Here are top questions and answers about red dyed diesel you need to know. Find out what it is, who can use it, why it’s colored red, and more.
10 Useful FAQs About Red Diesel
What is red diesel?
Red diesel is a fuel that is for heavy equipment and off-road vehicles. This fuel is like regular diesel, but dyed red for identification purposes.
What is red dye diesel used for?
Red dye diesel fuels machinery and off-road vehicles in the construction and farming industries. It’s illegal to use this fuel in on-road vehicles, like consumer cars.
Why is red diesel dyed red?
Red diesel is dyed because it’s tax-exempt so off-road equipment can get jobs done cheaply. Fuels are dyed for identification purposes, since some have lower taxes than others. Congress and other federal agencies need to collect the right taxes while ensuring eco-friendly options are used correctly.
What vehicles can use red diesel?
From bulldozers to harvesters, there are a variety of vehicles and machinery that enjoy the low cost of red diesel fuel. Farmers use this diesel in harvesters, tractors, and other heavy equipment. Similarly, construction companies use red diesel in their engines for cranes, bobcats, bulldozers, backhoes, and generators. Other industries that use red diesel include aviation, mining, traveling road shows, carnivals, and even county fairs. These engines can use red diesel as long as they’re not transporting anything on public roads.
What is the difference between off-road diesel and on-road diesel?
On-road diesel refers to everyday vehicles that drive on-roads. Any vehicle that’s licensed for use on roads by the U.S. has to use on-road diesel found in gas stations.
Off-road diesel, refers to equipment or vehicles that do not drive on roads like tractors, bulldozers, and generators. You can’t put this kind of diesel in on-road vehicles because it’s illegal.
What is the difference between clear and dyed diesel?
Clear diesel fuels on-road vehicles and you can find it at gas stations throughout the United States. This diesel is for everyday vehicles like cars, SUVs, trucks, and marine vehicles. It has low sulfur content and is taxable.
Dyed diesel is fuel that is colored with a chemical additive for identification. Red is the most common dyed diesel, which fuels off-road vehicles and equipment. This kind of fuel is not taxed and has a higher sulfur content. Blue-dyed diesel is like red-dyed diesel, though it is for U.S government vehicles only.
What is the difference between green and red dyed diesel?
Green diesel, while not really green, is more eco-friendly than red diesel. It uses a petroleum refinement process that makes it chemically like refined oils, but with less fossil-fuel consumption and fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Waste grease, lipid-rich feedstock, and microalgae are in green diesel.
Red diesel is actually dyed red, and shows that the fuel must be for off-road vehicles and equipment because of its higher sulfur content. Red dyed diesel fuel is not taxed compared to consumer motor fuel, or on-road diesel.
Can red diesel damage your engine?
No, red diesel will not damage your engine or any other part of the car. Red diesel is the same as regular diesel, but with a red dye. Off-road equipment and vehicles have the same diesel motor as regular vehicles.
Why is red diesel illegal?
Red diesel is illegal for on-road vehicles because it’s not taxed. Federal and state governments have strict standards in place about its use in on-road engines. Distributors and fuel retailers cannot knowingly supply on-road vehicles with this type of fuel. Likewise, on-road drivers cannot knowingly use dyed diesel in their vehicles. While it’s nice not paying fuel taxes, if caught with red diesel you will face costly penalties or even jail time.
Law enforcement officers can take samples from any gas tank they suspect of using red dyed diesel illegally. Even removing dye completely from fuel is impossible and will be found with lab testing. Penalties for trying to remove red dye is a criminal offense and penalties are quite severe.
Is heating oil the same as red diesel?
No, heating oil is not the same as red diesel (off-road fuel). Though both are tax exempt and dyed red, they each have different sulfur contents. Heating oil has 500ppm of sulfur while red diesel has less than 15ppm. Note that red diesel can be a substitute for heating oil, but heating oil cannot substitute red diesel because of its high sulfur content which is bad for the environment.
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