areas they might be a little scarce. But the ride can’t be beat! I get in mine after work and don’t want to stop driving it, it feels so good.

    Craigslist is another good source for used Benz’s.

  2. currently driving a 80 300 turbo sd , after having 2 300 td and one 240 never had any problems love the 300 , but the sd took me to another level of mercedes craftmanship

  3. Is there a place to locate a reliable service guy who can handle the conversion and ongoing maintenance–in the Northeast?

    Great article, by the way.

  4. I own 2 older Mercedes diesels (both made in 1985), but I don’t drive them anymore. My ex drives one, and the other is in storage. I would love to convert one of them sooner rather than later. I drive a 1999 Mercedes Diesel now, which isn’t a good candidate for conversion IMHO.

    • Hi,
      I’m on the verge of buying a 99 300d. I really like it’s comfort and performance, but if i can’t put the bio in it i don’t want it. Can you shate with me what you know bout these cars?

      Thank you,


  5. hi
    i just moved to slc from seattle. i drive an ’85 300d and love it. however it’s needing a little tlc at the moment. i had a great mechanic in seattle and am wondering if you could recommend someone here. appreciate any help. thanks, zach

  6. I just bought a 1980 300D. It has 200K, but was meticulously kept up
    Do you guys think the high-mileage engine could do biodiesel? If so, I live in honolulu, does anyone know of knowledgeable biodiesel people/companies out here?

  7. I had to replace the valve cover
    gasket,trans pan gasket,dip stick
    o ring and fuel inj. hoses on my
    85 300dt which has 207k miles because every thing leaked a lot.
    no more leaks. car runs great and is pleasure to drive. Its now ready
    for conversion.

  8. I have a 1981 300D and love it. I am planning to keep it but want to know if the new 2008/2009 Mercedes diesels are worth the cost?

  9. I have a 82 300sd I run it on use motor oil, trans oil, used and new cooking oil, and any thing else that looks like oil with no mods to the fuel sys just put it in the tank and start it it runs fine also it has over 1,500,000 miles on it still runs like a champ love it

  10. The new bluetecs are really not worht the 50k plus price tag IMHO

    But a 2005 or 2006 E320 CDI is a amazing car, straight 6 instead of new v6, 38 MPG++ tons of torque

    I love mine, check them out, only 05 and 06 though…

  11. Pingback: Utah Biodiesel Supply Blog Greatest Articles | Utah Biodiesel Supply Blog

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