Dye is added to diesel fuel to indicate its intended use and if specific taxes have been paid or been exempted from. The purpose of diesel fuel dye is to differentiate between diesel fuel that is intended for on-road and off-road use. The dyed or no dyed fuel indicates too enforcement officers so they can identify issues if someone is doing the wrong thing.
Dyed fuel helps keep the industry and end users accountable which ensures that diesel fuel is being used as per the law and tax regulations, well most of the time.
In this article, I will provide you with all you need to know about diesel fuel dye and compliance regulations.
Intro to Diesel Fuel Dye and Compliance Regulations
Red fuel is also commonly called marked fuel, farm fuel, and “red-dyed” diesel.
Off-road red colored diesel fuel is intended to be used in equipment and vehicles that are not operated on a regular public road, typically this fuel would be used in equipment on farms, train locomotives, forklifts, construction equipment, marine equipment, miscellaneous equipment and electric power generators.
On-road clear colored fuel is intended for use for any vehicle or equipment operating on a public road. This typically includes cars, trucks or similar vehicles.
Key Points to Note
- Off-road diesel fuel is usually dyed with a red chemical, this dye indicates the fuel is intended for off-road equipment and vehicles, typically it has not had or will not have fuel taxes paid (by rebates) on the sales price. Red diesel fuel by law should not be used to power (propel) a vehicle or equipment operating on a public road. The only exceptions for on-road use could be something like a refrigerated road transport unit that can use off-road fuel to power the engine for the fridge plant either mounted on the truck itself or on the trailer unit.
- On-road (regular) diesel fuel used in everyday transport equipment and vehicles is a clear color normally. This fuel has tax paid on the sales price.
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Purpose of Diesel Fuel Dye
The purpose of diesel fuel dye is to differentiate between diesel fuel that is intended for on-road and off-road use. On-road diesel fuel is subject to federal and state fuel taxes, while off-road diesel fuel is exempt from these taxes.
The use of diesel fuel dye helps ensure that off-road diesel fuel is not being used for on-road purposes, and thus, not subject to the proper taxes.
Diesel fuel dye helps prevent tax evasion. If diesel fuel were not dyed, it would be difficult to determine whether the fuel was being used for on-road or off-road purposes so off-road tax free fuel would be used by regular road users without fear of being caught.
Depending on where you live red fuel may be available to purchase, the seller by law must clearly state the legal uses of the fuel at point of purchase.
Different Diesel Dye Colors
The dye color indicates what the diesel can be used for by law or intended applications.
- Red: Red diesel is the most common type of dyed diesel. Red diesel can only be used in off-road vehicles and machinery.
- Blue: Blue diesel is not available for public purchase. Blue diesel is only used for government vehicles and equipment.
- Green: Green (regular) diesel isn’t dyed. The green in the name refers to it being a more eco friendly fuel for on-road use.
Other colors used outside the USA can be purple dyes, yellow dyes, blue dyes and green dyes to differentiate from regular diesel.
Regulations for Diesel Fuel Dye
The use of diesel fuel dye is regulated by federal and state laws. Federal law requires that all diesel fuel that is intended for on-road use be dyed with red dye. Federal law also requires that diesel fuel retailers keep records of their sales and make the records available upon request.
State laws may vary regarding the use of diesel fuel dye. Some states may require that diesel fuel that is intended for off-road use be dyed with a specific color other than red. Some states may also have additional record-keeping requirements for diesel fuel retailers.
Benefits of Diesel Fuel Dye
The use of diesel fuel dye provides several benefits. One benefit is that it helps ensure that diesel fuel is being used for its intended purposes. This helps prevent tax evasion and ensures that fuel taxes are being paid in the correct application. Another benefit is that it helps keep the users of diesel fuel accountable and paying the correct taxes.
Types of Diesel Fuel Dye
There are several types of diesel fuel dye available depending on the country or area. The most common type of diesel fuel dye is Solvent Red 164. Other types of diesel fuel dye include Solvent Blue 35 and Solvent Green 3.
Impact of Red Diesel Fuel on Engine Performance
Red Diesel has no impact on engine performance. Generally off-road red diesel may have a higher sulfur content than regular fuel, this may create a smokier burn but it’s fine to use in any diesel engine – just don’t get caught using it in the wrong application.
Compliance Requirements for Diesel Fuel Dye
Compliance requirements also include keeping records of diesel fuel sales and making the records available upon request.
Diesel fuel retailers usually must also provide their customers with a display statement that explains the intended use of the diesel fuel they are purchasing.
The statement must include a warning that using the fuel for unintended purposes is illegal depending on the local laws.
How to Test for Diesel Fuel Dye Compliance
There are several ways to test for diesel fuel dye compliance. The most common method is to use a test kit that is designed to detect the presence of diesel fuel dye.
The test strip is dipped into the diesel fuel sample, and the color is compared to the color comparator. If the color of the diesel fuel matches the color on the color comparator, then the diesel fuel is compliant.
Penalties for Non-Compliance
Non-compliance with diesel fuel dye regulations can result in penalties. Penalties may include min fines of $1000 and more. The specific penalties may vary depending on the severity of the violation and the state or country where the violation occurred.
In conclusion, diesel fuel dye is an essential component of ensuring that diesel fuel is being used for its intended purposes and taxes have been paid accordingly.
Compliance regulations help keep the industry accountable and ensure that diesel fuel is being used for it’s intended purpose.
Failure to comply with diesel fuel use by on or off-road regulations can result in penalties.
NB: This info may change over time so accuracy cannot be assured. This information is USA focused and may be not relevant for other countries. Example of different regulations on dyed fuel, it can be used in forklifts in the USA but in the UK it’s not allowed.