Classic car owners warned accidentally using E10 fuel may ’cause harm’ to vehicles

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New E10 petrol will be introduced across forecourts later this year with a particular warning for owners of classic vehicles. Older models will be incompatible with the new fuel which could cause damage to key parts such as the car’s fuel hose and carburettors.

The Department for Transport has urged these owners to continue using E5 fuel after the transition.

This will remain available at many filling stations but it is likely some owners will not remember and accidentally use E10 fuel.

However, the DfT has warned repeatedly making this mistake is likely to “cause harm” to vehicles and is strictly “not recommended”.

They said: “Using a single tank of E10 fuel in a vehicle that is not compatible should not be a major problem – just make sure you fill up with the correct E5 petrol grade next time.

“Unlike putting petrol into a diesel engine, you shouldn’t need to drain the tank and, on a one-time basis, will not suffer engine damage as a result.

“Prolonged use of E10 petrol in a non-compatible vehicle, however, may cause harm and is not recommended.”

The RAC has also claimed drivers shouldn’t need to drain their fuel tank if they accidentally make a mistake and use the wrong fuel on occasion.

This could make it harder to start the car but one full up is unlikely to cause any lasting damage to the vehicles.

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They urge drivers to top up their tank with E5 as soon as possible, ideally before at least a third of the tank has been used.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said it was “vital” owners of older models were “aware of the changes”.

He has called for the DVLA to inform owners personally of the change and how they can ensure their cars are protected.

He said: “It is also vital that owners of affected vehicles are aware of the changes.

“We’d like to see the DVLA writing to these owners to inform them that E5 will no longer be the standard premium grade, and to let them know their options.”

The DfT has confirmed E5 fuel will still be sold at filling stations which sell at least two grades of petrol.

They say some rural and remote petrol stations may even sell E5 as standard instead of E10.

However, the ‘Introducing E10 fuel’ consultation last year warned E5 would be made the protection grade for a period of five years.

After this date, the protection grade allowance would be reviewed meaning there is no guarantee E5 will remain available. 

Experts at Hagerty Insurance have warned doubling the amount of ethanol in fuel can cause a variety of issues in older cars.

This is because ethanol is hygroscopic and can absorb water from the atmosphere which will find its way into cars.

This will lead to condensation in a fuel tank which can cause corrosion to some of the car’s key components.

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