1,500 miles on homebrew fuel

Jetta with trailer in OhioLast week we drove up to Michigan for a visit with Laura’s mom. We did the entire 850 miles north on homebrew, and I had already been feeding my Jetta homebrew for over 700 miles. So the first part of the trip marked the first 1,500 miles straight on homebrew!

Going north, the Jetta was loaded with two adults and two kids, plus baggage, and we were travelling at an average 70 Miles (112KM) per hour. The car used about 17 gallons for the trip north, which comes out to 50 miles per gallon. I calculated that my cost for the ingredients for a gallon of homebrew is abut 75 cents, plus 26 cents road tax, that’s $1.01 per gallon so the fuel cost for the 850-mile trip to Michigan was $17.17 :).

Since the temperatures in Michigan at night already dipped below 40 F, I added four gallons of kerosene to the remaining biodiesel in the tank. I also found a local biodiesel distributor (D&L Fuels) where I bought 15 gallons for the trip back to North Carolina. (Note: D&L Fuels only sells B20 retail at the pump, but they will fill containers with B99) However, on the trip south our car was towing a 4-foot x 8-foot U-Haul trailer (1.2 M x 2.4 M), which changed the fuel mileage of my 4-cyl TDI Jetta a bit.

Going south, with a 1000-pound trailer in tow (600 pounds tare plus 400 pounds in antique furniture), the Jetta used 27 gallons on 850 miles, which comes out to 32.5 miles per gallon. The biodiesel (or “soy”) I bought in Michigan cost $40 and I bought 4 gallons of kero ($11) and topped off with 2 gallons of diesel (to make it home). Plus 6 gallons of homebrew to start with (@ $1.01), I end up with a total fuel bill of $62 for the return trip.

Altogether, I spent just under $80 for the fuel for the 1,700-mile round trip. Not too bad!

I was also very satisfied with the way the Jetta handled with the trailer in tow. Ohio was no problem – the turnpike is easy driving. But I77 is a different story, especially in West Virginia. That road is awful, the grades are steep at times, and, to make this more interesting, we had pouring rain all the way through WV. Yet, the little Jetta did fine going 60 – 65 MPH mostly. Only on the steepest climbs I had to shift up into fourth gear. And going downhill, I rarely had to brake. Sure, the trailer was not really all that heavy, but I was still wondering how the Jetta would handle it, and I was very pleased.

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