CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Differences in brands of diesel fuels

Is there any difference between brands of diesel? Am I better off buying a nationsl brand like Shell or Cheveron or is Wallmart or Kroger as good. I can’t seem to find anything on the web.

I believe Shell, at least in some areas, has a deluxe diesel. They seem to infer it will do everything other than change the baby’s diaper. For the most part diesel fuels are all coming from the same source and have the same additives so there is little difference between brands.

However there are differences between individual stations. The government (Both North American countries) regulate the fuel so substandard is rare and few cars have a need for anything more.

If they don’t sell much, it may sit in the tank a long time. If they are not careful, it may become contaminated by water or other junk.

If you want higher cetane you can add your own additives for that, but for the most part, you will end up paying more for the additive (or high end fuel) than you will save due to higher mileage.

“Diesel” is #2 fuel oil, same product many people use to heat their homes with. This product has many different names, all related to how it is taxed and what color dye is added to it to verify the correct tax was paid…Brand names like “Shell” or “Chevron” are meaningless.

Today, the ULS (low sulfur) requirement separates “diesel fuel” from other products which are considerably cheaper because of their higher sulfur content…

I assumed that was the story but did’nt know for sure. I sure can’t tell in my HD 2500 between brands. Thanks for the quick response.

I can’t feel any difference between the high dollar diesels and the cheaper stuff. I’ve just been concerned about any addiives, or lack of, that could cause damage. Thanks for the info.

My VW diesel has more than 225,000 miles and has never had the injectors removed for cleaning or any other service. I use almost exclusively either BP, formerly Amoco or else “Gold” diesel which claims 5% better mileage. There may be a little truth in that 5% claim. In the distant past I formed the opinion that my fuel mileage was not as good with Citgo diesel but have not tried them recently. I have never detected any difference in how well the engine runs with various brands of diesel fuel.

I think the more important distinction is LSD (low Sulfur diesel) and ULSD (ultra low Sulfur Diesel), rather than brand. One brand might be selling one and another brand might be selling the other. The pumps should be labeled with the one they are selling. If your diesel engine was built recently, I would use the ULSD. Otherwise, you might save some money by using LSD. Check your owner’s manual to see if ULSD is required, and if it is, pay the extra amount for it.