The UK has switched from using older E5 petrol to E10 at fuel stations, but what does this mean for motorists?
It’s usually a simple choice when you pull up at a filling station pump – unleaded petrol, diesel or sometimes super-unleaded petrol. But, in September 2021, the UK changed the standard unleaded petrol from ‘E5’ to ‘E10’, accompanied with warnings about older cars that weren’t compatible with the new fuel. Here, we’ll explain what you need to know about E10 and why you probably don’t need to worry.
What is E10 petrol?
E10 petrol gets its name from the fact it has up to 10% ethanol in it, while E5 petrol has up to 5%. Having a higher ethanol content helps to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, partly because the crops that are grown to create the fuel capture CO2 from the atmosphere. The small increase in ethanol from E5 to E10 could add up to big CO2 savings across the whole of the UK.
Around 700,000 cars currently on UK roads aren’t compatible with the new fuel. However, every petrol car built in the last decade will accept E10, along with most petrol cars built in the decade before that.
Why was E10 petrol introduced?
CO2 is one of the main greenhouse gases contributing to climate change.
Within the last few years, we have already seen a noticeable change in temperatures and weather patterns both in the UK and across the world. These will become increasingly unpredictable unless changes are made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The government has targets it needs to meet relating to climate change. You may have seen the introduction of Clean Air Zones (CAZ) in cities such as Birmingham and Bath, and Ultra Low Emissions Zones (ULEZ) in Central London. E10 petrol is expected to play a key role in helping to achieve these climate change targets.
The introduction of E10 petrol at UK fuel stations could cut transport CO2 emissions by 750,000 tonnes a year – that’s the equivalent of taking 350,000 cars off the road, or all the cars in North Yorkshire. The change has already been successfully made across Europe, the US and Australia.
How will I know if my car is compatible with E10?
If you have an older car, it’s important to check that your vehicle is compatible with E10 before filling up. You can do this quickly using this helpful tool on the government’s website. Generally speaking, all cars registered after 2011 are compatible, while many models registered before this can safely use E10 fuel too.
What if my car isn't compatible with E10 fuel?
One or two E10 fill-ups shouldn’t hurt your car if it isn’t compatible, but long-term usage can cause problems with older vehicles such as perished fuel lines. Super-unleaded petrol (or whatever brand name is used to signify its premium-ness – look for a RON rating of 97 or more) is still an E5 fuel, so owners of older petrol cars could put this in their tanks if E10 isn’t an option. Alternatively, you can buy fuel additives to allow your older car to run on E10 petrol, which will need to be added with every tank of fuel.
Is E10 safe for my car?
E10 is perfectly safe to use provided your vehicle is compatible. Modern petrol engines have been designed with this fuel in mind, and many cars were made compatible ahead of the deadline set by legislators, too.
How will I know the difference between E10 and E5 fuel at the petrol station?
Both E10 and E5 fuels will be clearly labelled at the pump. This is an example of what you can expect to see when you fill up.
What is the difference between E10 and E5 petrol?
The only difference between E5 and E10 petrol is that one has more ethanol than the other. For many drivers, that won’t really mean anything – as long as your car can take E10, just fill up as normal.
What if the fuel station has run out of E10? Is it safe to mix both types of petrol?
It is completely safe to mix E5 & E10 petrol. So if you get to the petrol station and only E5 is available, don’t worry that you can’t fill up. Your car’s on-board computer will automatically adjust its settings to account for whatever blend you’ve filled up with.
Will E10 petrol affect the performance of my car?
Reportedly, E10 may slightly increase your fuel consumption, so you might be wondering if the move to E10 to save CO2 emissions was worth it. However, unless you analyse your fuel bills in minute detail, you’re unlikely to notice much of a difference in how often you fill up with E10 compared to how often you filled up with E5.
It’s not thought that there are any differences when it comes to the performance of the engine – although performance cars designed for super-unleaded fuel may not be quite as powerful when running on standard petrol.
Is E10 cheaper than E5 petrol?
The switch to E10 petrol didn’t result in higher fuel pump prices – recent high prices have been due to other factors. But as mentioned above, E10 may slightly increase your fuel consumption, which would slightly increase the cost of filling up.
Often, though, super-unleaded E5 petrol is considerably more expensive than standard E10 petrol. It’s a premium fuel and is typically around 10p per litre more than standard petrol. Generally, if your car is fine to run on E10 fuel, it’ll be cheaper to run on E10 than on E5.
Worried about driving a non E10 compatible car?
At Motorpoint, we only sell nearly new cars, meaning all our vehicles are E10 petrol compatible. Browse our choice of cars online or visit your local store and take one out for a spin. All cars are sold with a warranty, so peace of mind comes as standard.