10 out of 10? What is E10 fuel and can I use it in my car?

Any regular driver will have stopped recently at a filling station to top up with fuel for their car or van and seen a sign warning that the petrol they are about to put in their vehicle is now called E10.

There was probably also a message saying that you should check before putting the fuel nozzle into your car’s tank and squeezing the ‘fill’ lever.

So what is this new fuel?

It was introduced last month (September) and E10, as its name might suggest, is made up of 10% ethanol and 90% oil–based petrol. The outgoing fuel, called E5, had... you’ve guessed it, 5% ethanol in it. E10 isn’t especially new – in fact, it’s been used widely around the world for several years.

As ethanol produces less CO2 than normal oil fuels, increasing the amount of it in each gallon of petrol will bring down the total carbon dioxide emitted by the UK’s cars – the Government believes this could be by as much as 750,000 tonnes a year.

This will help everyone meet this country’s climate change targets for the next few years, until the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars comes into effect, scheduled for 2030.

Can you use it in your car?

The answer is probably ‘yes’. The Government says that 95% of all cars on the UK’s roads will be perfectly OK with the new fuel in their tanks. The only vehicles likely to be affected are older cars, and some mopeds, especially those with small engines.

Classic and collector’s cars are clearly going to be affected but if your car was built before 2010, it’s worth checking whether it is compatible with the new fuel. The Government has a useful website where you can find out if you are E10-friendly: https://www.gov.uk/check-vehicle-e10-petrol.

As this fuel is going to be so widely used, it should not affect your car’s new or used warranty, such as one offered by WarrantyDirect. But if you’re in any doubt, you should contact your warranty provider for clarification.

If you haven’t had to fill up for a while – and many people have driven less than normal over the last year – it’s fine to mix E10 in with the E5 fuel still in your tank.

It’s estimated that the new fuel will make your car slightly less economical than it was before, but the difference will be very small, around half a tank’s worth per year. Drivers of high performance cars – for whom fuel economy is not usually a priority – will still be able to buy E5 fuel, but it will be 97+ octane, which helps with efficiency and power.

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