Off-road diesel isn’t legal for highway use, and it’s a lot cheaper than on-road diesel. But where is it sold, and what are the differences?
You can acquire off-road diesel through delivery services or at special fueling stations. These are common in agricultural and industrial areas, but you usually need a state-approved permit to purchase off-road diesel.
In this article, we’ll cover a few of the best places to get off-road diesel. Additionally, we’ll go over the legality of using off-road diesel, its differences with on-road diesel, and where it can be used legally.
The information used in this article was sourced from off-road diesel providers. Additionally, we referenced laws regarding the use of off-road and on-road diesel fuel.
This article may contain affiliate links where we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.
Off-Road Diesel vs. Highway Diesel
Chemically, there’s no difference between off-road diesel and highway diesel. This is in contrast to other fuels such as kerosene, which comes in different varieties for indoor use, outdoor use, and aviation.
Diesel available to off-road vehicles, farm equipment, and industrial transportation is simply taxed differently and is less expensive to use. There are no environmental benefits or drawbacks to off-road diesel when compared to regular on-road diesel.
Is Off-Road Diesel Red?
Yes, diesel sold for off-road and agricultural use is typically dyed red. This distinguishes it from on-road diesel, which is taxed at an increased rate.
Similar dyes are also used in fuels such as kerosene, which is often dyed blue to distinguish it from aviation gas or other more volatile fuels. Regular on-road diesel often has a tinge of green dye added to it, while red diesel uses Solvent Red 26 dye.
Red diesel is also used as heating oil in many locations. There are different weights to fuel oil, such as ‘Bunker C’ or ‘No. 3’ fuel oil, which denotes their quality and energy capacity. Diesel for heating is basically the same as No. 2 heating oil.
Can You Use Off-Road Diesel on a Highway?
No, there are almost no circumstances where an off-road vehicle using off-road fuel can use a highway. Exceptions include certain situations where traversing a public road is necessary to access an agricultural site and things of that nature.
There’s nothing wrong with possessing off-road diesel at home or on your own property. It just can’t typically be used in your daily driver to go to the grocery store or to visit family out of town.
Using red diesel on a highway is a big no-no with law enforcement. The fines for using the ‘wrong kind of fuel on public roads are quite high, especially because off-road diesel is significantly less expensive than on-road diesel.
Where to Get Red Diesel For Off-Road Use
Off-road diesel isn’t available at most traditional gas stations. You’re more likely to find it in rural areas where industrial and agricultural operations rely on tax-free diesel fuel.
Red Diesel Delivery Services
Delivery services can deliver off-road diesel directly to your property. This is often what occurs if you have a feedlot with above-ground fuel tanks, which is common on farms and ranches.
Some of the companies that deliver off-road diesel also deliver coal and heating oil, so you can coordinate refueling of various tanks or fuel bunkers at the same time.
Agricultural and commercial fueling stations are another option. They operate a lot like regular gas stations, but they sell different types of diesel for different applications.
To be clear, off-road diesel pumps are marked differently than on-road pumps, and they’re not for standard diesel vehicles.
Some red diesel fueling stations operate on a company or membership basis. These stations are located around the country and only serve people with a specific card or spending account.
This is convenient for farmers who frequently send workers to fill a variety of vehicles or for people who get regular red diesel deliveries.
Where Can I Use Off-Road Diesel?
Generally, the only places you’re allowed to use off-road diesel are on your own property and for agricultural use. You’re not allowed to use it on public highways, which often includes dirt roads that one might consider ‘off-road.’
But on your farm or ranch, you’re free to use red diesel as heating oil, tractor fuel, generator fuel, and for farm vehicles.