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-   -   The Official Red Dye / Offroad Diesel FAQ (https://www.dieselplace.com/forum/76-speciality-forums/64-maintenance-fluids/415525-official-red-dye-offroad-diesel-faq.html)

PrivatePilot 03-20-2011 02:04 AM

The Official Red Dye / Offroad Diesel FAQ
With fuel prices once again skyrocketing a question we are seeing pop up in many forums here is "Can I run red dye fuel in my truck"?

Many here have probably noticed the "Dyed Diesel" or "Offroad Diesel" pumps at some fuel stations or truck stops. The temptation is there to fuel up your pickup with the cheap fuel from these pumps.

However, are you aware of the ramifications? If the answer to this question is not entirely clear to you, continue reading. This is a several part question, requiring several answers.

"Can I burn red dyed diesel in my pickup truck without hurting it?".

Generally, the answer is yes. Typically "Red Dye" diesel is nothing more than regular USLD with a red dye added. Contrary to many old tales of the dye causing problems with engines, it's nothing more than myth - your engine couldn't care less if the fuel was dyed pink or purple, it'll still burn it.

In years passed (since the introduction of ULSD) reportedly SOME red-dye diesel was actually still LSD (Low Sulphur Diesel), not USLD (Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel). Trying to utilize LSD in newer trucks that specially require ULSD to run properly could present problems and possibly damage emissions equipment.

That said, since 2007 most diesel pumped at any station in the USA or Canada is ULSD, regardless if it's on-road (clear) diesel, or off-road (dyed) diesel. By December 1, 2010, all highway diesel fuel was mandated by law to be ULSD. Non-road diesel fuel was required to move to 500 ppm sulfur in 2007, and further to ULSD in 2010.

So, LSD is all but unheard of now, so red-dye or not, there's a virtually 100% chance that you are getting ULSD, and your engine will be just fine with it.


"Why is red dye diesel so much less expensive than regular diesel?"

Because red-dye diesel is designed exclusively for non-taxed off-road or commercial equipment (such as a lawn tractor, bobcat, or generator) usage. The normal taxes that are part of "regular" diesel are excluded on dyed "off road" diesel fuel, hence the lower cost.

What is "Off road" mean?

If you have a diesel generator you are not obligated to pay road-taxes on the fuel it burns, so you burn red-dye diesel. If you have a tractor on a farm that is used exclusively for off-road use, again, you are fine using red-dye diesel. If you have an UNLICENSED pickup truck that is used solely for off-road use, then you can even run red dyed diesel in the pickup truck and be entirely legal.

"Ok, but I have a LICENCED pickup truck, why can't I burn red-dye diesel?

Simple answer - because red dye diesel does not have road-taxes as part of it's cost, using it on-road is considered tax evasion. For most here, those two words are enough to strike fear into your hearts, and the decision becomes clear - DON'T RISK IT.

Don't think you will ever get caught? Sure, your luck may last years, but the government (and the people that enforce the laws on behalf of the government) aren't stupid - the red-dye pumps are watched, and random vehicle inspections are not unheard of. To the contrary, with more and more people taking the risk of burning red-dye on road, they are becoming quite frequent in many areas.

Get caught and the fines typically start at about $1000. For example, here in Ontario (Canada) the law reads as follows:


Anyone committing an offence relating to the improper use of coloured fuel/dyed diesel in Ontario is liable to a fine on first offence of $440.

Fines of up to $1,000,000 and/or imprisonment for up to two years are possible for other offences under the Fuel Tax Act, such as tampering with coloured fuel or seals and labels.

Offenders will also be audited and may be assessed tax, penalties and interest. Assessed penalties for the improper use of dyed diesel or tampering with coloured fuel may be as severe as 13 times the tax. Keep all your fuel receipts.
Picking a random US state (Montana), here's the law:


Using untaxed fuel (dyed diesel) in a licensed vehicle violates Montana's law and reduces the money available to build and maintain Montana state highways.

The penalties for using dyed fuel on public roads in Montana are:

1st offense
up to $1,000.00 - Civil Penalty

2nd offense
up to $5,000.00 - Civil Penalty

3rd and subsequent offense
Criminal Penalty - minimum fine $535.00 - maximum $1,000.00 or by imprisonment for not less than 30 days or more than 6 months, or both
Most laws are very similar with the financial penalties being higher in some, and lower in others, but in all situations it's considered a serious offence and can open a huge legal can of worms, aside from the fine itself.

Ask yourself if it's worth saving a few dollars per tank for the worry of being caught and penalized.

"I'm going to use my pickup truck off-road exclusively for a month for work, but then put it back on road - can I use dyed diesel for that one month?

