Answers to frequently asked questions about ULSD fuel.
Q. Where can I purchase ULSD fuel?
A. Although ULSD fuel is the dominant highway diesel fuel produced, EPA does not require service stations and truck stops to sell ULSD fuel. Therefore, ULSD fuel might not be available at every service station or truck stop. Diesel
retailers may choose to sell Low Sulfur Diesel fuel instead of ULSD fuel. The industries involved in the transition are
doing all they can to minimize potential inconveniences during the conversion to the new diesel fuel.
Q. Is there a list of service stations where ULSD is available ?
A. There is no one, centralized list. Motorists are advised to check with the owners/operators of the service stations in their areas to determine whether they are selling ULSD fuel. Data from EPA's ULSD pump survey from the Fourth Quarter of 2006 through the Third Quarter of 2011 indicate that nearly 100 percent of highway diesel fuel pumps are now dispensing Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD).
Q. May I continue to purchase Low Sulfur Diesel fuel if I prefer to use it in my older vehicle?
A. Owners of 2007 and later model year diesel-powered
highway vehicles must refuel only with ULSD fuel.* Owners of 2006
and earlier model year diesel-powered engines and vehicles may use
ULSD or Low Sulfur Diesel fuel during the transition period. Only
ULSD fuel will be available for highway use starting on December
Q. How do I know which pump is dispensing ULSD fuel?
A. Federal regulations require the labeling of diesel fuel pumps to specify the type of fuel dispensed by each pump (except in California where all diesel fuel must be ULSD). Similar vehicle instrument panel and fuel inlet/fill cap labeling is mandated for 2007 and later model year engines and vehicles that require ULSD fuel. Consumers are advised to check the pump labels and vehicle labels to ensure they are refueling with the proper diesel fuel consistent with their vehicle warranties. Click here for downloadable pump labels in TIF, JPG and EPS formats. Data from EPA's ULSD pump survey from the Fourth Quarter of 2006 through the Third Quarter of 2011 indicate that nearly 100 percent of highway diesel fuel pumps are now dispensing Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD).
Q.Do ULSD and LSD fuels differ in appearance?
A. The refining process that removes the sulfur can cause ULSD fuel to generally look lighter in color and possibly have a colored tint. ULSD fuel may have less odor than other diesel fuels due to the reduced sulfur content. Changes in color and smell do not impact the performance of ULSD fuel. ULSD and LSD fuels for non-taxable use may be dyed red, similar to today’s non-road diesel fuel. These possible changes in appearance also might be noticed in LSD fuel, as downgraded ULSD fuel can be sold as LSD fuel.
Q. Are all model year 2007 vehicles
required to use ULSD?
A. All model year 2007 light-duty passenger diesel-powered
vehicles are required to use ULSD fuel, but some medium-duty and
heavy-duty diesel-powered model year 2007 vehicles are built with
2006 model year engines that are not equipped with sulfur-sensitive
advanced emission control systems. These vehicles do not require
ULSD fuel and EPA does not require that these vehicles be fueled
with ULSD fuel. Letters from
EPA to the American Trucking Associations and Engine Manufacturers
Association address this issue in more detail.
Vehicles that require ULSD fuel have specific labels on the dashboard
and near the fuel inlet indicating that they must be fueled with
ULSD fuel. Vehicles without these labels may be refueled with Low
Sulfur Diesel (LSD) or ULSD fuel. Also check the owner’s manual
for which fuel your vehicle is required to use.
Q. How does ULSD fuel affect air quality?
A. ULSD fuel enables the use of cleaner technology diesel engines and vehicles with advanced emissions control devices, resulting in significantly improved air quality. Annual emission reductions will be equivalent to removing the pollution from more than 90 percent of today’s trucks and buses, when the current heavy-duty vehicle fleet has been completely replaced in 2030.
Q. May I continue to blend No. 1 diesel (kerosene) with my diesel fuel to improve cold weather performance?
A. For regulated parties in the fuel distribution chain (including retailers and fleet operators), only Ultra Low Sulfur Kerosene (No. 1 diesel with no more than 15 ppm sulfur) may be blended with ULSD without downgrading the fuel.
