Does E10 fuel damage your engine? Fact-checked

E10 biofuel: Department for Transport explains why it’s ‘better'

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The new petrol regulations mean that unleaded fuel will contain up to 10 percent bio-ethanol instead of five percent. Most cars built since 2000 are compatible with E10, but not every car can use E10 fuel. On top of that, there have been some concerns that E10 fuel damages your engine.

E10 is a new, greener blend of petrol that is intended to reduce emissions.

As of September, the Government has changed the standard petrol grade to E10 to cut back on carbon dioxide emissions.

This petrol contains double the bioethanol of E5 and it’s made up of petrol and ethanol from materials including low-grade grains, sugars and waste wood.

E10 is sold in the UK and elsewhere in Europe and all new cars sold in Europe since 2011 can use it.

However, lots of suppliers in the UK choose not to sell it due to fears that it will damage older cars.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation told What Car: “When E10 appears on the forecourts, drivers need to know whether their cars can use it without being damaged.

“While some of those vehicles incompatible with E10 fuel will be historic models, many will be old but serviceable everyday runabouts that people on a tight travel budget rely on to get about.”

Recent research carried out by What Car? suggested that E10 is potentially less efficient than E5.

Autocar explained the issue: “The problem is worse in smaller-engined vehicles.

“Drivers of shopping cars would end up filling their cars more often, which isn’t the point of owning a small car with a tiny engine.”

Even though it is thought that E10 petrol will help reduce transport-related CO2 emissions and petrol prices, the fact that it has a slightly lower energy density than E5 means that fuel consumption could increase slightly when using E10.

Does E10 fuel damage your engine?

Rumours are flying around that E10 fuel damages your engine and there is some truth to this.

According to the experts at Autocar, E10 petrol’s higher bioethanol content is corrosive to rubber parts, gaskets, seals, metals and plastics, which causes engine damage.

The site adds: “E10 could dislodge deposits in older engines and fuel systems, causing blockages.

“It should only be used with expert advice, which means pretty much never.”

You can check if your vehicle can run on E10 petrol via the Government website here (

If it isn’t, Autocar recommends that owners of vulnerable cars source replacement engine components made with ethanol-compatible materials.

Otherwise, the advice adds: “A quick fix is to use the higher-octane 97-99 Ron ‘super unleaded’ E5 petrol, which is expected to remain available at most fuel stations after E10 comes into use.”

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