2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI: B5 Biodiesel
May 2, 2014
I'm sitting in my brother-in-law's San Jose, CA living room looking for any excuse to bail. After five hours of extended family time, I need a break. So I ask if there's a gas station around that sells diesel. Yesterday I had driven our long-term 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI up to his house from Los Angeles and we were making the return run later today.
"There's one about a mile away", he says. "But we should fill it with biodiesel."
"From where?" I shoot back.
"There's a pump for the stuff over by the freeway at a Chevron station," he says.
"I'm intrigued. Let's go," I say. "But before we do, let's check the VW's owner's manual."
And there it clearly states, "Diesel fuel with concentrations of methyl ester biodiesel higher than 5% (B5), such as B11, B20, or B100, are strictly prohibited."
Hmm. We drive over hoping the pump is dispensing B5, but it isn't. It's selling B20 along with a second pump for E85. Although the sign says it's compatible with "any diesel vehicle" I pass.
Turns out the Propel (propelfuels.com) branded pump is one of seven located in California's Bay Area, including three in San Jose.
Back home I read up on the subject. It's very unlikely one tank of B20 would have harmed our Passat TDI. However, constant use may ultimately contaminate the engine oil which would lead to engine wear and eventual failure. I'm still intrigued, however. We're going to test our Passat TDI on B5 and see what it does to our MPG.
Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 18,710 miles