Effects of biodiesel on diesel engines: John Deere

[ Since petroleum is finite, the most important focus of U.S. energy research ought to be keeping trucks operating, since civilization ends when trucks stop running.  Ideally this would be done with a “drop-in” fuel that can be burned in existing diesel engines so we don’t have to scrap the trillions of dollars we have invested in trucks, and transportation and oil pipeline infrastructure and to save the enormous amount of energy, cost, and materials required to build a new fuel distribution system, service stations, new/modified trucks and so on.

Since the most important trucks are the ones that plant and harvest food, here’s what John Deere has to say about using biodiesel in their engines.

For an even more detailed account of how biodiesel affects engines made to burn petroleum-based diesel, see:

Radich, A. 2004. Biodiesel performance, costs, and use. Energy Information Administration. http://www.eia.gov/oiaf/analysispaper/biodiesel/

Alice Friedemann   www.energyskeptic.com  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer and “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”. Podcasts:  KunstlerCast 253, KunstlerCast278, Peak Prosperity]

John Deere. 2016. Using Biodiesel in John Deere Engines.

All John Deere engines can use biodiesel blends. B5 blends are preferred, but concentrations up to 20 percent (B20) can be used providing the biodiesel used in the fuel blend meets the standards set by the American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM) D6751 or European Standard (EN) 14214.

John Deere engines with exhaust filters should not use biodiesel blends above B20. Concentrations above B20 may harm the engine’s emissions control system. Specific risks include, but are not limited to, more frequent regeneration, soot accumulation, and increased intervals for ash removal. For these engines, John Deere-approved fuel conditioners containing detergent/dispersant additives are required when using B20, and recommended when using lower biodiesel blends.

John Deere engines without exhaust filters can operate on biodiesel blends below and above B20 (up to 100 percent biodiesel); however, they should be operated at levels above B20 ONLY if the biodiesel is permitted by law and meets the EN 14214 specification. Engines operating on biodiesel blends above B20 may not fully comply with or be permitted by all applicable emissions regulations. For these engines, John Deere-approved fuel conditioners containing detergent/dispersant additives are required when using biodiesel blends of B20 or higher, and recommended when using lower biodiesel blends.

Biodiesel impacts all diesel engines — no matter what brand. In an effort to ensure every John Deere engine user enjoys a positive experience, we want you to know the benefits as well as the cautions of using biodiesel.

Material compatibility

  • Through repeated exposure, biodiesel can seep through certain seals, gaskets, hoses, elastomers, glues, and plastics. This is more of a problem in older engines.
  • Natural rubber, nitrile, and butyl rubber are particularly vulnerable to degradation.
  • Brass, bronze, copper, lead, tin, and zinc can accelerate the oxidation of biodiesel and create deposits in the engine.


  • Compared to conventional petroleum diesel fuel, B20 will result in slight reductions in power and fuel economy. Expect a 2% reduction in power and a 3% reduction in fuel economy when using B20 biodiesel. Expect up to a 12% reduction in power and an 18% reduction in fuel economy when using B100.
  • Biodiesel can accelerate the degradation of crankcase oil.
  • When using biodiesel fuel, the engine oil level must be checked daily.
  • In no instance should the fuel dilution of the oil be allowed to exceed 5%. OILSCAN™ can be used to verify fuel dilution levels.
  • Fuel should be sampled periodically to ensure a consistent percentage of biodiesel.
  • Biodiesel can reduce water separator efficiency.
  • Biodiesel can cause cold weather flow degradation.

Storage and Handling

  • To improve storage of biodiesel fuels, John Deere recommends the use of a fuel conditioner. To be effective, the conditioner needs to be added when the fuel is fresh (close to the time it is produced). Periodic testing of the fuel is recommended to ensure it continues to meet specifications.
  • Fuel conditioners can improve fuel flow in cold temperatures and oxidation stability in the summer.
  • Tanks should be kept as full as possible to minimize condensation because water accelerates microbial growth.
  • Acceptable storage tank materials include aluminum, steel, fluorinated polyethylene, fluorinated polypropylene, Teflon®, and most fiberglass.
  • Sedimentation and water should be removed on a routine basis.
  • New fuel filters should be installed when biodiesel is introduced to older or used engines. For the first two changes, the fuel filter life will be half the standard.
  • Biodiesel might cause corrosion and deposit formation due to higher acidity.


  • Users are responsible for compliance with local emissions regulations limiting the use of biodiesel in emissions-certified engines.
  • Biodiesel tends to increase NOx emissions while reducing smoke.
  • The use of biodiesel blends above B20 can impact the performance and maintenance of exhaust filters.

This list of considerations is not intended to be all-inclusive. Consult your engine operators manual, your local John Deere engine distributor or equipment dealer, or visit www.JohnDeere.com/biodiesel for more information.


  • The John Deere warranty covers only defects in material and workmanship as manufactured and sold by John Deere. Failures caused by poor quality fuel of any type cannot be compensated under our warranty.
  • IMPORTANT: Raw pressed vegetable oils are NOT acceptable for use as fuel in any concentration in John Deere engines. Their use could cause engine failure.
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