From September, filling stations will switch to E10 petrol – a greener alternative in line with the government’s plan to cut emissions. However, motorists are being warned that E10 is incompatible with some vehicles, including classic cars.
It is expected that the introduction of E10 petrol on UK roads will serve to reduce transport CO2 emissions by up to 750,000 tonnes per year. Still, there is growing concern over the number of motorists who will be excluded from this new scheme due to the incompatibility of their vehicles.
E10 has the potential to corrode brass, copper, lead, zinc, rubber, plastic and fibreglass, all of which are commonly found in older vehicles. And it’s not just classic cars at risk either.
Studies show that even vehicles built in the early 2000s may be negatively affected by E10. These drivers have been warned against using E10 to fill up their vehicles until it has been confirmed that it is safe to do so.
Instead, motorists with older vehicles or classic or cherished cars will need to use the more expensive super unleaded petrol, as this will be the only maintained source of E5. Its price currently stands at 136.2p-a-litre, 14p more than standard petrol.
It is thought that this will have the most significant impact on lower-income drivers who may not be able to afford to replace their older model vehicle. Instead, they will have to fork out up to £7.50 more to fill up their tank with E5.
However, AA president Edmund King has suggested the switch to E10 will be more costly for all motorists, not just those with older vehicles:
‘Introducing E10 will add to fuel costs paid by motorists. Moving from E5 to E10 is estimated to reduce pump price petrol costs by 0.2 pence per litre. However, as the energy content of the fuel will also decrease, motorists will have to buy more litres of fuel. Overall fuel costs for petrol cars are therefore estimated to increase by 1.6% as a result of moving from E5 to E10.’
Simon Williams, spokesman for the RAC, also commented:
‘The switch to E10 petrol is clearly good news for the environment and will not affect the vast majority of the UK’s 33 million car drivers although some may see the number of miles they get from a tank go down as research suggests E10 is potentially slightly less efficient.’
Despite the environmental positives E10 will provide, Edmund King suggests that the increased prices and incompatibility with some vehicles has the potential to ‘rub many drivers up the wrong way.’
[Image Source: Shutterstock, April 2021]
Will your vehicle be compatible with E10?
According to research thus far, the following vehicles may be incompatible with E10:
- Classic and cherished vehicles
- Older vehicles, particularly those built before 2000
- Mopeds with an engine size of 50cc or under
Because of this, the Department for Transport is suggesting motorists use their new E10 Vehicle Compatibility Checker before September to avoid potential damage to their cars.
An investigation conducted by Hagerty UK – representatives of the classic car community -warns that ‘the introduction of E10 is the most significant threat to old cars since the switch from leaded to unleaded fuel.’
Unfortunately, however, the petrol retailers Association suggest that it will be up to older car owners to make modifications to their vehicle if they wish to use E10 petrol, rather than the more expensive super unleaded alternative:
‘You’ve either got to use fuel with no ethanol or change the materials that don’t like it. If you are in any doubt about your rubber fuel lines, change them. Get rid of your fibreglass petrol tank and install an aluminium one. The other thing ethanol really doesn’t like is solder. If you are running a soldered float in your carburettor, then think about carrying a spare – they’re generally quite easy to change,’ says Guy Lachlan, Managing Director of Classic Oils.
With potential modifications or increased fuel prices in mind, Hagerty UK has said that they ‘call on the Government and Petrol Retailers Association to accelerate information campaigns for drivers and riders. There may be extensive mechanical modifications required by some models, which can be a costly exercise – during an already challenging economic environment.’
Do the environmental benefits of E10 outweigh the potential risks to classic cars? Are you concerned that your vehicle will be incompatible with E10 petrol?
Let us know in the comments.
It’s diesel fuel they need to clean up more than petrol which is already cleaner. Most lorries and vans, which are on the roads far more than cars, use diesel so this would be a better use of technology.
But which is more polluting? my partners 3 yo 1.0 turbo petrol car which manages just over 40mpg, or my 8yo 1.6 turbo diesel which does 55 mpg. I think you will find it’s the former since it’s using 20% more fuel.
