E10 intro prompts fuel additives boom

Published:  16 August, 2021

E10 petrol standard replaces E5 or 95 octane grade petrol at the pump from 1 September, and garages, motor factors and consumers have been racing to prepare for the switch.

Higher levels of ethanol in fuel are known to reduce CO2 emissions, and the government has estimated that the introduction of E10 could cut these by 750,000 tonnes per year. However, the higher ethanol content will cause engine deterioration in some older vehicles. While all cars and motorbikes built since 2011 are E10-ready, and many vehicles as far back as the late 1990s are also designed for the fuel, around 5% of cars on UK roads could suffer long-term damage if E10 was used.

Mike Schlup, MD at Kalimex, the distributors of JLM professional fuel additives, commented: “In contrast to petrol, bioethanol absorbs moisture, and if water remains suspended in the fuel, when it enters the engine, damage is not likely. However, once a critical level of water is absorbed, the water/ethanol mix drops out of the petrol and descends to the bottom of the tank. Should this be taken into the fuel injection system, the engine will probably stop running.”

Fuel with the higher 5% ethanol content will still be available, but with be higher octane premium petrol, which is more expensive and only on offer at fuel stations that have more than one pump.

Lucas Oil Products UK Sales and Operations Director Dan Morgan said: “If you put E10 fuel into the fuel system of an incompatible car, it will still run, but seals, plastics and metals may be damaged over longer periods.” According to Lucas Oil, sales of its ethanol engine protection additive rose by more than 400% over the summer.

Dan told members of the A1 retail buying group recently, that while the government’s campaign is advising the public that cars built before 2011 might not be compatible with E10, the Lucas Oil experience was that after the US made the switch to E10 and higher ethanol content some years ago, the problems were far more widespread: “The popular myth is that damage will only affect the classic car market and older family runabouts. The reality is very different. As many as 600,000 vehicles currently on our roads aren't compatible with E10.”

Aftermarket magazine will be taking a deep dive into the specifics of what the E10 switch-over means for garages. Look out for that in our October issue.

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