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What Is Red Diesel Fuel?

Does color really make a difference?

Jul 6, 2020
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The headline of this one says it all. We're on a mission to define what "red" diesel fuel is, give you examples of what its uses are, and get to the bottom of facts and fictions about how it differs from the No. 2 diesel that most owners and enthusiasts are familiar with.
From a composition and chemical standpoint, red diesel (it's actually called "Cherry Juice" in some places), is exactly the same fluid as No. 2 fuel that's used in the trucks, buses and some cars on our roads. The big difference between them is red fuel is used for engines that power off-road vehicles, as well as machines like tractors and bulldozers that are used on farms and at construction sites.
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The color, called Solvent Red 26, is the U.S. standard established by Internal Revenue Service regulation 26 C.F.R. 48.4082-1. The dye was selected to identify the fuel versus clear diesel because of the unique laws that prohibit its use in rigs that are driven on public streets. We are all aware of and complain about taxes that are assessed on the fuel we buy. Because of its price, which typically is much lower than the cost for No. 2 fuel, red diesel is subject to a rebated tax. Using a color-code ID system helps bring clarity to identifying the exemptions for certain fuels (home-heating oil, for example). Fuel used in airplanes can be red, purple, blue, or green. Diesel is also dyed blue in such countries as France, Portugal, Ireland and Spain.
Although red diesel certainly will "work" in our daily driven rigs, using it in street-operated trucks is not advised. You could face having to pay high fines and penalties for tax evasion (state, not federal) if caught using red diesel on public roads.
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Photo 4/5   |   04 Red Diesel Fuel
Off-road diesel is blended by most major oil companies (Shell, Chevron, Texaco, etc.) and sold by distributors in farming and agricultural areas and other locations where there potentially is a high demand for the fuel. If you need to find the fuel for your diesel vehicle, the Commercial Fueling Network's web site features a really cool search tool that can point you straight to it.
On a non-related, but interesting-nonetheless note, apparently there's also a "Red Diesel" strain of marijuana that's very popular. Head to your nearest dispensary if you're looking for that.
Photo 5/5   |   05 Red Diesel Fuel

Sources

Bluffton Diesel Service
419-889-9606
Commercial Fueling Network
https://www.cfnnnet.com

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