What is E10 petrol and how will it affect you?

E10 petrol is now the default unleaded fuel in the UK. Check out our quick guide to E10 to find out more and what its introduction means for your car

Written by Verity Hogan
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What is E10 petrol?

If you’ve recently seen E10 petrol appear at the pump, you’re probably wondering what makes it different to other fuels on the market. Introduced in the UK on 1st September 2021, E10 is already being used across much of Europe, the USA, and Australia. It’s the new default unleaded petrol, replacing E5, and is made up of 90% traditional petrol and 10% ethanol (E5 contains just 5%). This mix is intended to help reduce CO2 emissions and environmental experts predict it’ll lead to a 2% reduction in CO2 per car – that’s the equivalent of taking 350,000 cars off the road!

What is ethanol?

Ethanol is a form of alcohol created through the fermentation of distillation of crops such as grains, sugar beet, or straw. It’s not an alcohol that anyone would want to drink but ethanol – also known as bioethanol – can partially offset the greenhouse gas emissions it produces as the crops used absorb some of the CO2 in the atmosphere as they grow.

Is my car compatible with E10?

Most cars currently being driven in the UK will have no problem switching to E10 fuel. All petrol cars manufactured after 2011 should be compatible, but you should be cautious if you have an older vehicle. E10 can damage classic cars and those produced before 2011 and the Department of Transport estimates that up to 700,000 vehicles could be affected. You should also be careful if you ride a motorbike as it’s best to stick to a fuel with as little ethanol as possible. If you’re worried about your car’s compatibility, you can check the Department of Transport’s website or contact your vehicle’s manufacturer directly.

Is E5 petrol still available?

Don’t worry, E5 isn’t going to disappear overnight! In most petrol stations, E5 will continue to be sold but it’ll likely be labelled as ‘Super’, ‘Premium’, or ‘Performance’ fuel. As it’ll now be considered a premium product, you can expect to pay more per litre for E5 petrol than the standard E10.

What happens if I fill up my car with E10 by mistake?

There’s no need to panic if you accidentally fill up with E10. If your car isn’t compatible then using the wrong fuel could cause damage over time; extra solvents in the petrol can harm internal components in the vehicle including the fuel pumps, lines, and carburettors. But it won’t happen overnight; avoid repeating the mistake and top up your tank with E5 fuel as soon as you can to help mitigate the effect of using the wrong fuel.

Is E10 petrol bad?

The merits of E10 petrol are hotly debated and opinions are split; it’s better for the environment but some also believe it’s less efficient than E5. This can mean that E10 compatible cars get fewer miles for the gallon than they would using E5 petrol. Drivers not wanting to make the switch will have to pay a premium to fill up with E5 and those with older cars that they can’t afford to upgrade, such as lower income families, will also be stuck with higher costs as they’re prevented from using E10.

Verity Hogan

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