1998 Jetta with WVO conversion (and local WVO source) - $800 (Portland, OR)


Well-known member
Jan 15, 2008
Portland, OR
1998 Jetta
Ideally, I'd like to sell the car locally and pass on the source, but I may also consider nonlocal sale as well. Text below is copied from my CL ad (written for a different audience).

This is a neat car, great fuel economy, runs on waste vegetable oil and biodiesel, lots of little problems, the trunk is a mess. It comes with a source of waste vegetable oil and supplies for properly preparing the oil for the fuel system.

I have made several cross-continent trips in the car since I bought it in 2011. I think I've seen as much as 50 mpg on WVO during these trips (with cruise control set to 55 mph for hundreds of miles at a time), but it's probably safer to say that it gets around 45 mpg, no lower than 40. It's hard to measure accurately when you have two fuel systems.

I've been running WVO in various vehicles since 2004, and I can say with confidence that this is a good conversion. It uses coolant heat in the fuel tank, WVO filter, hose-in-hose fuel line, and a small heat exchanger just before the fuel selector valve. There is also a vegtherm electric heater just before the coolant heat exchanger, and with the looped fuel return, I've seen fuel temps of 180 degrees F prior to the injection pump (see photo), and temps over 200 degrees on the lines between the injector pump and the injectors. So, i can say with confidence that the veggie has a really good chance of spraying and combusting properly and safely (for the engine) if only clean, water-free oil is used. So, the system starts on biodiesel in the stock fuel tank (b100-safe fuel lines are used throughout the biodiesel side of the fuel system). A gauge on the dash shows when the coolant in the veggie components is up to temperature. I suggest running a good 5 minutes or so after that point is reached. Then, there is a switch to start running veggie and a toggle to then monitor the fuel temp after switchover instead of the coolant (the gauge reads 23% low on both veggie and coolant, but it's consistent). Upon switching to veggie, the fuel temp is usually about 150 degrees immediately, and within a few minutes (depending on how you're driving), you can see 170 degrees (which is what I consider to be the target temp). In traffic, you'll see over 180, but at freeway speeds, it would take a long time to get there.
Before shutting off the car (for anything more than a few minutes), one presses a button to "purge" the veggie from the system (drawing from the biodiesel tank, sending it back to the veggie tank), then turns off the purge and finally runs on the biodiesel tank before shutting it down.
In five years, I've never put diesel in this car (nothing less than b99, though did use "renewable diesel" from the Bay Area last winter, which is also made from waste vegetable oils but not technically called biodiesel).

I am selling this car because after 12 years I am stepping back from WVO, still keeping my converted Sprinter, but I want to collect less, process less, and spill less veggie oil. The car is still great, and I still believe in WVO. It's still the cleanest fuel you can run in an internal combustion engine, and with proper care and maintenance, it can be done without damaging the engine or fuel pump. So, since I am stepping back, I am also offering to you whichever of my two sources you want, either 1) a weekly supply of rice bran oil (usually about 8-9 gallons per week, but sometimes as much as 20-24 gallons), or 2) a monthly supply of canola oil. Both supplies need to be properly settled and dewatered before being put in the fuel tank, and neither is particularly clean oil, but I've been using both for over a year. So, the available WVO processing equipment includes:
1. A 55 gallon dewatering barrel with a band heater and a drain valve about 10 inches from the bottom.
2. My beloved DIY centrifuge made from a juicer (it works!!!!).
3. A 55 gallon clean barrel with a goldenrod filter (10 mi filter installed) attached to a bung at the bottom of the barrel. This is just to make sure the fuel is clean, but the centrifuge does all the work.
4. A 120v bucket heater (not normally part of the processing system, though can be useful in the winter).
5. A 5 gallon bucket with a 3/8" clear hose tapped into the bottom to feed the centrifuge (also can be hooked up to another Goldenrod with a 50 mesh screen inside for pre-straining before the oil gets into the dewatering barrel.

That's it. I don't use any pumps. There's no spraying of water into the oil. I just use heat-and-settle dewatering and clean the oil as well as I can without wasting veggie filters. However, a friend of mine is also selling a "One Shot" oil filtration system marketed by Golden Fuel Systems. I'd sell that to you for an additional $300. But this DOES NOT take water out of the fuel, and my current sources always need to be dewatered.
Oh, and this might be also unnecessary since there is a system of pump and filters in the trunk that is the primary method of filling the veggie tank. This isn't fast like the "One Shot," but it's made to fill up the tank directly from a "cubie" even while driving. I'm happy with it except that it can lead to accidentally overflowing the tank since the veggie tank gauge is no longer accurate (see below).

Okay, so that's the car and the fuel. Here's the good, the bad, and the quirky things about it:

- New tire rods a few weeks ago
- Also replaced the tie rod ends with some in good shape, but not brand new
- Alignment last week
- Comes with a cheap but useful code scanner (and clearer)
- New injector nozzles (from ID parts) installed by Diesel Fuel Injection Service in NE PDX in 2014
- Cleaned the gunk out of the intake in 2013. This is a common problem with these old TDIs, so it should be good for a while.
- New timing belt, intermediate shaft seal, and water pump in 2014 at 293,569 actual miles. The timing belt job is required every 90k miles, so it doesn't need it again for 72,000 miles.
- The interior is fine.
- Passed DEQ and registered this summer, so good for another couple years.
- I will provide a detailed manual to the WVO conversion (as PDF).

