Diesel fuel sold without dye added, known as clear diesel, is a road-grade product that is available to the general public at regular gas stations. This type of gasoline is meant for use by the vehicles that travel the roads everyday like cars, trucks, and SUVs. Clear diesel fuel can also be used in boats.
Clear diesel has low sulfur levels and is legally taxable. Any vehicle that has a diesel engine and is licensed by the state for on-road use must use the clear fuel.
Most dyed diesel sold in the U.S. comes with a red coloring and is not usually available for purchase by the public. However, you may occasionally see this product at a fuel station. By law, red diesel fuel is only sold for use in off-road vehicles like tractors, heavy construction equipment, and generators. Because it is not supposed to be used for on-road purposes, this fuel is not taxed within the United States.
Diesel that is designated for use by U.S. government vehicles is dyed blue instead of red. This color variation helps to keep clear fuel used by the general public separate from that used by government on-road vehicles.
A common misconception about dyed diesel fuel is that it causes loss of performance when used. There is no proven link between the different dyes and lost performance because the chemical make-up of dyed and clear diesel is the same.
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