What Is Reefer Fuel & Can I Put Off-Road Fuel In My Truck?

Reefer fuel is one of the types of fuel that has been used in large vehicles. It’s also known that with other names: red-dyed diesel, untaxed fuel, or off-road diesel fuel. Did you know everything about it? You will wonder What is Reefer fuel and how is it different from other fuels for cars? Let us get you covered in the article!

What Is Reefer Fuel?

The reason that reefer fuel exists is actually really simple: all fuels are taxed as part of a “fuel tax” that occurs at the point of sale. 

We are going deep to explain the reefer fuel. This fuel is used to keep the trailer cool so that temperature-controlled food is transported fresh and safe to its destination. Reefer means refrigerators, this part is the cooling devices on some Semi-trailers. The first thing that you may notice about this fuel is its color. Natural gasoline comes in clear or white in color. Diesel has clear or yellow. Reefer fuel can be easy to identify due to its distinctive color.

This will be reddish because companies combine this fuel with a red dye. Reefer fuel is outstanding with a red dye to distinguish it from diesel on the road to avoid its use for incorrect purposes. Also, getting rid of red dye in this fuel is not easy you need to add more fuel to dilute it If you want to do this.

You can easily detect the dye in these fuels by using a black light, keep this in mind, if you find a vehicle on the road using this fuel, you will be fined. This number can range from $10,000 to even more depending on your country. Because off-road fuels are not taxed like road fuels, reefer fuels are less expensive to operate. All fuels are dyed for off-road use to avoid the expensive taxes associated with using clear diesel from a gas station pump

What is reefer fuel used for? Reefer fuel is used mainly on refrigerated trucks. It can also be used in some industries: construction, agriculture, and any other off-road vehicle that is not working on highways and where the government requires fuel taxes.

What’s The Difference Between Tractor Fuel And Reefer Fuel?

is reefer fuel the same as diesel
Reefer fuel is functionally and chemically identical to standard diesel that you find at any gas station in the US (Photo: iowarfa.org)

For large vehicles like trailers, trucks… Besides regular vehicle maintenance, fuel plays an important role in these vehicles. When talking about the fuel for large cars, you often hear 2 types of fuel mentioned: tractor fuel vs reefer fuel and it makes you confused and you don’t know which should you choose for your vehicle. To make it clear, we will share with you some main factors about the difference between these fuels. Generally, cold trailer fuel is chemically no different from road fuel. But its intended use is different.

Before determining the difference between these two fuels, let’s learn to know what’s the tractor fuel? Tractor fuel is a low-grade fuel produced between gasoline and diesel during the traditional distillation of crude oil. Refining techniques developed during the Second World War made it possible to convert this into a more useful fuel, and it began to disappear.

Power Fuel is a premium tractor fuel. The main advantage of using this fuel is that it has the best lubricating feature. Now, we are sure that you had the basic knowledge about tractor fuel. Let’s find the main difference between the two types of fuels.


When using the reefer fuel, drivers don’t have to pay the taxes but it’s only effective when you use off-road vehicles. You are completely safe with reefer fuel as long as your vehicle is not taken out on the road. The main draw is that reefer fuel is NOT composed in the IFTA filing when it is used to power a trailer’s refrigeration unit.

Like some fuel, you need to pay the taxes. In some countries, high taxes on gasoline (for automobile use) have made tractor fuel become a cost-effective method.


Called tractor fuel or distillate, this inexpensive fuel was commonly used in agricultural tractors until World War II. Many manufacturers have built low-compression “all-fuel” engines to burn tractor fuel and gasoline. The engine was started with gasoline from a small tank and changed to tractor fuel when it was hot. The tractor fuel engine can run on modern gasoline. 

Reefer diesel is commonly used in large vehicles and for refrigeration trucks.


The cost of using reefer fuel is often lower than other fuels, especially: tractor fuel. Because it’s a rebated fuel and primarily used for heating certain types of vehicles and machinery in the construction. If you are looking for a cost-effective alternative to other fuel gas oil, reefer fuel is a good option regardless of not using it on the road.

>> Read more: Hybrid vs. Gas Fuels Cars – Which is Best for You?

Can I Put Off-Road Fuel In My Truck?

To break this problem, can you tell us “ Is reefer fuel the same as diesel?” Diesel engines are red and are considered special. Reefer fuel is functionally and chemically identical to standard diesel that you find at any gas station in the US. However, in some cases, there’s has a distinct difference: Red diesel has a higher sulfur content than green diesel. But the cost of using it is cheaper than using conventional diesel. 

You will see some comments saying that: red fuel will hurt your truck or you will be caught by the police if you fill your truck with this fuel. What’s the truth? and whether you can put this red fuel in your car. Let’s get into:

reefer diesel
Can you put the reefer diesel in your truck? Of course, you can but be careful. (Photo:istockphoto.com)

Putting the red fuel will ruin your truck?

Modern fuel systems aren’t designed for high sulfur diesel fuel. But that is not something that you really need to worry about because nearly all, about 99% of red-dyed diesel in the US is chemically identical to other standard ultra-low sulfur diesel you find at the pump.

The manufacturers switched the standard to ultra-sulfur fuel in 2006, so trucks and equipment produced after 2006 are all designed to run with this fuel. In this case, we can affirm that off-road fuel won’t harm your truck. But if your engine was produced prior to 2006, you should refer to the manual from manufacturers to use this fuel.

Off-road diesel fuel is specified for off-highway use. This means you can pump it into a tractor, or construction equipment. But if you’re driving your truck on a public road, it’s completely illegal to run it on an off-road diesel. Depending on local laws, you can operate tractors or other agricultural vehicles on some routes. But if you can legally operate a tractor on the road, you don’t need a diesel on the road to do so.

Is it legal to use the off-road fuel on the truck?

As we mentioned above, off-road fuel or red fuel is actually just diesel that comes with Solvent Red 26 or 164 dyes to represent high sulfur content. However, you should consider red as a warning sign to stay away from it. Even if you’re not concerned about the dangers it poses to the environment, your checkbook will thank you if you get it right.

The price of this fuel is lower because when you buy it, you don’t have to pay federal or state highway taxes. But this means that when you use it to drive the vehicle on the road, you are evading taxes. It is a serious crime. 

If you want to apply for an off-road fuel license, you need a good reason. Agricultural, construction, and terrain business relationships are the best reasons to have a permit. But it’s not meaning that you can access it. Always follow the necessary legal procedures before using it.

>> Related post: 5 Pro Tips for Improving Diesel Fuel Economy Promptly

Sum It Up

As we analyzed above, you can see reefer fuel or red diesel is a fuel cheaper than normal road diesel. A red dye is added to the fuel to help the police identify between the normal diesel and the rebated fuel. With this in mind, reefer fuels should be never used in any vehicles on public roads.

However, this fuel plays an important role in the agriculture sector or the machinery. And please note that: Don’t make the mistake of using red diesel on your normal vehicles, a heavy fine could be coming your way If you are caught by the police.

If you are unsure about what types of vehicles you can use the reefer fuel, you can contact the local fuel suppliers, and they will advise you on how you can use this fuel legally? and save you a lot of money.