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What Color Is Diesel Fuel—and Does It Matter?

Why Some Diesel Is Dyed — And When You Should Use It

diesel fueling manchester, vermont When your business depends on fuel to keep a fleet on the road, that fuel is more than just a line item in your budget — it’s a necessity.

Diesel has on-road and off-road uses that make it indispensable for many businesses. From a chemical and performance perspective, both fuels are identical. But using the right fuel in the right vehicle or equipment can be the difference between tax savings and hefty fines.

That’s why off-road diesel is a pink or red color. On-road diesel is clear and undyed with a naturally yellow tint.

Off-road diesel powers farm and construction equipment, forklifts, trains, water vessels, power generators and heavy machinery. It isn’t used for vehicles that operate on public roads. Off-road diesel is not taxed, so the cost is lower. The red dye identifies it as untaxed fuel — and the penalties if you get caught using it in an on-road vehicle are expensive.

Not sure what type of diesel fuel is right for your business? Check out our diesel fuel FAQ:

Where are you driving your diesel vehicles?

If your 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?

While both fuels are the same (other than the dye), you can’t use off-road diesel on a public road. However, you can use on-road diesel in off-road vehicles (although you’ll be spending more than you need to). 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.

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, Dorr Oil has you covered. With 20-plus years of experience supporting businesses and farms across southwestern Vermont, 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.