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Old 08-26-2017, 06:56 PM   #1
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Bio-Diesel - A Travel Headache

So we purchased our 2017 Forester MBS model 2401W and headed across country to visit parks in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah. Mercedes warns against using more than 5% bio-diesel to avoid catastrophic damage and voiding your warranty. I am sure this is also the guidance provided by many other manufacturers.

Well guess what? Seems like it is virtually impossible to avoid biodiesel at or above 5% in many states - especially the mid-west. Believe me it was no fun having to drive in and out of stations in search of Non-biodiesel fuel. It really takes a lot of joy out of the trip and replaces it with considerable anxiety on what damage you are doing to your vehicle. This unregulated state of affairs regarding diesel fuel doesn't seem to be discussed and, of course, never mentioned when purchasing diesel RV vehicles. We actually pulled into a station that didn't display the bio-diesel warning sign, and just before starting to fill, I asked if the station dispensed non-biodiesel. The manager smiled and said "no" it is bio-diesel but they had not put up the signs yet.

Is the risk of using bio-diesel exaggerated? Is there an easy solution other than selling the RV and buying a gas one instead? I am thinking I must be missing something since there are so many diesel vehicles on the road and virtually nobody talks about this. Any suggestions would be welcome. We are new RV'ers and spent a fair amount on our new motor home.
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Old 08-26-2017, 09:51 PM   #2
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I'm here in Nebraska and I've never had trouble getting anything greater than 5%.
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Old 08-26-2017, 10:08 PM   #3
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No issue getting real diesel in Arkansas. Only Loves has bio here.
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Old 08-26-2017, 10:21 PM   #4
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Not much bio in NM. But I don't really pay attention as my Dmax doesn't care about bio%.
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Old 08-27-2017, 06:19 AM   #5
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Hi,

Here in northern Illinois and elsewhere in the Midwest where I travel, many pumps have a sticker that says their bio is between 5 and 20 percent. When asked, the station clerk is invariably clueless as to the actual amount.

Fortunately, I live close to a station that is reliably non bio. But outside my home area, this is a real problem.

It's aggravating that manufacturers and politicians can't get on the same page to meet needs of the real world we operate in. Prescribing fuel that is not universally available is inexplicable, particularly when you throw in denial of warranty coverage.

Off my soapbox.

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Old 08-27-2017, 06:49 AM   #6
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The entire Sprinter enviro-exhaust system is a huge PIA.

Only trick we have found to not see the dreaded CEL (check engine light) is to top off the DEF as often as possible.

But especially if you wont be operating for a few weeks .

The stuff if not topped off dries out in the tank and caused alarms in the system.

Fill DEF to the brim!!!
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Old 08-27-2017, 07:08 AM   #7
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A DB of "Non-Biodiesel" stations would be great. Maybe GasBuddy would modify their app to include this feature.
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Old 08-27-2017, 07:17 AM   #8
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In my travels I think Illinois is the worst state for being able to find diesel that doesn't contain bio-diesel. The little sign informing percentage of bio-diesel isn't always in an obvious place either.

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Old 08-27-2017, 08:08 AM   #9
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Mn currently has a law stating diesel fuel must be a MINIMUM 10% bio-diesel, worse yet.the requirement goes up to 20% in 2018.
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Old 08-27-2017, 08:18 AM   #10
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We have heard that other states are also requiring high concentrations of bio-diesel. We ran into problems in MS, TX, OK. Considering what people pay for these vehicles I just don't understand why the issue isn't highly discussed and advertised. Imagine buying a nice Cummins engine, Mercedes, Porsche diesel and have them fail without recourse from anyone. Just sent a suggestion to Gas Buddy to include in their app. Maybe others could do the same.
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Old 08-27-2017, 08:20 AM   #11
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Thanks! Didn't know that. I'll be topping off the tank today.
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Old 08-27-2017, 08:22 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ACMN View Post
Mn currently has a law stating diesel fuel must be a MINIMUM 10% bio-diesel, worse yet.the requirement goes up to 20% in 2018.


Nice to know. Seems like a detour around the state might be worthwhile.
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Old 08-27-2017, 12:52 PM   #13
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Long thread on this in Mercedes Benz Sprinter Chassis sub forum:
http://www.forestriverforums.com/for...sel-96747.html

Sounds like the primary issue is potential oil dilution during the Diesel Particulate Filter clean cycle. What I understand from posts on this forum, during the DPF clean cycle the system pumps excess fuel into the cylinders so that the excess fuel passes through to and is burned in the DPF, heating it to the point of incinerating deposits. Some of this excess fuel can bipass the piston rings, diluting the oil. Normal diesel in the oil vaporizes; apparently the biodiesel vaporizes at a higher temperature, so the oil remains diluted.

