Louise's grease car

Veggie car 1.JPG

Mmmm. Smells like french fries.

You can smell Louise Sikelianos coming.

As she tools down the streets of Albany in her 1990 VW Jetta, the air smells of french fries. Three years ago Louise converted her deisel to a grease car that runs on a combination of diesel fuel and vegetable oil.

It's one of a handful of grease cars that are running on the leftovers at Capital Region restaurants.

AOA went with Louise for a quick spin in the grease car...

Louise and veggie car.JPGWhy did you convert to a grease car?

It's good for the environment and it saves me a lot of money. You get little or no emissions from the veggie oil -- and the oil I'm using would otherwise go into a landfill.

The car gets 45 to 50 mpg because it's diesel... and the same with the veggie, but the veggie oil is free. I only have to fill the tank with diesel about six times a year. Three years ago I drove the car from Albany to Chicago on one take of diesel and 30 gallons of veggie.

How does it work?

You use the diesel to start it, then you push a button to switch it over to veggie oil. Then you use the diesel again at the end.

veggie car 3.JPGThe converter kit was $900 and it cost about $400 to have it converted. It's paid for itself over and over again. Diesel was almost $5 a gallon a year ago so it's saved me so much money.

You want it to be real quality oil. It can't be hydrogenated. Hydrogenated -- not good for people or cars. I have to filter the oil through three filters and then pour it directly into the tank in the trunk. You need to replace the filters a few times a year they're not too expensive...like $25.

Where do you get the oil?

From Taste of Greece on Lark Street. I used to go to Bombers but they had more than I could use. They had ten five gallon containers a week. That was too much for me, so now they give their oil to the Honest Weight Food co-op. Honest Weight has a bus that they converted over to veggie.

veggie 4.JPGWhat about when it needs to be fixed?

I take it to Miller's Garage near the Free School. There's quite a few people in the Free School community who have veggie cars. The Miller Brothers have really learned to work on them. One guy bought a brand new Mercedes and converted it to veggie. The Miller brothers really know how to work on them now.

Is there a downside to the veggie Car?

The downside is the time you need to put in. And it's a little messy, but I don't really mind that. You have to wear very old clothes that you would throw away.

What about the smell?

Oh, I love the smell. I think other people do, too. One time I was pulling into my garage and some of my neighbors were standing out side and they were like "Mmmm... is that your car?"


You go Louise :) What about the smell? For what it's worth, my house is in front of hers, and it never bothered me.

I met Louise at the dog park on Erie in Albany one time and she told me about her car and the sad but awesome story of one of her dogs (I believe her name was Ladybug and she was the cutest pup). She's pretty cool and I enjoyed our conversation. I'm glad to see her featured on AOA.

Louise is breaking the law. She must pay taxes on every gallon of vegetable oil put into the tank...

@Taxman I'm going to assume you're just kidding around especially since I don't know if what you said is true. However, in case you aren't, I'll just say that you don't know if she's paying tax on them or not unless you are her accountant.

@ Taxman:

- there are no federal taxes on gifts to the donee (the recipient). However, the donor (the giver) will be taxed for aggregate gifts with a value of > $13,000 from one person to another. If the value of the veggie oil she gets from Taste of Greece is less than $13,000 per year, Taste of Greece will not have to pay taxes on their gift to her. Assuming the waste value of the oil is

it's ok, a lot of accountants get this wrong. Hope that helps!

From this story, you don't know that she's not. You just assumed and accused.

ok my first post and I have to say...you guys really need to convert your humor from NPR high brow to sarcasm. Taxman was obviously satirizing numerous NYS 'tax ideals' of sugar, trans fats, downloads, etc.

Even though she'd probably use it infrequently, I wonder if Louise used her Price Chopper AdvantEdge card when she filled her tank with diesel, would the gas station just start giving her gas for free and then give her back 10c, 20c, 30c, 50c / gallon in cash?

The tax issue is real but some states have created or are created loopholes for veggie oil cars. I believe the issue is mostly when you are driving on specific roads that are funded using the gas tax proceeds. Other than that vegetable oil based fuels have the potential to put a ton of money in the economy by turning waste into a profit center for restaurants.

Remember when Crazy Cabbie announced on the Stern Show that he avoided paying taxes. A listener turned him into the IRS & he eventually did some hard time.

I want to know where did u get your car converted in to a vegggie car?? Let me know If there is a place in albany ny to get this done?? or do I have to travel to get my car converted in to veggie car? Thanks

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