EPA Winterization Standards Letter 11-30-07
Individual vehicle owners may add Low Sulfur (up to 500 ppm sulfur) No. 1 diesel to their vehicle’s fuel tank(s), as long as the vehicle does not require ULSD. Regardless of sulfur levels, the blend ratios will remain the same. Like ULSD, Ultra Low Sulfur Kerosene may not be available in all areas. Consumers are advised to check the pump labels and vehicle labels to ensure they are refueling with the proper diesel fuel consistent with their vehicle warranties and using kerosene with the correct sulfur level when blending. Click here for downloadable kerosene pump labels in TIF, JGP and EPS formats.
Q. Are refiners required to produce No. 1 diesel (kerosene) at ultra low sulfur levels?
A. The 80% production/import requirement applies to all highway diesel fuel (No. 1 plus No. 2). EPA requirements do not stipulate the percentages of No. 1 and No. 2 that must be produced or imported. Refiners are producing Ultra Low Sulfur Kerosene (ULSK) for wintertime blending. Consumers are advised to communicate with their fuel suppliers about acquiring ULSK before winter begins. According to the EIA, since the ULSD production requirement took effect in June 2006, both overall kerosene production and stocks are down compared to prior years. EIA does not report kerosene production or inventory segregated by sulfur level so it is not possible to determine the extent to which ULSK is available. Last winter, diesel additives were more heavily relied upon to improve the cold weather performance of ULSD in certain areas. To winterize ULSD, it is necessary to add ULSK, cold flow improvers, or a combination of both. Market participants at every level will need to continue to ensure that the cold flow improvers that are used are appropriate for the base fuel’s characteristics, as the diesel fuel market has routinely done in the past.
EPA Winterization Standards Letter 11-30-07
Q. Is ULSD fuel more expensive than the current Low Sulfur Diesel fuel?
A. ULSD fuel costs more to refine and distribute than Low Sulfur Diesel fuel. No one can predict with certainty the price of ULSD fuel at the pump. Many factors affect the consumer price of fuels, including the price of crude oil on the global market, geopolitical, weather, transportation and economic events, as well as supply and demand. Visit the Energy Information Administration web site for more information on fuel prices.
Q. How does ULSD fuel affect the power and fuel economy of existing diesel cars, trucks and non-road engines and equipment?
A. Under typical operating conditions, there should
be no noticeable impact on overall power using ULSD fuel. Fuel
economy may be reduced slightly because the process that removes
sulfur also can reduce the energy content of
Q. Will ULSD fuel affect the performance of my vehicle?
A. Engine and vehicle manufacturers expect ULSD fuel to be fully compatible with the existing fleet, including 2006 and earlier model year vehicles. In some instances, the introduction of ULSD fuel to older vehicles may affect fuel system components or loosen deposits in fuel tanks. As part of a good maintenance program, owners and operators of existing cars, trucks and buses are encouraged to monitor their diesel-powered vehicles closely for potential fuel system leaks or premature fuel filter plugging during the change-over to ULSD fuel.
Q. Can Low Sulfur Diesel fuel be burned without operational problems in 2007 model year and later cars and trucks?
A. Diesel-powered engines for 2007 and later
model year highway vehicles are designed to operate only with ULSD
fuel. Improper fuel use will reduce the efficiency and durability
of engines, permanently damage advanced emissions control systems,
reduce fuel economy and possibly prevent the vehicles from running
at all.* Manufacturer warranties are likely to be voided by improper
fuel use. Additionally, burning Low Sulfur Diesel fuel in 2007 and
later model year diesel-powered cars, trucks and buses is illegal
and punishable with civil penalties.*
Q. Do I need to put an additive in my fuel tank to replace the lubricity that was provided by the higher sulfur content?
A. Like Low Sulfur Diesel fuel, ULSD fuel requires good lubricity and corrosion inhibitors to prevent unacceptable engine wear. As necessary, additives to increase lubricity and to inhibit corrosion are added to ULSD fuel prior to its retail sale. With these additives, ULSD fuel is expected to perform as well as Low Sulfur Diesel fuel.
Q. What are the penalties for failing to comply with EPA's ULSD fuel standards?
A. The EPA standards provide strong incentives for suppliers to provide the proper ULSD fuel formulation. Civil penalties of up to $32,500 per violation per day can be assessed for non-compliance with EPA’s ULSD fuel standards, or for misrepresentation of the sulfur level of diesel fuel. For more information about ULSD fuel standards and implementation, visit:
To submit other questions or requests, please register and fill out the form on the Media Room page, or call 866-406-FUEL (866-406-3835).
*Exception – Some 2007 model year medium-duty and heavy-duty
trucks may be equipped with 2006 engines and emission systems. These
vehicles are not required
to use ULSD fuel.
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