In almost all jurisdictions the law uses the word "Licensed" to either allow or disallow off-road (dyed) fuel use. If, during that one month (or however long it may be) you COMPLETELY remove all licensing from the pickup truck then, technically, yes, you can use dyed fuel in your pickup truck.

Just yanking off your licence plates doesn't count, either - you will have to visit your local DMV and remove all traces of the vehicle being licensed whatsoever.

However, at the conclusion of that time period, when you re-licence the truck you will have to return to regular on-road (clear) diesel, and it would be very wise to ensure ALL traces of red-dye fuel is removed from the fuel system. Even a few gallons of red-dyed diesel can contaminate a tank full of clear diesel, and the law doesn't care how faint the dye is, if it's there, you're screwed.

Basically, you'd have to switch back to clear diesel at least 4 to 5 FULL tankfulls of fuel before you plan on placing the truck back to on-road service again in order to fully flush the fuel tank and fuel system of all the red dye, at which point you would be legal to re-licence your truck and place it back in "on road" service again.

Ultimately, if all this hassle is worth the effort and time is up to you. If you are talking a LOT of off-road mileage over a long period of time (6 months or more) then it may be worthwhile, but for a month or two, it's unlikely to be financially beneficial.

"Does the dye leave permanent traces in my fuel system, dying metal parts and leaving telltale signals that can't be removed?"

Again, this is mostly unfounded rumor. The dye does not "sink into" metals and leave any permanent traces behind once flushed out with clear diesel. The only exception may be fuel filters where the red dye can stain the filter elements and leave traces of red-dye usage, but a simple filter change will remedy any concerns there.

"So, how would they ever know? Once the fuel is in my tank they can't see it!"

Roadside enforcement of diesel fuel typically involves the officer taking a "dip" of your tank. They will lower a device down the filler neck and remove a sample of the fuel that's actually in your tank to check for dye. It's quick, and very effective.

"Can't I just refuse a roadside fuel test if I get pulled over?"

Sure, but many jurisdictions consider a refusal to test as a dire offence, sometimes equaling the worst-case-scenario fine that would otherwise result from several failed tests. You'll receive a signifigant fine and possibly even a summons to appear in court and explain yourself. In some areas your vehicle could be seized. Even if you decide to eat the costs and hassle of this, you'll find yourself on a very short list of people for future monitoring by law enforcement, so you're only inviting future problems.

"I have a large tank in my bed for fueling my equipment in the field - Bobcats, Generators, etc. I have red dye in there - is that OK?

Sure, as long as none of it ever finds it's way into the tank of your pickup truck itself, then it's no problem. Take note, however, that trucks with large transfer tanks on them are prime suspects to be pulled over by law enforcement for dye checks as the law knows that the temptation to pump some of that "cheap" diesel into your own truck is strong!

"I have a second tank with dyed diesel in it that's secretly plumbed into my trucks fuel system..they'll never figure it out!"

Yeah, they will. Law enforcement has seen ALL the tricks. Trying to secretly plumb in a second tank containing red dye so that you can flip a transfer switch and start burning red dye (while still containing clear diesel in your primary tank) is a neat trick, but it won't work - they're wise to these sorts of tactics and if the enforcement officers WILL look for secret plumbing and sneaky hookups.

.....so, with this information in hand, make your own decisions.

If tempting fate is worth it to you to save a few bucks at every fill up for your licensed on-road pickup truck, you have the information you now seek to make your own decisions.

If you have a legitimate and legal use for wanting to burn red-dyed diesel in your pickup truck, you can feel safe doing so.

If you didn't realize you could burn red-dyed diesel in your legitimate off road equipment like tractors, bobcats, generators, and the such...well, you've saved yourself some money!

The staff, ownership, and operators of Dieselplace.com in no way condone the illegal use of (untaxed) red-dye diesel for on-road (taxed) usage. Do so at your own peril and risk.

This FAQ will be updated as information comes to light that may be important to it's content. Please feel free to follow-up with a response if warranted.

Dieselplace.com Staff

chevyman_2000 03-20-2011 11:31 AM

good read. I know up in Northern Ontario it's common practice to do so. I'm not sure if I missed it but also if you get caught using someone else's dyed fuel (farm, business, etc) They also get fined and lose there licence! IMO not worth it. Just make BIO instead.


06bowtie_guy 03-20-2011 12:05 PM

Haven't been pulled in but have seen the 7up setup in town diping tanks.

They had enough customers so i didn't get to go through the check.

Tanc Crusher 03-20-2011 12:21 PM


Originally Posted by chevyman_2000 (Post 4234732)
good read. I know up in Northern Ontario it's common practice to do so. I'm not sure if I missed it but also if you get caught using someone else's dyed fuel (farm, business, etc) They also get fined and lose there licence! IMO not worth it. Just make BIO instead.


