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

Eco-friendly fuel E10 was introduced to UK forecourts last September as the new standard for petrol. But not all cars are able to run on it. Find out what E10 is, how it helps the environment and whether you can use it in your car.

Eco-friendly fuel E10 was introduced to UK forecourts last September as the new standard for petrol. But not all cars are able to run on it. Find out what E10 is, how it helps the environment and whether you can use it in your car.

Written by
Rebecca Goodman
Insurance expert
Last Updated
6 min read
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What is E10 fuel?

E10 is a blend of petrol and ethanol. It’s designed to help cut emissions from transport that contribute to global warming.

The previous standard, E5, contained no more than 5% ethanol mixed with the petrol. As suggested by the name, E10 fuel increases this proportion to 10%, with the renewable ethanol made from materials including low-grade grains, sugars and waste wood.


Why was E10 introduced?

E10 petrol is already widely used around the world, including across Europe, the USA and Australia.

Under the government’s Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation, climate change targets have been set for fuel to come from renewable sources such as biofuels, to help the UK become net zero by 2050. Using bioethanol in place of traditional petrol can reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, so increasing the ethanol content of petrol is a way to help meet those targets.

Until electric cars become the norm, the government says it wants to take steps to reduce the environmental impact of the millions of petrol vehicles already on our roads.

Did you know…?

The government says the introduction of E10 on UK roads “could cut transport CO2 emissions by 750,000 tonnes a year – the equivalent of taking 350,000 cars off the road, or all the cars in North Yorkshire”.

Is my car compatible with E10 petrol?

E10 petrol is compatible with almost all (95%) petrol-powered vehicles on the road today, including all cars and motorbikes built since 2011.

It’s estimated that there are around 600,000-700,000 petrol cars on the road that aren’t compatible. Vehicles that may not be able to use E10 fuel include:

  • Classic and older vehicles
  • Some specific models, particularly those from the early 2000s
  • Some mopeds, particularly those with an engine size of 50cc or under.

If your car, bike or van was manufactured from 2019 onwards you should be able to see an ‘E10’ and ‘E5’ label near the filler cap showing the fuel(s) they can use.

If your vehicle is older, use the UK government’s E10 compatibility checker, which covers cars, vans, motorbikes and mopeds, to see if you can safely use E10. And if there’s any doubt, follow your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations on which fuel to use.

Where can I buy E10 fuel?

E10 fuel is available at almost all petrol stations across Britain. It’s expected to be rolled out across Northern Ireland from November 2022.

Most petrol stations that offer two grades of petrol stock both E10 (regular unleaded) and E5 (super unleaded) petrol, which is now the more expensive of the two.

Some rural, remote or very small filling stations may sell only E10 or E5 petrol as standard (but not both).

When it comes to the pumps, a circular ‘E10’ or ‘E5’ label will be clearly shown on both the pump and the nozzle, making it easy for you to identify the fuel you need.

What petrol can I get if my vehicle’s not compatible with E10?

If your vehicle or equipment isn’t compatible with E10 fuel, you’ll still be able to use E5 by getting the ‘Super’ grade petrol from most filling stations.

If your car isn’t compatible with E10 fuel, try not to worry too much. You’ll still be able to use E5 by getting super unleaded petrol (97+ octane), which remains available at many larger filling stations. You will pay more for this, though.

Alternatively, it might be time to think about part exchanging your current car if it isn’t compatible and look for something a bit newer that will run on E10. Or perhaps consider an electric car, which is even better for the environment.

Did you know?

In 1908, Henry Ford designed his Model T – one of the very first cars – to run on a mixture of gasoline and ethanol. Ford called this mixture ‘the fuel of the future’.

What difference will E10 fuel make to car performance?

Switching to E10 could reduce the CO2 emissions from your petrol vehicle by around 2%, on top of the 2% savings you previously got from using E5.

On the downside, ethanol is less fuel-efficient than petrol. According to the Department for Transport, there’s around a 1% drop in the number of miles you can drive on a gallon of fuel compared with the old standard, but you’re unlikely to notice too much difference in everyday driving.

