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...
Why 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.
The 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.
What 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?"
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