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What’s The Difference Between Clear Vs. Dyed Diesel?

Get Dependable Bulk Diesel and Wholesale Diesel Fuel Services With Jack F. Corse

diesel fuel types

If you’re new to buying diesel fuel – or haven’t bought it in a long time – you might notice that your diesel fuel buying is a little more colorful than it used to be.

The reason for this is that the United States Government has mandated that diesel gas must be sold in one of three forms: clear, red dye, or blue dye. It is important to be aware of the tax and legal distinctions between these three types if you intend to purchase diesel fuel.
Jack F. Corse Inc. is the area’s leader in reliable diesel fuel services. We deliver ultra-low-sulfur dyed or ultra-low-sulfur clear diesel fuel in quantities from as little as 100 gallons to as many as 10,000 gallons to farms, construction sites, sugarhouses, and ski resorts in our New England service area.

Using bulk and wholesale diesel fuel delivery is a cost-effective way to save your business money. It improves worker efficiency and productivity as your diesel fuel supply is on-site and time isn’t lost going to off-site filling stations. And, by using one source for your diesel fuel supply, managing your fuel costs is easier and more efficient.

We have a fleet of well-maintained vehicles and a team of delivery drivers dedicated to prompt, safe diesel fuel delivery.

If you operate a construction company or other business that has diesel-powered equipment, we can help you there, too, with off-road diesel that can be delivered right to your place of business.

Here is a short primer on diesel fuels:

Clear diesel – Clear diesel is an on-road vehicle-grade fuel that is available for sale at gas stations throughout the U.S. This type of fuel is meant for use by the vehicles that travel the roads every day – cars, trucks, SUVs, snowplows, etc. – along with marine vehicles. Clear diesel has a low sulfur content and is legally taxable. Any diesel-powered vehicle licensed for on-road use must use this fuel.

Red-Dyed diesel – Most dyed diesel sold in the U.S. is red in color, as it is dyed with the chemical additive Solvent Red 26 or 164. Red-dyed gas may only be used in off-road vehicles and applications, including farm tractors, heavy construction equipment, and generators. Red-dyed diesel contains a higher sulfur content than clear diesel. Because it is not to be used for on-road vehicles, this fuel is not taxed within the U.S.

Blue-Dyed diesel – Blue-dyed diesel is identical to red-dyed diesel, except that it is used in U.S. Government vehicles and equipment only.

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Why can’t I use dyed diesel in an on-road vehicle?

The federal excise tax is not applicable to off-road diesel because it is not used for transportation purposes. To distinguish off-road diesel from on-road diesel, the red dye is added to it. Penalties for using off-road diesel in on-road vehicles are severe and can result in hefty fines for each violation.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) enforces the use of dyed diesel fuel. If you use off-road diesel in a vehicle meant for on-road use, you may face a penalty of up to $1,000 per violation and a tax of $6 per gallon of the dyed diesel fuel used if caught. States also apply penalties. In Vermont, the penalty is $10 per gallon or $1,000 per violation.

What equipment and vehicles use off-road diesel fuels?

Many industries in New England use off-road diesel, including construction, paving, ski resorts, and agriculture. These are the kinds of equipment that off-road diesel fuels:

  • tractors
  • commercial mowers
  • ski trail graders
  • irrigation equipment
  • snow-making machines
  • bulldozers
  • backhoes
  • compactors
  • backup motors for electric ski lifts
  • excavators
  • graders
  • cranes
  • wheel loaders
  • trenchers
  • lifts

Off-road diesel can be used for commercial standby generators that turn on automatically during power outages. These generators are commonly used in hospitals, healthcare facilities, nursing homes, ski resorts, and rehab centers.

How are on-road diesel and off-road diesel made?

In the United States, both on-road and off-road diesel fuels are types of ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) that are made from refined crude oil at petroleum plants and contain 15 parts-per-million or less of sulfur.

In 2021, the United States produced 1.63 billion barrels, which is equivalent to 68.35 billion gallons, of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel.

Diesel fuels are being made more eco-friendly by using biodiesels, which come from sources like plant oils and animal fats. This blending process reduces emissions and also helps to lower engine wear. So, alongside reducing sulfur content, biodiesels are another advancement in making on-road and off-road diesel more environmentally friendly.

Looking for supplier of quality on, or off-road, diesel fuel for your New England farm, construction company, factory, or other business? We can help! Contact us today to learn more, or to become a Jack F. Corse customer.