At this kind of level, driving style and driving conditions could have a higher impact than the change in fuel. Sticking to the speed limits and braking in time, avoiding using the air con and regularly maintaining your car will help maximise fuel efficiency.

Does E10 damage your car?

Car manufacturers have known about the plans to introduce E10 fuel for a considerable time so, since 2011, all new cars have had to be E10 compatible. But drivers of older vehicles may need to take measures to prevent E10 unleaded causing damage to their cars.

Bioethanol can be more corrosive than petrol, so seals, hoses, plastics and metals – particularly alloys – may need to be replaced more often.

Ethanol is also hygroscopic, meaning that it absorbs and even draws in water from the atmosphere. This could potentially lead to condensation in fuel tanks. Plus, fuel lines and carburettors that were never meant to come into contact with water can now be exposed to it, resulting in corrosion or rust to components.

What happens if I put in the wrong fuel by mistake?

If you’ve filled up with E10 and you should have used E5, it might make the engine difficult to start and you may experience a strange knocking sound. But it shouldn’t be a huge problem – just top up with the right fuel as soon as possible. Using E10 fuel in a non-compatible car over a long period of time, though, could cause lasting damage to the engine.

If your vehicle is compatible with E10 petrol, it’s perfectly safe to mix E5 and E10 in the same tank, or fill up with E5 if E10 isn’t available.

If you’ve put diesel in a petrol car or vice versa, you’ve got a problem. Putting petrol in a diesel car can potentially cause serious and expensive damage to the engine. See more in our guide to misfuelling.

Is E10 petrol more expensive than other fuel types?

Before introducing E10 fuel, the government carried out an impact assessment and found that using it might be up to 0.2p a litre cheaper than E5 petrol. But bioethanol production is having to be ramped up, with wholesale petrol prices reflecting this. World events have also caused prices at the pump to rocket, so you’re unlikely to be feeling the benefits.

It's also worth noting that drivers of some older cars pre-dating 2011 who can’t use E10 can expect to pay more. That’s because they’ll need to switch to E5 super unleaded, which is more expensive than regular unleaded, as is diesel.

Frequently asked questions

Can E10 be used in diesel cars?

No, nothing changes for diesel. The change in fuel applies only to petrol vehicles.

Can I use E10 petrol in my classic car?

No, it’s not advisable and could cause damage to your vehicle. What’s more, there are suggestions that the Department for Transport may potentially remove E5 petrol from pumps in September 2026 – although this isn’t finalised. So it may be that after this date you’ll have to find specially created fuel additives to keep your classic car on the road in a similar way to what happened when unleaded petrol was introduced.

If you have a fibreglass petrol tank, you may have to install an aluminium one, and you may have to upgrade the car’s fuel lines. Check your carburettor to see if it could have problems.

Can I use E10 in my petrol-powered garden tools?

If you’ve got petrol-driven two-stroke equipment or garden machinery like lawnmowers, chainsaws, shredders and aerators, you’ll need to check with the manufacturer or dealer before switching to E10 if the manual doesn’t give instructions.

Jet-ski and boat-owners will also need to check too.

Will E10 fuel help reduce air pollution?

E10 fuel will help reduce the kinds of emissions that impact climate change, like CO2. But it won’t make a difference to emissions that are a concern for air quality and public health, including particulates, nitrogen oxides (NOx) and hydrocarbons. This means that the introduction of E10 petrol is unlikely to have any positive impact on air quality.

Will E10 petrol make any difference to whether I can drive into low emission zone?

No, it won’t change the status of your car if you want to drive in a clean air zone (CAZ), low emission zone (LEZ) or ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ).

Vehicles are rated on their Euro emissions standard, not the fuel they use.

I’m putting my vehicle in storage. Should I empty the tank of E10 fuel?

Neither petrol nor E10 like being stored. Water can separate out and evaporation can mean that the fuel in your tank becomes denser. If you’re concerned, it might be an idea to use super unleaded, with less than 5% ethanol, for your last tankful before putting your vehicle away.

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