Letter Re: Diesel Fuel Storage and Dyed Diesel Issues

In a short response to Simon S. from “Across the pond” and his letter about using heating oil for diesel vehicles, please let me add one small bit of first hand advice;  The heating oil that you buy for your home is not only dyed differently for tax reasons, it isn’t filtered as well either.  I also live in Europe and I got the idea to burn heating oil in my diesel vehicle once most people started converting (wrongly I might add) to Natural Gas from Russia.  The people who converted were expected to pay a lot of money to have the remainder of their heating fuel in their heating tanks removed and destroyed as environmentally unfriendly waste.  So I started pumping it out and taking it from them for free to use at home for my own use.  Then I started putting some of it in my Volkswagen Passat Turbo Diesel car.  It worked great for about a month, then one morning the car wouldn’t start, and the dealer said the fuel injector unit was destroyed, which was something he doesn’t see very often.  It cost me about 2,500 Euro ($$3,000) to have a new one put in, and I thought it was just a case of a bad part.  Then, about a month later, the new diesel injector unit was also bad, and they noticed that the fuel was heating oil not diesel.  They wouldn’t replace the pump the second time for free under warranty. The dealer told me that modern diesel injector units (Like those used on common rail injectors) are very sensitive to dirt and other dissolved trash in the heating oil.  The filter takes out solid particles, but not  particles fine enough to ruin the injector pump. Beware using heating oil in a modern diesel.

I use it all the time in my older Massey Ferguson MF-35 tractor with a Perkins diesel motor, as well as the MAN diesel motor that runs my emergency generator, but I never use it in my modern vehicles. – Mike in Europe

JWR Replies: Here in the States, the formulation standards for home heating oil are similar to those in Europe. Although their formulation and flash points are nearly identical, home heating oil and diesel have different standards for ash and sulfur content. With home heating oil a higher quantity of ash is allowable. Therefore, the same warning that you mentioned also applies to vehicles here in the United States. Owners of vehicles with “rail” type fuel-injected diesel engines, beware!