All About Red Diesel

Apr 1, 2021
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tractor by the sea

What is red diesel?

Red Diesel is diesel fuel that is used for powering ‘off road’ vehicles such as tractors and other vehicles used for agriculture. It is supplied by agricultural fuel distributors Shropshire.

It is essentially the same stuff as diesel made for cars we drive on the roads, which is known as ‘white diesel’, however, red diesel has around 40% less fuel duty – so it is a lot cheaper to buy! Red diesel is named this as there is a colouring agent added to make it distinguishable. 

Red diesel has less tax to allow the businesses which need it to increase their profits. They often need to use these vehicles a lot, so buying the standard taxed fuel would make it very hard to make money. 


Can I use red diesel in my car?

Most likely, no. It is against the law to use red diesel when driving on a public road – except for a handful of cases. Doing this would be ‘tax evasion’ so you would likely be facing a heavy fine. 

Red diesel does work in standard diesel cars due to it having exactly the same chemical make-up. You will only find this being used in off-road vehicles, tractors, or other construction and agricultural vehicles which remain on private land. 


What are the other names for red diesel?

Another commonly used name for red diesel is ‘gas oil’. On top of this, to add to any confusion, red diesel has a whole group of other nicknames too. Some call it tractor diesel or 35-second fuel oil. Due to its colour, it’s often called cherry juice or cherry red.



Is red diesel the same as domestic heating oil?

A lot of countries do actually use red diesel as a domestic fuel. However, in the UK red diesel is not used for home heating oil – there are two different things. The majority of domestic heating oil is Kerosene, which is a distilled version of crude oil. This provides a much cleaner and efficient burn than red diesel would. 



When can red diesel be used on public roads?

It is deemed acceptable to use red diesel when travelling between different parts of land owned by the same person, or for any purposes which relate to agriculture, forestry, or horticulture. 

Farmers are also allowed to use red diesel to grit roads to clear them of ice and snow. 

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