What Is Reefer Fuel?All About Reefer Trailer Fuel

April 27, 2023
What is reefer fuel

If you manage a business that requires the use of refrigerated trucks, you know how vital fuel is to the refrigeration of your trailers. Reefer fuel has a specific designated use, and it would be wise to abide by the regulations to avoid costly fines. Below, we discuss what is reefer fuel and the difference between that and other types of fuel.

What Is Reefer Fuel? 

Reefer fuel is primarily used to keep refrigeration in reefer vehicles. It's a specialized diesel designed to power refrigerated trucks and other off-road equipment, serving a vital role beyond transporting refrigeration. It's also essential in sectors like construction and agriculture, where it operates equipment exempt from highway fuel taxes.

Off-road diesel is marked with a red dye in the United States. The red color indicates it is fuel for off-road vehicles and equipment. It's not subject to the same highway taxes as other kinds of fuel. On-road fuels like diesel and gasoline are taxed because of their use on highways. As such, if reefer fuel is found to be used in vehicles that are used on a public road, a fine of up to $10,000 can be issued.

Is Diesel Fuel the Same As Reefer Fuel?

Diesel and reefer fuel are chemically similar. Thus, diesel can be used in a reefer trailer or van to power them. The main difference between the two is the tax rates and place of usage.

First, diesel is typically taxed like regular fuel, while reefer fuel is not. Since off-road (reefer fuel) is taxed differently from on-road fuel (diesel), using reefer fuel on refrigerated trucks helps reduce the cost of using a reefer trailer.

Furthermore, while diesel can be used in vehicles running on the road, off-road fuel can only be used on private property and refrigeration trucks. It should never be used to power a truck or other highway vehicles. Off-road fuel is dyed red to avoid misuse or confusion between the two. 

Can You Put Reefer Fuel in a Diesel Truck?

Since reefer fuel is just regular diesel dyed red, it can power any diesel engine. However, because reefer fuel can only be used on refrigerated trailers and off-road vehicles, using it for on-the-road driving will incur steep fines. 

Tractor Fuel vs Reefer Fuel – Is There A Difference?

Tractor fuel is a type of diesel known as the standard number two diesel. It is a low-grade fuel between gasoline and standard diesel and is adapted for a specific climate. Tractor fuel is typically standard number 2 diesel.

Here's a table highlighting the differences between reefer fuel and tractor fuel:

FeatureReefer FuelTractor Fuel
UsagePrimarily for refrigerated trucks and off-road equipmentCan be used for on-road vehicles like semis, construction vehicles, and trucks, in addition to off-road applications
Tax RateLower due to exemption from highway fuel taxesHigher, as it includes taxes for on-road use
ColorRed, indicating its tax-exempt status for off-road use onlyNo specific color mentioned; assumes standard diesel color
Legality of InterchangeIllegal to use in on-road vehicles as a means to evade taxesLegal for both on-road and off-road use
CostLess expensive due to tax exemptionsMore expensive because of taxation for on-road use
RecommendationNot advised for on-road vehiclesSafe to use in any diesel engine, including those in on-road vehicles

Note: Interchanging reefer and tractor fuel to try and evade paying taxes is illegal in the U.S. While there is very little difference between reefer and tractor fuel, it's crucial to adhere to legal and manufacturer recommendations to avoid penalties or damage to your vehicle.

How Much Fuel Does a Reefer Trailer Use?

Most reefer tanks have a 50-gallon capacity. Since reefers burn around 0.75 gallons of fuel per hour, most reefer tanks must be filled in two to four days. The truck’s distance doesn’t affect reefer tanks’ fuel consumption since they are closed systems. What affects the fuel consumption of these refrigerated units is how often they’re opened and their quality. Poorly maintained or older units will generally need more fuel. 

What Happens if a Reefer Runs Out of Fuel?

Although reefer units can generally last two to four days, opening the units often and poor quality of the units can lead to faster consumption of reefer fuel than expected. If a reefer runs out of fuel, the refrigeration generators will shut down, and any goods inside may spoil due to the temperature change.

Running out of reefer fuel is not ideal, as the temperature-sensitive goods inside will spoil. It can also be a challenge to restart a reefer unit. It’s good practice always to have at least a quarter tank of reefer fuel. Fuel Logic’s reefer fueling solution can help with that. Our onsite refrigerated trailer fueling will keep your goods refrigerated and spoil-free. 

Where Can You Get Reefer Diesel Fuel Delivered Directly To Your Fuel Tank?

Fuel Logic provides off road diesel delivery, so you’re never stranded without reefer fuel. Our nationwide mobile fuel delivery and fleet fueling services ensure that you have reefer trailer fuel wherever and whenever you want. We provide gasoline and diesel to businesses nationwide!

Our fuel experts will keep your refrigerated trailers running at all times. In case of an emergency, our nationwide emergency fuel delivery will ensure you have enough fuel in time so your entire fleet is ready to go in the morning. Contact us today for an easy reefer fueling solution.

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