My thoughts - I try to avoid over 5% biodiesel. Hasn't happened yet, but if I can't, I will use the lowest percentage I can find. I'll then watch the oil level closely, and if possible do an early oil change (I typically change at 8K to 9K miles).

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Old 08-27-2017, 01:29 PM   #14
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Cool

I know it's a real PITA, but at many major interstate intersections and in towns, straight #2 diesel can usually be found at the major gas stations ..e.g. Chevron, Sinclair, Mobile and others.

On a recent coast-to-coast trip, I noticed most of the major truck stops,e.g. Loves, Flying J, TA, Petro are steadily moving to bio. And to make matters worse, there's no real way to know the actual bio content at the pump!

I wonder if enough warranty claims are denied based on too much bio, a class-action suit (against diesel engine manufactures and/or RV sellers) would get any traction
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Old 08-27-2017, 01:47 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Dennise View Post
I know it's a real PITA, but at many major interstate intersections and in towns, straight #2 diesel can usually be found at the major gas stations ..e.g. Chevron, Sinclair, Mobile and others.

On a recent coast-to-coast trip, I noticed most of the major truck stops,e.g. Loves, Flying J, TA, Petro are steadily moving to bio. And to make matters worse, there's no real way to know the actual bio content at the pump!

I wonder if enough warranty claims are denied based on too much bio, a class-action suit (against diesel engine manufactures and/or RV sellers) would get any traction

On our trip we had the most problem on major interstates at the large stations (i.e., Love's, Pilot, Flying J). One of the truckers we met suggested that we look for small fueling stations that sell diesel at the lower prices. His argument was that conversion by the stations to bio-diesel was expensive. The big chains were able to more easily pay the up-front cost, but then pass the expense on to the consumer as a higher price per gallon. Smaller stations have to resist the expense and sell at a lower price. Not sure if this is true but it sounds good.

Sure seems like a class-action suit would surely be justified. It would probably be tough to figure out who is the major culprit - State, Federal, Car Manufacturer, Fuel Supplier?
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Old 08-27-2017, 01:52 PM   #16
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I've attached the MBS brochure from Illinois regarding biodiesel. It tells you what to check if you can't avoid blends higher than +5%.
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File Type: pdf illinois-mb-biodiesel-brochure.pdf (3.18 MB, 169 views)
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Old 08-27-2017, 01:53 PM   #17
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Thanks Jim. I didn't know any of this. The MBS Forester's have an oil level monitor and a maintenance odometer that counts down from 20,000 miles to let you know when to bring in the RV for an oil change and other routine maintenance. When I ask Mercedes they tell me they would be happy to take my money to do the oil change earlier but don't recommend it. Based upon your explanation it sounds like prematurely low oil level isn't the issue, and the recommended 20K mile interval should be ignored. Right?
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Old 08-27-2017, 02:07 PM   #18
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Hmm! Think Mercedes is worried that the bio-diesel issue will reduce sales? They recommend watching your oil level, but I am not sure I understand how since engine oil gets consumed during regular operation, and dilution from bio-diesel would keep the level in an "acceptable" range. I am wondering if Mercedes, and owners, should change the recommended oil change interval from 20K miles to 10K miles.
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Old 08-27-2017, 03:00 PM   #19
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Carolinablue- Oil change interval on our 2012 is 10000 miles. I understand Mercedes changed to a 20000 mile interval on newer models.
My thoughts (for what their worth) - I would check the oil level with the dipstick at every fill up if I were forced to use biodiesel over 5%. If I saw a significant increase in oil level, I'd start looking for a convenient oil change opportunity (no panic). My guess (from increased fuel consumption) is mine runs a DPF "regeneration" cycle only once every five or ten fuel fill ups - hopefully the regen cycle will miss the occasional tank of >5% biodiesel...

Also - noted the Mercedes comment about possible fuel filter / fuel injector issues. I have my fuel filter changed every other oil change ( so at about 16K to 18K miles). If I ever do use some over 5% biodiesel, I will have the fuel filter changed at the next oil service.
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Old 08-27-2017, 03:05 PM   #20
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I've only been buying diesel a few months, and one time of the five or six times I filled up did the pump state Bio Diesel, but I don't know what grade or % bc I didn't know to look. The pump handle was Yellow instead of Green. Is that an obvious indicator purposely for the Bio Diesel? I've only put 2600 miles on this new truck, and learn every day new things to watch for. Thanks for posting.
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