There has been plenty of discussion surrounding the new E10 petrol ever since it was introduced in September 2021. Despite being more eco-friendly than its predecessor, E5, there are now fears that it could cause damage to some vehicles.  

Tom Hixon, head of instructor support at Bill Plant Driving School, warned: “The distribution of E10 petrol in the UK began towards the latter of 2021, introducing a slightly more environmentally friendly source of fuel for petrol-powered vehicles.

“However, there is growing speculation about whether opting for this fuel over E5 might cause increased damage to your car in the winter months.

“The reasoning behind this concern is justified, as the increase to 10 percent renewable ethanol in E10 is likely to attract water to your vehicle.

“This is a cause for concern as increased water vapour may lead to accelerated corrosion and damage to the vehicle’s system.”

Mr Hixon continued: “Increased levels of water vapour in the engine and fuel may also cause the fuel to freeze in extreme temperatures.

“There are also concerns surrounding the acidic levels held by ethanol which could lead to faster decay of metal components within the vehicle.

“These fears surrounding E10 are understandable, but unlikely to occur as long as the car is not left for long periods of time.

“If you intend on leaving your car stagnant throughout the colder months, either aim to fill your tank up completely to leave less space for water vapour to enter or syphon what’s left in the fuel tank and leave it empty throughout these colder months – this will help avoid decay caused by trapped water vapour.”

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Lastly, the expert suggested: “If you are planning on driving your car throughout the colder months but are still worried about the effects E10 may have on your vehicle, switch between filling your car with E10 and super unleaded when you visit the petrol station.

“This way you will have both circulating throughout your vehicle maintaining the condition of the inner workings.”

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 also show that around 150,000 motorists in the UK put the wrong fuel in their cars every year, which could be disastrous when it comes to E10. 

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Dorry Potter, car and scrappage expert at National Scrap Car, echoed Mr Hixon’s worrying claims.

She said: “The biggest benefit of E10 over E5 is that it is better for the environment.

“Where E5 is 95 percent unleaded petrol and five percent ethanol, E10 is 90 percent unleaded petrol and 10 percent ethanol.

“Ethanol is made during the fermentation process of some crops such as sugarcane and grain, this means it is a more sustainable fuel as it is coming from a renewable source.

“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.

“Not something anyone needs with fuel prices still being high and the cost of living crisis.”

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