Last updated November 30, 2021
E10 fuel is the greener replacement for the E5 fuel Britain has been using for years. E10 fuel is made up of 90% regular unleaded and 10% ethanol, which gives it its name. E10 fuel has had a full roll out in fuel stations since September 2021, with all emission tests on cars being done using E10 fuel since 2016. The higher percentage of bioethanol results in lower carbon emissions, as the ethanol oxygenates the fuel and less CO2 is released into the atmosphere.
The standard E5 fuel contains up to 5% ethanol and can be used in any car with a petrol engine without any problems. However, using E10 fuel is not as simple as not all cars are compatible with this eco-friendlier fuel type. As of 2011, all cars sold must be E10 compatible, whereas drivers of cars registered prior to 2002 should not use E10 in their cars.
You can use the government’s E10 fuel vehicle checker here to confirm if your car is compatible to save any confusion on your next visit to the fuel station. The pumps will also be clearly marked as E10 or E5 for those who don’t have compatible vehicles.
All cars manufactured since the year 2011 are compatible with the greener, higher ethanol mix fuel type E10. However, there are still many cars on the road that were manufactured prior to 2011, which is estimated to be around 700,000 according to the Department for Transport (DfT).
If you happen to own a car that was manufactured before 2011 that isn’t compatible with E5 petrol, this change doesn’t mean you have to upgrade as you can still fuel your car with the higher specification petrol that is sold in fuel stations across the UK. This is usually labeled as super unleaded or premium unleaded. This refers to the higher octane of the fuel and has historically been favoured by people who drive performance cars. The higher-octane fuel will remain at the E5 specification so that cars of all ages can stay on the road.
However, the downside of using the premium or super unleaded is that is does come at a higher price point. If this is something that may lead you to purchasing a newer car to avoid the additional fuel costs, you can get a free valuation for your car in under 30 seconds and sell your car in under an hour with ourselves.
Putting E10 fuel into an incompatible car will not be detrimental to the vehicle. The common side effects of this would be more apparent on a cold start and the engine may run a little less smooth than usual.
The effects of putting E10 petrol in an incompatible vehicle will vary based on the engine and how much of the incorrect fuel has been used. If you have fuel tank is full with E10 fuel, it is recommended that you run the engine down to a third of a tank and then top up with E5 petrol. It will not cause issues to mix E5 and E10 fuel and it is unlikely you will need to use a breakdown service to drain the engine, like you would if you put the incorrect petrol in a diesel car.
The government have estimated the switch to E10 fuel will reduce the annual road transport emissions by 750,000-tonnes. This is the equivalent of removing 350,000 cars off the road in the UK.
This has been rolled out in an effort to significantly reduce emissions over the next 15 years before electric cars become the norm. E10 fuel has already been rolled out across most of the developed world, including most of Europe and Australia.
E10 fuel will be no more expensive for those with compatible vehicles and it will have the same price point as the old E5 grade fuel it is replacing. However, there will be an increase in cost for those that can’t use E10 fuel as they will have to make the switch to the more expensive super/premium unleaded.
Ethanol is a renewable fuel made from fermenting various plant materials, such as wheat and maize, and they are collectively known as biomass. The ethanol in fuel is used to oxygenate the fuel, which in turn reduces air pollution as it reduces the amount of carbon dioxide due to ethanol producing less CO2 than petrol when it is burnt.
The UK government have suggested we will see a slight reduction in fuel economy due to the roll out of E10 fuel, however this is likely to be as little as around 1%. The Government have also carried out an impact assessment on the full rollout of E10 and the results stated E10 fuel is likely to cost 0.2p per litre more than the E5 fuel it is replacing.