- There are three codes that make the check engine light come on:
- 01117, which I have seen intermittently for years and which is somehow related to the wiring or the ground on the alternator.
- 0560, which is relayed to the EGR and/or Mass Air Flow sensor. I haven't looked into this that much. Turbos and EGRs are confusing to me, and I just haven't looked into it.
- 0741, which is the "brake pedal monitoring" code. Cruise control recently stopped working. Sometimes, that is associated with a flashing glow plug light and 0741. The problem is probably located in the brake lamp circuit, but I haven't been able to figure it out because all the brake lights work. I just don't have time or energy to chase that all down.
- It's ugly.
- No, really, the paint is very faded (sorry, I took the photos right after the rain, so it looks shiny, but it's not), and there are chips all over. Also, there is fender damage where the previous owners improperly hooked up snow chains. I sanded and spray painted the fender to keep it from rusting.
- Sometimes smokes on startup, sometimes cranks for a second before starting (glow plugs work, so I don't know why this is).
- And the trunk has had sooo many oil spills, drips, and leaks over the years. In fact, it had a fuel tank overflow today! Yeah, today! This is why I am stepping back from veggie. That reminds me...
- The veggie tank fuel gauge is not super accurate anymore. When it's full, it reads just over 3/4, which is why I have been overflowing it lately. It's very frustrating.
- I was planning to list this car for $1200, then last week, while making some changes to the coolant lines for the veggie system, I broke the outlet for the heater core. Replacing the heater core is a terrible task, and I don't have time or the emotional strength to do it, so I just decided to drop the price. If you buy the car, you can follow the Bentley manual (I have it as a PDF you can have) or an online video tutorial and do the work yourself, or pay somebody tons of money to do it for you, or just live without heat in the engine compartment. Or, you can take a chance on rigging something up with JB Weld, but I don't think it will work since there is a crack heading into the pipe.
- When I got an alignment, the tech told me it needs new tires. Actually, I think only one has bad tread, but there's also one that has a slow leak. I have a blind spot for tires. So, the alignment still doesn't feel right, but the tech said it would clear up with new tires. I'd recommend getting two used ones or even sticking it out with the bad ones for a couple thousand miles. That's what I would do.
- Sometimes driving through a puddle at low speeds, the power steering seems to slip. I added a cover to the power steering pump, which helped the problem, but it still happens once in a while.

- The odometer reads 249,685, but the actual miles is about 311,685. I replaced the instrument cluster in 2012, and the new one had 62,000 fewer miles on it than the old one. This isn't really about quirkiness, I guess.
- Let's see, the temp and fuel gauges I installed have lights on all the time. I just didn't make the effort to run a wire from the lights. I should have, but it wasn't worth it to me. That's quirky, I'd say.
- The wiring is not pretty. There might even be some wires that are pigtailed and electrical-taped together, and there might be a wire that starts off yellow and inexplicably splices with a orange or something by the time it gets where it's going. The wiring in the trunk is especially ugly. That reminds me...
- The key doesn't unlock the trunk, and the fob doesn't work, so I ran this ugly switch from the center console. It's just hanging out the trunk. If you want to open the trunk, you just press that button. You could press the button on the center console, but the trunk lid doesn't pop up like it used to (and I had a bike rack on the back for years), so it's really a two person job without that quirky little button I put in.
- AC may work. I got it checked a few years ago, and it worked for a little while after that but seems like it needs to be checked again. Or maybe just recharged. I don't use AC and don't know anything about it. It might work. It might not work for long.
- There are some broken plastic pieces around the car that are ultimately all aesthetic. The molding beneath the steering wheel? Broken and gone. Trim on the passenger side door? Gone. Covers for the mirrors on the sun visors? Gone. Weird dummy light-looking things on the front bottom? Gone. The front grille? It's there, but the tabs are broken. It's fine, though. The cover for the compartment where the ECU lives? Broken. I hate those stupid plastic screw things they use there. So, I broke that thing. None of this matters, but it's part of the quirkiness of the car.
- The indicator light on the veggie kit switch that should tell you when you're running on veggie doesn't work (but sometimes it does).
- It might smell like dogs. Dogs are a part of our lives, and they use the car sometimes.
- The nobs for leaning both the driver and passenger seat back have broken off. They are still there and still help when you want to lean back, but they're broken.
- The veggie fuel tank isn't the right size for the car, so the tank is mounted in an unusual position in the trunk. It's a "spare tire" tank, but this car didn't come with a full size spare tire, so it's just mounted in the trunk. This means that, in order to get the actual spare tire out, you have to lean the back seats down and pull the spare through the car.

Okay, so that's a lot of info. I'd love to sell this to someone who will appreciate it and run it on veggie responsibly.
If interested, PM.

See the CL ad for more images.