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New E10 petrol is not compatible with all cars, with drivers warned to check vehicles using government's E10 Compatibility Checker


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Motorists are being urged to check whether their vehicles are a match for new unleaded petrol being rolled out to forecourts this summer.

Over the next few months E10 will replace E5 as the standard grade of petrol in the UK because it is more environmentally friendly.

E10 petrol is being rolled out at petrol stations across the UK this summer
E10 petrol is being rolled out at petrol stations across the UK this summer

E10 petrol contains up to 10% renewable ethanol, which is added to help reduce CO2 emissions. Until now petrol in the UK has included up to to 5% - but by blending fuel with a greater proportion of renewable ethanol, less fossil fuel is needed, which in turn helps protect the environment.

While the vast majority of cars will automatically be compatible with the new E10 petrol there is a word of warning for motorists, particularly directed at those with vehicles manufactured before 2011, to double check before filling up.

The new E10 fuel is kinder to the environment but not compatible with all vehicles
The new E10 fuel is kinder to the environment but not compatible with all vehicles

All vehicles produced since 2011 have been made to accept the new E10 grade, which it is hoped will contribute to UK efforts to tackle the problems of climate change and meet emissions targets.

Breakdown service the RAC estimates, however, that up to 600,000 vehicles on our roads may not be suited to having E10 in their tanks.

Classic cars, or what the government also refers to as 'cherished' and older vehicles, some models of moped particularly those with an engine size of 50cc or under and some specific makes and models of car from the early 2000s are among those which may not be able to take the new petrol on board.

Owners of classic cars are among those who must be careful about their use of E10 petrol
Owners of classic cars are among those who must be careful about their use of E10 petrol

With the RAC warning, in its online guide, that anyone with a car registered before 2002 should be particularly cautious.

Is my car compatible?

Motorists can check whether their vehicle is suitable for the new petrol through the government's new online E10 Compatibility Checker available here. Owners will need to know the vehicle's manufacturer, model, engine size and the year it was made in order to get a definitive answer.

Those who own engines which are not compatible with the new E10 petrol are advised to continue using the higher-octane 'super' E5 petrol, which is expected to remain at most petrol stations after E10 comes into use.

But that will also come at a higher cost - with estimates suggesting drivers may eventually pay between £6 and £7 more for a tank of E5 petrol in a standard family car.

Drivers who need to continue using E5 petrol may find they're soon paying more
Drivers who need to continue using E5 petrol may find they're soon paying more

At petrol stations a black circular E10 or E5 label will now be clearly visible on both the petrol dispenser and nozzle, at stations now selling both types of fuel, to help motorists identify which one to use.

Although anyone who fills their non-compatible car with E10 in error should not panic.

Experts say using a single tank of E10 petrol in a car that isn't designed for it should not be a major problem but should never become a regular occurrence.

The new fuel options will be clearly displayed for petrol station customers on nozzles and displays
The new fuel options will be clearly displayed for petrol station customers on nozzles and displays

Unlike putting petrol into a diesel engine, there would be no need to drain the tank and as a one-off event it would not damage the vehicle's engine.

But prolonged use of E10 in a vehicle which is not suitable may cause more harm over time. Over longer periods, the RAC says, it could lead to damage to seals, plastics and metals not designed to take E10 as a result of bioethanol's 'corrosive properties'.

Alternatively vehicles which can take E10 will have no problem still using E5 or even, says the government, a combination of the two fuel types if required. Information on the roll-out says it is 'perfectly safe' to mix them in the same tank in compatible cars if either fuel is not available.

To learn more about the roll-out of E10 petrol this year click here.

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