The AA has urged drivers not to “panic” about the introduction of new ‘E10’ petrol in the UK next month. The government has confirmed the new fuel, which contains up to 10 percent bioethanol, will arrive on British forecourts by September, replacing the existing E5 petrol with half the bioethanol content.

According to the government, the E10 fuel is an “an eco-friendly blend” that “could cut transport carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 750,000 tonnes a year”. The Department for Transport (DfT) says that’s the equivalent of taking 350,000 cars off the road every year.

However, some older vehicles will not run on the new blend, preferring the E5 petrol with just five percent bioethanol content. As a result, the government has confirmed E5 petrol will continue to be sold in the form of ‘super unleaded’ premium fuels. These fuels, which include Shell’s V-Power petrol, will allow classic cars and those from the early 2000s to fill up at existing petrol stations.

Hand holding fuel pump and refilling car at petrol station

With the potential to damage some older petrol vehicles through the prolonged use of E10 petrol, and the extra costs of premium fuels, there is concern among some motorists – particularly those with older vehicles – about refuelling. But the AA has said there is “no need to panic” as it believes 98 percent of petrol-powered cars in the UK are capable of running the new fuel.

The motoring organisation says all cars built after 2011 are capable of running E10 fuel, and “most” cars built after 2001 are also able to use the new petrol mix. If drivers accidentally fill up with E10, the AA advises simply topping up with super unleaded as it takes “prolonged” use to cause any damage. The organisation also warned users of petrol-powered garden machinery to use premium fuel as the machines are “likely not to be compatible” with E10 petrol.

Those who are concerned about their car’s ability to run on E10 fuel are advised to use the government’s online vehicle checker. The web-based system is designed to give drivers a clearer picture of whether their vehicle will cope with the new fuel.

The Outlierman Classic Car Hire

“Over 98 percent of petrol cars in the UK can run perfectly well on E10, but some older models, classic cars and motorcycles shouldn’t use it,” said AA technical specialist Greg Carter. “The extra bio-ethanol content can be more corrosive to older fuel system components, so drivers of older cars and motorcycles should check the government website before heading to the pump. Petrol-powered garden machinery and generators are also likely not to be compatible, so these should use super unleaded after September.

“If you do drive an incompatible vehicle and accidentally fill up with E10, don’t worry, just fill up with super unleaded next time. There’s no need to get it drained as it takes some time for any damage to occur.”