Red Diesel: Here’s Everything Drivers Need To Know

Recently, police forces and mainstream media have taken an interest in red diesel. But what is it and what do motorists need to know? Here’s the run down…

What Is Red Diesel?

Long story short, it’s diesel that’s been dyed red. It’s not ‘special’ nor does it go through a different refining process to standard diesel. It’s used in off-road vehicles, like tractors and farming machinery, and is heavily rebated. In effect, it’s a subsidy for likes of the farming industry. Dying it red allows for easier tax differentiation and, in theory, clamps down on fraud. Fraud has always been a risk with red diesel, owing to the fact that VAT on it is usually only a third of what regular diesel faces. Back in 2014 a “sophisticated” criminal gang managed to sell 1.5 million litres of the rebated fuel to at least 35 HGV companies!

Is It Illegal To Use It In Cars?

Yes, it’s about illegal as it gets. Those found guilty of using the fuel improperly face eye-watering fines and even jail time. It’s not hard to see why, either. The government loses around £100 million annually in fuel revenue; which it claims should be invested in public services. Following larger scale fraud operations, the police have even been known to carry out random spot checks for the fuel; sometimes doing it whilst checking drivers for alcohol or drugs. Ultimately, if you’re using a vehicle on public roads it’s illegal to use red diesel. The BBC has recently confronted drivers using the fuel in Birmingham and Sheffield. Needless to say, they weren’t best pleased to have been caught in the act.

Saving Money On Fuel (Legally)

The average Brit spends around £60,000 on fuel over the course of a lifetime. That’s a phenomenal amount of money. It’s not hard to see why so many people feel, frankly, stung by the costs and taxation involved. But the use of red diesel is illegal and invites all sorts of trouble; it deprives public services of funds, encourages criminal gangs and damages the environment where they often dump toxic substances. The are far better, and legal, ways to make a saving…

1) When buying a car, try to go for something with a good miles per gallon (mpg) rating. Fuel economy is important and, in some cases, a slightly more expensive car might lead to greater savings in the long-term.

2) Keep your car light. The heavier your vehicle is, the harder its engine will have to work. Remove roof and bike racks when they’re not in use and keep the boot clear of anything barring essentials.

3) Watch how you drive. Harsh acceleration, late braking and excessive speeds will burn up fuel. Conversely, ‘hypermiling’ is the art of driving in such a way that fuel is used as economically as possible. It involves steady speeds, braking safely and gentle manoeuvres.

4) Shop around. Don’t just go to the nearest petrol station. Make sure to research the prices of local stations and work out which is offering the better deal. Even a few pence can go a long way in time.

5) Only drive when necessary. It goes without saying that the best way to save money on fuel is simply not to drive. This isn’t always possible, but consider whether you really need to take the car when visiting the local pub or corner shop; take a walk instead. Sometimes, public transport might be cheaper.

Should You Buy A Diesel Car? –

The Rise And Fall Of Diesel –

The Autoserve Club can save you time, money and stress. Club Members can receive huge fuel discounts, discounts on servicing and new tyres and access to our professional 24/7 helpline. To learn more, contact our friendly Service Advisers on 0121 521 3500 today.

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