As for Bio I think you are allowed only to use so much on the road and the rest you need to pay road tax on.


4320Diesel 03-20-2011 12:30 PM

ive been told by a few farmers around here and a few other people but ive never really looked into it, but, from what ive been told is farmers in sask with Farm registered plates ( big red F sticker on the ower left corner of the plate that comes with making my trucks insurance go from 350 bucks a year to 120 a year :D ) can run dyed diesel with no hassle on road in those trucks. i dont know if this is true, but im going to be honest and say ive been running dyed in both of my diesel pickups ever since i first got a diesel pickup. and in sask, noones ever heard of tank dipping since back in the days of purple and amber gasoline (same concept as dyed diesel, the purple gas was for trucks and off road stuff and was a bunch cheaper than amber gas which was manditory to be used in cars, and the cops had dip checks stationed EVERYWHERE back then).

TOTHEMAX! 03-20-2011 12:39 PM

Good writeup.

Another unanswered statement that I heard the other day is that if you are not pulling a trailer the DOT cant pull you over to dip your tank; But if you get pulled over by a state trooper they can dip with reasonable suspicion.

Anyone know anything about this?

PrivatePilot 03-20-2011 12:44 PM


Originally Posted by TOTHEMAX! (Post 4234805)
Another unanswered statement that I heard the other day is that if you are not pulling a trailer the DOT cant pull you over to dip your tank;

I can't speak for all jurisdictions, but I will say that I've seen plenty of pickup trucks without trailers pulled over getting dipped, both here in Ontario, and elsewhere.

I strongly suspect this is a misconception like many of the others.

TOTHEMAX! 03-20-2011 12:56 PM


Originally Posted by PrivatePilot (Post 4234812)
I can't speak for all jurisdictions, but I will say that I've seen plenty of pickup trucks without trailers pulled over getting dipped, both here in Ontario, and elsewhere.

I strongly suspect this is a misconception like many of the others.

Wouldn't they have to have reasonable suspicion to pull them over for possible dyed diesel in their tank?

Maybe someone who knows the laws can chime in..

4320Diesel 03-20-2011 01:05 PM


Common Questions about Fuel Tax

Do farmers, commercial loggers, trappers and fishers need a valid Fuel Tax Exemption Permit to purchase marked diesel fuel for use in their farming and primary producing activities?

Yes. Marked diesel fuel, other than fuel used solely for heating purposes, may only be purchased and used by persons holding a valid Fuel Tax Exemption Permit. A person may request an application for a permit by phoning the Farm Fuel Program toll free at 1-800-667-7587.

For what purposes may a farmer use marked diesel fuel?

Farmers with a valid Fuel Tax Exemption Permit may purchase marked diesel fuel tax free in bulk, from bulk fuel dealers, for use as follows:
  • in their farm machinery and equipment used in their farming operation; and
  • in a vehicle that is registered as a "Class F" vehicle pursuant to The Vehicle Classification and Registration Regulations.
Farmers must use clear diesel fuel if the "Class F" vehicle is being used for non-farm business or employment purposes.

For what purposes may a commercial logger use marked diesel fuel?

Commercial loggers may use marked diesel fuel in their unlicenced equipment while engaged in logging or reforestation activities upstream from the mill gate. Unmarked or clear diesel fuel must be used by saw mills and pulp and paper operations. Also, clear diesel fuel must be used by truckers when hauling logs and finished products to market or between processes.

Do farmers have to replace the marked diesel fuel that is in their vehicle tank when they perform a commercial activity?

Farmers who use their vehicles for other business purposes will not be required to drain their tanks of the marked diesel fuel, provided they have purchased a temporary permit. Permits may be obtained by calling 1-800-667-7575. The permit must be valid during the time that marked diesel fuel is in the tank. This permit only allows the operator to use the fuel already in the tank. It does not allow the operator to place additional marked diesel fuel in the tank while a temporary upgrade permit is in force.
Farmers may use marked diesel fuel while clearing snow from their local municipal road or a local access road and they are not commercially compensated. However, clear diesel fuel must be used while clearing snow from roads in cities, towns and villages and from all roads identified on Saskatchewan's grid road map.

As the manager or owner of a bulk fuel facility that is using a dye injector, what am I responsible for and what offences could I be subject to under The Fuel Tax Act, 2000?