Absolutely a load of crap. Alcohol was added to fuel from the 1920’s at far greater concentrations than the 10% that is going to be added now.Companies such as Cleveland Discol was one of fuels marketed and one other produced fuels with up to 30% alcohol., even bog standard Foord Pops ran better because of the slightly higher calorific value and cooling effect in the combustion chamber increasing volumetric efficiency- more fuel in, more power out. Why should those same cars now be unsuitable for these fuels? My own cars run so much better with alcohols added such as methonal, no pinking, more advanced ignition timing, no running on, cooler running engine. I used to race using 100% methonel though I do admit at the end of the meeting I did flush the engine with petrol for 5 minutes. My Father always filled the tank of the family car with alcohol added fuel when ever a long run was planned with no problems. Scaremongering for what end, to scrap these cars devoid of all these ridiculous and unnecessary ‘driver aids’ fitted to all the rubbish, boring over weight over powered cars produced now, when the speed limit is 70mph
Please get your theory and facts correct, ethanol is not alcohol or anything like it. The more ethanol you add the more of the fuel it is mixed in with is required ti be burnt to generate the same power before it was added. Alcohol is the complete opposite as it increases power output. Methanolmeven more so, which id why top dragster use methanol.
There’s a whole family of alcohols and ethanol is most definitely a member. The calorific value of ethanol (whether by volume or by weight) is less than that of petrol. That’s because the oxygen atom contained in an ethanol molecule cannot be burnt. So, every ethanol molecule carries an oxygen passenger. There are other molecular differences between ethanol and petrol which also make petrol more energetic than ethanol.
Ethanol (also called ethyl alcohol, grain alcohol, drinking alcohol, or simply alcohol) is an organic chemical compound. It is a simple alcohol with the chemical formula C2H6O. Its formula can be also written as CH 3−CH 2−OH or C 2H 5OH (an ethyl group linked to a hydroxyl group), and is often abbreviated as EtOH. Ethanol is a volatile, flammable, colorless liquid with a slight characteristi…
“Please get your theory and facts correct” HAHA! Hilarious! Physician, heal thyself.
I agree with Wendy Page, I have said for years the Government just target the easy prey for their Green Policy. Look how many lorries are on the road and for how long each journey is and how long timewise. It is the same with forcing people to buy electric cars. What are they going to do with the mountain of old useless batteries in 10 years time and their is still no push for electric lorries. There is no logical sense to the Governments war on car owners. There are far bigger polluters out there (such as shipping which pours vast quantity of emission’s straight into the atmosphere, no catalytic converter fitted to them!!) and yet nothing is said or done about them. All the world’s Governments need to wake up that they will not be able to cure climate change by just punishing car owners.
Why do uneducated people always complain about lorries on the road, just think for a minute, if there were no lorries you would be sitting in your comfortable arm chairs sipping on your Chardonnay and watching TV. So don’t keep knocking the trucks.
Not all lorries pollute the environment. I just wish there were more that didn’t. Oh, and despite the same being said of diesel locomotives, only one is needed. Think how many worn out lorries could be scrapped by switching to rail.
It is not a case of complaining about lorries, it is the fact that they polute to a far greater level for the amount of mpg they acheive by comparison to petrol or indeed even diesel cars, yet we hear nothing about any changes being made to address that.
Trucks are far more fuel efficiant than they ever were pulling far more weight than they ever did with far more power than they ever had ,Trucks have come a long way
@GMann Are you aware that since 2016 all new HGV’s have had to comply with very strict Euro 6 emmission regulations? Not more than 0.5g/km of carbon monoxide and 0.17g/km of hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide combined (including a maximum of 0.08g/km of NOx).Limit of 0.005g/km of particulate matter.
This year even more stringent Euro 7 regs are coming in.
Thats because diesel makes the world go round, if you’ve got it diesel brought it, there is no alterative yet.
Actually, the hydrogen fuel cell is being observed by the haulage industry. The issue is that the production costs are approximately 4 times that of diesel (by distance).
Climate alarm-ism is driving changes that in many cases delivers a functionally inferior outcome. It would seem more sensible to challenge the premise that is driving these necessary changes.
