Can home-heating fuel be used in a diesel car?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Sep 01, 1998

Dear Tom and Ray:

My father-in-law keeps pushing me to purchase any turbo diesel-powered car. I
drive 132 miles a day to work, and he keeps telling me about how much I could

The problem is, he's not advocating that I use diesel fuel! He fills his diesel
truck up with home-heating oil, which ends up costing him around 60 cents a
gallon. He claims there's very little difference between the two fuels.

My question is: Has he gone over the edge? Can home-heating fuel hurt a diesel
car? -- Kevin

TOM: Well, Kevin, your father-in-law hasn't gone "over the edge" in terms of
sanity. But he has gone over the edge of legality! What he's doing is blatantly
illegal. In fact, the FBI dogs are sniffing your envelope as we speak!

RAY: Home-heating oil and diesel fuel ARE essentially the same thing. There are
some additives in diesel fuel that don't show up in heating oil, but it's
basically the same primordial crud.

TOM: The difference in cost is mostly a result of the taxes. There are a variety
of gasoline taxes imposed by federal and state governments that support things
like road repair. And by using home-heating oil (which is exempt from these
taxes) in his truck, he's breaking the law and effectively, stealing from the
rest of us who DO pay our taxes.

RAY: So if I were you, I wouldn't join in this scheme that your father-in-law is
perpetrating, Kevin.
After all, if you get caught, the fines for tax evasion will more than wipe out
anything you save on the road. And besides, what could be worse than spending 15
years in a small cell with an in-law?

* * *

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