Is it all doom and gloom for classic car owners as we see the introduction of E10 fuel in the UK?


As many car owners in the UK would have heard or read about, the UK government has announced the introduction of E10-grade fuel starting this month. It comes into effect in the hopes it will reduce annual transport CO2 emissions by 750,000 tonnes, which is roughly the equivalent of 350,000 cars. This decision by the government is crucial if they are to stay on target of reducing the country’s overall greenhouse gas emissions by 78 per cent by 2035.

So what is E10 fuel, and how does it differ to the current E5 fuel we use every day when filling up at petrol stations? The main difference is that E10 contains 10 per cent of bioethanol, compared to two to three per cent found in E5. As alcohol (one of the key ingredients of bioethanol) is considered a renewable element rather than a fossil fuel, it has a much lower carbon footprint, and has proven successful in other European countries, hence the introduction to UK petrol stations. E5 fuel will still be available to purchase at your local garage, but it will cost you more, approximately 15 pence per litre.

For classic car owners, this implementation of E10 fuel has the potential to have a damaging impact on their vehicles. This is mainly due to the fact that ethanol is able to absorb water from the atmosphere, which can find its way into your car, causing condensation in fuel tanks, fuel lines and carburettors, this in turn can cause corrosion in these areas. However, there are fuels available that do not contain ethanol and can be purchased at fuel specialists such as Classic Oils. We would recommend taking your classic car to a specialist to ask for a second opinion and what they would advise for your particular make and model.

That being said some experts have suggested that classic engines could potentially run better using ethanol-blended fuel. Paul Ireland, author of Classic Engines: Modern Fuel explains: “There’s not a lot of evidence for ethanol causing problems with cars running (alcohol fuel). We’ve found with the classic engines, carburettor engines run a lot better on fuel that has ethanol in and there are various reasons for that. In other words, ethanol petrol engines run better and because they run better they are actually less likely to do themselves damage.”

Although there is a lot of information out there about the effects of E10 and what it could mean for classic car owners, we would encourage drivers to check whether their vehicle is compatible with E10 fuel using the government’s website. At Marc Brunel Recruitment we are passionate about the maintenance of classic cars, working with like-minded people and companies across the UK who are specialists in the restoration and up keep of classic vehicles. If you would like to know more about how we can help you, please email

– Akash Cheeda

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