Red diesel for off road use

by | Apr 22, 2013 | Business

Diesel fuel can be used for vehicles as well as home heating oil. Furthermore, there are multiple uses for vehicles, most use public roads and thoroughfares but others use off road diesel fuel. Although the fuel is basically the same, the difference in usage has an impact on the price.


Home heating oil is used as a source of heat; it does not propel a vehicle. The diesel used for heating and off road use is not subject to road use tax but as it can most certainly be used in a vehicle which uses the roads, there must be a way to identify it. The Off Road Diesel Fuel is dyed a red color to differentiate it from white diesel which is that used for on-road vehicles. Diesel fuel used for automobiles is also slightly lower in sulfur content as well but not enough to make it unusable in a car.

Although the dye can be removed from red diesel, the fuel still contains chemical tracers that can easily identify it as red diesel, even though it does not look like it. Using red diesel for anything other than home heating oil and off road diesel fuel is a crime; the penalties for breaking the law are harsh as the crime is considered tax evasion. If there is any reason to think that red diesel is being used illegally, the police are equipped with devices which can differentiate the fuel, either legal or illegal.

Who can use off road diesel fuel?

Red diesel can legally be used when farming the land and in agriculture, horticulture and forestry. It can also be used by construction firms who employ vehicles which use diesel as their fuel and never travel on the roads other than on a trailer. This equipment would include bulldozers, backhoes, diesel gen sets, skid loaders, cranes, etc. It is also legal to use red diesel in stationary engines used in travelling road shows, carnivals and fairs. The issue is the road, if the equipment will never be used on the road, it can use tax exempt fuel.

The penalties:

Although each state sets its own penalties, the basics are somewhat similar. In one state that was reviewed, the penalty is $10 per gallon. If the vehicle has a 35 gallon capacity tank, the fine is $350. On top of the fine for illegal use, the fuel tax of $0.225 per gallon is imposed. If the IRS, a federal agency finds the individual misusing red diesel, the fine, over and above the state minimum is plus $1,000.

It is possible to be caught and fined for using off road diesel fuel even if you have legal white diesel in the tank. If you have had red diesel in the tank recently, the dye can permeate the pores of the tank material and take some time to cleanse itself.

Off road diesel fuel for use in construction equipment, agricultural equipment and home heating is available from Petroleum Kings. The fuel is premium quality allowing for increased fuel economy, power and efficiency.

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