Up until now, E5 fuel has been the standard fuel for UK forecourts, keeping Britain’s wheels turning. From this summer onwards though, that’s set to change. In keeping with our national climate targets, the government is planning to make the newer E10 fuel the standard for the UK, as of September 2021. It’s probably going to make very little difference to anyone driving a brand new car, but anyone at the wheel of a classic, used, seized or salvage car will be wise to get familiar with the change in a little more detail, to avoid damaging their vehicle. If you’re one of those drivers, here’s the essentials of what you’ll need to know. First of all…
What is E10 fuel?
Essentially, E10 fuel is a lower-carbon petrol made up of standard petrol, as well as up to 10% bioethanol (hence the name). The ethanol itself is made up of various environmentally-friendly ingredients, including low-grade grains, sugar and waste wood. All of that makes it more sustainable than E5 fuel, which contains only 5% bioethanol.
The UK isn’t the only nation to make E10 the default choice for motorists - some countries in the European Union have already made the switch, including as France and Germany, where E10 has been used for some years now. E10 is already legal in the UK, but the issue is that it’s not yet as widely available as it is in some other countries. That’s at the crux of the government’s strategy going forward.
Why are we making the switch?
Moving from E5 to E10 fuel is a key part of the government’s ongoing mission to reduce the level of carbon emissions produced in the transport sector, bringing us a big step closer to achieving our target of becoming completely carbon neutral by 2050.
In the grand scale of things, switching from 5% to 10% bioethanol fuel might seem like a relatively small change that’s unlikely to yield big results. But actually, switching to E10 is projected to save us about 750,000 tonnes of carbon annually. That’s basically the same as taking about 350,000 cars off the road, and demonstrating once again that sometimes it’s the smallest changes that have the biggest impact. As an extra bonus, it’s also predicted to give a good bump to the British biofuel industry, as all the necessary materials can be refined right here in the UK.
Will E10 fuel be compatible with my car?
That’s naturally one of the biggest and most pressing questions that drivers are asking. The good news is that the government says almost all petrol cars are compatible with E10 petrol, especially if they’ve been manufactured after 2011.
Classic and older vehicles, on the other hand, won’t run quite so well on E10 fuel, especially if they were manufactured before 2002. This is largely because the higher bioethanol mix will do more to damage certain specific components, such as hoses, seals, plastics, fuel pumps and carburettors.
Thankfully, there is an alternative if your car isn’t compatible with E10, but unfortunately it’s going to come with an associated higher cost. The government recommends that rather than regular E10 fuel, drivers of older vehicles should switch to super-unleaded petrol. Just bear in mind that it will cost about 11p more per litre at the pump, which roughly equates to about £7.50 every time you fill up.
So, you might be wondering, how long is the rollout going to take? What happens if you misfuel? Well, unlike putting diesel in a petrol or vice versa, you’ll be glad to hear that there shouldn’t be any immediate serious problems from using E10 fuel in an older car. The problems only really start to arise if you continue to use it over a longer period - so in short, as long as you’re careful, you shouldn’t have much to worry about in terms of mis-fuelling.
There’s a handy tool on the government website that you can use to check if an individual vehicle can be fuelled with E10 or not. This can be used to check out a car you already own, or one that you’re considering buying from one of our online salvage car auctions right here at RAW2K.
And indeed, if you’re sizing up your next set of wheels, we’ve got plenty to choose from right here at RAW2K. Our auctions are refreshed on a daily and weekly basis, so there are always new deals to be had, and we’ve got vehicles from a range of leading manufacturers including Renault, Citroen and Vauxhall. Why not take a look around our site, and see what you can find?