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The Difference Between On-Road and Off-Road Diesel

Date:26-05-2022 | By: Redlines Diesel Trading

There are no chemical differences between on-road and off-road diesel. On-road diesel can be purchased from a local gas station. On the other hand, off-road diesel can only be bought through bulk distributors. The only differences you can find are its color, intended use, and cost. Before, off-road diesel had a higher sulfur content, which gave way to a smokier burn. Due to the changes in fuel specifications from the Environmental Protection Agency, the two fuels are similar except for the color.  

Diesel was sold in its natural state, with no added dyes. Industry regulations and standards require fuel suppliers to differentiate between on-road and off-road diesel. These colorings help to keep the environment clean and to notify the government on how to control fuel taxes. The buyers must understand the difference between on-road and off-road diesel.

What is On-Road Diesel?

On-road diesel is distributed without any color or dye. It is referred to as “clean diesel”. It is used for road vehicles and is available to the public. This fuel is seen at commercial gas stations as it is meant to be used in private cars and trucks that are seen on the roads every day. 

On-road diesel can also be used on boats since it has low levels of sulfur. This does not damage the water or the surrounding ecosystem.

What is Off-Road Diesel?

The off-road diesel is not available for public purchase, it occasionally appears at a rural gas station. It is dyed red and is used for off-road vehicles like generators, tractors, and construction equipment. The performance of both on-road and off-road diesel is the same, except for state regulations. 

Off-road diesel is similar to conventional diesel fuel, but it is limited to certain applications as per government incentives. Using off-road diesel for private reasons is considered to be illegal. It is classified as tax evasion.

The Difference Between On-Road and Off-Road Diesel

Off-Road Diesel is More Affordable

The most common question customers ask us is if they can use off-road diesel and how much money they will save. One of the most important differences between on-road and off-road diesel is the cost. There is no tax on off-road diesel which makes it cheaper than on-road diesel. 

Before you get excited about the savings, there are a lot of rules that you should follow. If you use off-road diesel in your truck or car that you drive, it is illegal and you are breaking the law. 

This is the main reason why off-road diesel is dyed red for the officials to see the red color. Another way to detect the red color is to use fluorescent UV light. 

Off-road Diesel Dyed Red

The on-road is also called “clean diesel” because just like the name, it is crystal clear. When comparing on-road diesel and off-road diesel, the most significant visual difference is in its color. While on-road diesel is clear, off-road diesel is dyed red which is why it is also called “dyed diesel” or “red diesel”. 

They are dyed for the public to understand and identify which is on-road and off-road. This also allows law officials to understand the type of diesel used at a glance. 

Taxed Diesel vs Untaxed Diesel

Since off-road diesel is not used on public roads, there is no tax implied on them which makes them cheaper than on-road diesel. The on-road diesel is subject to the excise tax which makes them expensive when compared to off-road diesel. 

There are no differences in the performance of on-road and off-road diesel. It is better to use untaxed diesel for businesses operating vehicles as it can be expensive to use on-road diesel. They can use on-road diesel but they will have to unnecessarily pay the federal and state taxes. 


What Vehicles Require Off-Road Diesel?

To be precise, no vehicle needs off-road diesel. Every vehicle with an engine can use the on-road diesel. However, this causes an extra burden on construction firms, farmers, and those who do not use the public roads. 

Off-road diesel is used for all the vehicles not being driven on the road. Machines such as tractors, generators, and construction equipment that are not run on public roads mostly use off-road diesel. It can also be used on heavy agricultural machinery or operating construction, heating homes, and power generators. It is against the law to use off-road diesel passenger or commercial vehicles that run on public roads.

As off-road diesel is designed for non-highway use, it is illegal to use this fuel in your private truck that runs on public roads. 



In the end, the only difference between both on-road and off-road diesel is its cost, color, and use. There is no difference in their performance or their making. The only required condition on on-road and off-road diesel is Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel (ULSD) should be no more than 15 ppm Sulphur. 

Redlines International, a fuel trading company in UAE can directly deliver fuel to your doorstep. Ensure top-quality diesel for your vehicles with us. Our fuel is completely pliable with environmental regulations which have helped us become the top diesel fuel supplier in UAE

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