All persons who mark diesel fuel must be authorized to do so by Saskatchewan Finance. It is an offence for an unauthorized person to mark diesel fuel. If you have not received your authority, please call Saskatchewan Finance at 787-7683.
In addition to being authorized to mark diesel fuel, you are responsible to ensure that all equipment related to the injection of dye is working properly and that all safeguards with respect to controls are followed.
Enforcement officers inspect injector sites on a regular basis and may lay charges for infractions and also issue tax assessments as a result of the following:
  • Failure to maintain the injector unit in a properly sealed manner, thereby allowing access to unauthorized persons;
  • Using systems which are not dyeing in the correct proportion;
  • Failing to report the removal of seals within a two day period;
  • Tampering with equipment used in the dyeing process; and
  • Selling diesel fuel which has been blended in order to evade or reduce the tax.

Can I sell marked diesel fuel as heating fuel?

Bulk dealers may sell market diesel fuel as heating fuel to their customers. When selling heating fuel, bulk dealers must keep records showing the name of the purchaser and must ensure that the fuel is being acquired for an authorized purpose, verifying the purchaser's requirement for heating fuel. Typically, this is done by delivering the heating fuel to the customer. In addition, transaction detail for all heating fuel sales must be reported to Saskatchewan Finance. Where the bulk fuel dealer delivers fuel to a single storage tank that is also used to supply fuel for a taxable activity (e.g. to operate a rig engine), the bulk dealer must only sell clear diesel fuel. The purchaser may apply directly to Saskatchewan Finance for a refund of tax paid on the clear diesel fuel that is used for heating. Please call Saskatchewan Finance at 787-7686 for more information on what is required to obtain a refund.

Can I sell marked diesel fuel through my keylock, cardlock or service station facility?

Keylock, cardlock and service station facilities may only be used to dispense marked diesel fuel to valid Fuel Tax Exemption Permit holders. The following conditions must also be met at the fuel dispensing facility:
  • Vendors must be registered with Saskatchewan Finance and report all tax exempt fuel sales as required by the Automated Up-Front Exemption (AUFES) System.
  • Access to marked diesel fuel in a keylock or cardlock must be restricted to valid Fuel Tax Exemption Permit holders.
  • Pumps that dispense marked diesel fuel must be clearly marked to show that they contain marked diesel fuel for use only by persons who hold a valid Fuel Tax Exemption Permit.
  • Fuel dispensed from a service station facility must be dispensed directly into a tank that is not connected to the fuel system of a motor vehicle.
  • An invoice must be completed for all sales of marked diesel fuel and retained at the location for audit purposes. All invoices must show the customer's name and permit number. Marked diesel fuel sold as a "cash sale" (without the customer's name) is not permitted.
  • Periodic inventory readings and purchase invoices for marked diesel fuel must be made readily available for inspection.

Can diesel fuel from Alberta or Manitoba be used in Saskatchewan?

Diesel fuel that has been dyed for tax purposes by Alberta or Manitoba is allowed in Saskatchewan as a tax free diesel fuel. The same rules apply to this diesel fuel as the diesel fuel that is marked in Saskatchewan.
For information on importing fuel, please phone Saskatchewan Finance at 787-7688.

If I deliver marked diesel fuel to a customer by mistake, can I collect the tax and mark the invoice that tax was paid, thereby allowing the customer to use the fuel for a taxable purpose?

No. Marked diesel fuel is marked to identify it as tax free fuel. Marked diesel fuel can only be used for an exempt purpose. If marked diesel fuel has been delivered in error, you may wish to contact Saskatchewan Finance at 787-7688 to discuss the circumstances.

What should I do if I accidentally blend fuel?

If you have an accidental blending, you must immediately report the accident to Saskatchewan Finance by calling 787-7683. The accidental blending will be investigated and you will be advised of the tax requirements.

Can I use my Fuel Tax Exemption permit to purchase tax free gasoline or propane?

A farmer or commercial fisher, trapper or logger with a valid Fuel Tax Exemption Permit may purchase 80% of their gasoline tax free from a bulk fuel dealer, providing the fuel is used strictly for an eligible farming or primary producing activity in the same manner as marked diesel fuel.
For invoicing bulk fuel purchases, the bulk dealer may show the amount of tax collected as 3 per litre on all gasoline sold to a permit holder for use in his or her eligible farming or commercial fishing, trapping or logging operation.

this only applies to sask residents and its taken from this website http://www.finance.gov.sk.ca/Default...0-bdb77457c18b

but it seems farmers are allowed to burn dyed in their trucks with the farm plates as long as theyre being used for farm stuff, not for commuting to a job they have off the farm or so on.

ryanryan 03-20-2011 01:09 PM


Originally Posted by PrivatePilot (Post 4234812)
I can't speak for all jurisdictions, but I will say that I've seen plenty of pickup trucks without trailers pulled over getting dipped, both here in Ontario, and elsewhere.

I strongly suspect this is a misconception like many of the others.

Good write-up Mark. What's the average price for red-diesel? For a comparison, clear-diesel is $1.22 around here......

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