The RAC estimates that there are around 600,000 older vehicles and classic cars on British roads that should not use E10 and instead continue to use E5 petrol. Figures show that around 150,000 motorists in the UK put the wrong fuel in their cars every year. With that in mind, an expert warned about the possible consequences of putting E10 in incompatible cars.
Tom Hixon, Head of Instructor Support at Bill Plant Driving School, said: “E10 fuel was introduced in the UK in September 2021; an upgrade to E5 fuel which uses five percent ethanol compared to 10 percent in the new version.
“The rest of the fuel source comprises regular unleaded petrol, and doubling the ethanol in fuel goes a long way to reducing CO2 emissions.
“All petrol cars built for the UK market since 2011 are deemed compatible to take E10 fuel, and even though many older vehicles can also function with it, drivers should be wary when changing their fuel source.
“This is especially apparent for those with vehicles registered before 2002, with leaks and corrosion a probable side effect given E10’s higher bioethanol content.”
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“This greener fuel is also estimated to reduce CO2 emissions by 750,000 tonnes per year, which is the equivalent of taking up to 350,000 cars off the road.”
Ms Potter added: “There are two issues with this fuel though. The first is that not all cars are compatible with it meaning that if someone was to absentmindedly put this fuel in a non-compatible car it is likely to cause damage.
“The Government has a tool on their website which helps motorists check whether their car is able to have E10.
“Secondly, E10 is less efficient for motorists, due to the higher ethanol content drivers will get fewer miles per gallon than with E5, meaning more trips to the pumps and more money coming out of wallets.
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“Not something anyone needs with fuel prices still being high and the cost of living crisis.”
NFU Mutual also advised drivers that prevention is always better than a cure, so drivers should double-check what fuel they can use in their cars.
Dave Rossall, NFU Mutual’s Motor Claims Manager, echoed Mr Potter’s comments and urged drivers to check their compatibility with E10 before visiting a petrol station.
He said: “Putting the wrong fuel into a vehicle is comparatively easy to do so it should be reassuring to know that there is insurance cover in place.
“Expert opinion varies but putting E10 petrol into an older petrol driven vehicle once should be OK, but it’s not recommended to repeatedly make that mistake because it could cause damage.
“Putting E10 petrol into a diesel vehicle will definitely spell trouble.”
Putting petrol into a diesel car by mistake is easier than vice versa because the pump nozzle will fit into the wider filler neck of a diesel.
Putting diesel into a petrol tank is more challenging but not impossible.
When arriving at the filling station forecourt, drivers should not rely on the colour of the pump but instead, make sure the correct fuel is used by checking the information on or near the nozzle.
Also, motorists could put an alert sticker inside the fuel flap to provide one last opportunity to check that all is well.