What Color Is Diesel Fuel?

Does It Matter What Color I Use in My Vehicles?

Not many passenger cars run on diesel, so for most people it’s the stuff the big rigs fill up on, and they don’t give it much more thought. Big trucks have diesel engines because they have more power, while gasoline engines offer more speed. But if you operate diesel-powered vehicles, you may have noticed that there’s two types of ultra-low sulfur diesel : on-road and off-road.

From a chemical perspective, both fuels are identical. So what’s the difference? On-road diesel is clear, while off-road diesel is dyed a red color. Because off-road diesel is only for use in farm vehicles, construction equipment and vehicles that do not operate on public roads. Fuel for those types of vehicles is not taxed, so the cost is lower. The red dye identifies it as untaxed fuel—and the fines are hefty if you get caught using it on an on-road vehicle.

Not sure what type of fuel is right for your fleet, or which of your vehicles might qualify for off-road fuel and the tax break? Check out our diesel fuel FAQ:

Where are you driving your diesel vehicles? If you’re fleet is operating on public roads, such as highways or public streets, you’ll need to fill them up with on-road diesel. Off-road diesel is only for use on private property, such as on a construction site or a farm. Keep in mind that Federal rules for on- and off-road vehicles apply everywhere, specific uses may be permitted in different states.

What type of vehicle is it? Trucks, cars, buses and other diesel-engine vehicles that travel on roads, streets and highways take on-road diesel fuel. Vehicles and other equipment such as generators, tractors, forklifts and construction vehicles can use off-road fuel.

Where do you get your fuel? You can only get on-road fuel at a gas station, but you can get bulk delivery of on- or -off road diesel to your location or work site.

Can you use on- and off-road fuels interchangeably? Technically, yes. Other than the dye, the two types of fuel are the same. (In the past, off-road diesel produced more emissions, but since 2014, emissions standards, sulfur content, and fuel quality are the same for both on-road and off-road diesel.) However, while you can use on-road diesel in off-road vehicles, it’s illegal to use off-road diesel in on-road vehicles because the two fuels are taxed differently.

Is performance the same? Yes. There’s zero difference in the performance of vehicles using on-road versus off-road fuel. The big difference is in the price, because of the tax on on-road fuel.

Need Commercial Fleet Fueling?

Whether you need clear or red-dyed diesel for your farm, construction, manufacturing, or other business, Southville Petroleum has you covered. With 30-plus years of experience supporting businesses and farms across central Long Island, you know you can count on us for reliable diesel fuel service. We provide on- and off-road diesel fuel, with bulk deliveries as well as on-site fueling stations to save you time and money.

Our team can assess your needs and help you schedule and manage your fuel deliveries. We’ll also help you track your fuel usage to reduce waste, and improve efficiency.

We’re always here to take your call. Contact us today to find out how we can make doing business easier for you.