The premise has already been challenged plenty of times. The reality is that climate change, global warming, & pollution etc are the accepted reality after extensive research & weighing up all the facts by the vast majority of scientists & researchers in the field. Just because you don’t want it to be true, doesn’t make it so! It’s time to wake up & take action to reduce the damage to our environment before future generations have little opportunity for transport of any kind.
No amount of arguing for common sense will halt the onward march of environmentalism, which always seems to relentlessly target the ordinary person and their pleasures. That’s because the real agenda isn’t the environment: it’s wealth and power. What better way to give industry a boost than to force consumers to throw away their posessions and replace them with new ones?
How do you account for the fact that during lockdown ,the roads were empty .making the working life of commercial vehicle drivers actually pleasant & very efficient for the workers who actually produce something be it service or delivery of what is needed. Hardly any cars on the road was the reason.
Correct John, it was actually a pleasure to drive again and there was a very good chance of arriving on time.
‘You’ve either got to use fuel with no ethanol or change the materials that don’t like it. If you are in any doubt about your rubber fuel lines, change them. Get rid of your fibreglass petrol tank and install an aluminium one.’ says Guy Lachlan, Managing Director of Classic Oils………Like I can go to Halfords and buy an aluminium tank that’s designed for my car, which is 20 years old. What an idiot!
What about the brass washers on my fuel filter ?
I’m sure an additive will come along for all those cars that could be potentially damaged by the E10 fuel. I think we should all just take a ‘chill-pill’ and concentrate on more pressing issues like the cost of beer being too high.
Additives don’t stop it being corrosive.
I have stripped loads of carburettors on 30-40 year olds motorbikes. The ones with the biggest problems are always the ones which have been run on E5 which has 5% bio ethanol. There is no doubt the ethanol kills petrol fuel systems whether it is yellow metals, aluminium, rubber or plastic. It is amazingly damaging stuff.
Because corrupt British politicians want to fudge environmental figures, E10 is the only 95 octane we will get. E5 & E10 95 octane is a choice in Europe. 99 octane Shell V-Power States it has a maximum 0.7% ethanol content. Anyway think that is a pointless statement to put on petrol pumps?
97+ octane does not fall under the bio-renewable legislation yet it seems all British 97+ octane is E5. Great way to crash the economy as is purging the ‘make do and mend’ ethic of previous generations.
Its all about putting the average motorist the road
E10 has been around for years…. it’s nothing new, we’ve been using it for years in the UK & France
If you don’t have to diagnose and repair fuel system faults, why would you post such a pointless and meaningless comment?
France has had E10.
Plenty people how have used E10 haven’t noticed any problems….. But subsequent owners will.
Whatever the UK does to try and reduce CO2, NOx etc by reducing coal burn and changing to electric vehicles is quickly negated by China commisioning a new 500mw coal fired powere station every week and India wanting to increase its coal burn for energy production from 2billion to 3 billion tonnes of coal a year by 2030.
There is a similar problem with lawn mowers. Who will advise protection measures for these?
Not many people ride around towns all day on their lawn mowers so probably not considered a large polluter.
This will close many smaller retailers who don’t have enough tanks to offer high octane. None of my vehicles can use E10 so I’ll have to exclusively use large franchised service stations.
See what’s happening yet?
Be aware that the E10 fuel is already out there! I filled up at Tesco Aldershot yesterday evening & unknowingly now have E10 fuel in my 1991 car. I just automatically used the same pump as usual & put £50-worth in there before realising. I had about 1/4 tank of normal E5 unleaded in there so just hope there’s no lasting damage. 🙁 Will make sure I look next time though!
Found out our 2005 Ford Focus does not like the new unleaded, even though the government website said it was compatible.
My S Type Jaguar is now undrivable as I mistakenly filled up with E10.
If anyone was really concerned about health from the ingestion of poisons, how come smoking hasn’t been banned? Its a major contributor to 120000 smoking related deaths a year – ban that and save them, not to mention the silent assult on individuals from ‘passive’ smoking. And wait until the vape mugs start to be affected from that chuffing practice…