Engines On Older Cars Could Be Damaged By New Petrol

Wed 17th Jun 2020


Drivers of older and classic cars are being warned that the forthcoming switch to E10 unleaded fuel could cause significant damage to engines.

Petrol stations across the UK are being moved over to the greener E10 petrol over the next 12 months, a change which will reduce vehicle emissions by 750,000 tonnes a year, but the fuel can corrode some of the parts found in older engines. An investigation by classic vehicle insurer Hagarty UK has raised the issue, in what has been described as the biggest threat to older cars since the switch to unleaded fuel 20 years ago.

While the switch from E5 to E10 will affect mainly classic cars, there are some models from just 10 years ago which could be at risk.

“Hagerty represents the community of owners of classic cars, modern classic cars and motorbikes, and calls on the Government and Petrol Retailers Association to accelerate information campaigns for drivers and riders,” says Hagerty editor James Mills.

“There may be extensive mechanical modifications required by some models, which can be a costly exercise – during an already challenging economic environment.”
While E5 will remain on petrol station forecourts for at least five more years, Guy Lachlan, managing director of Classic Oils advises owners to check what changes their engine may need now.

“You’ve either got to use fuel with no ethanol or change the materials that don’t like it,” Lachlan said. 

“If you are in any doubt about your rubber fuel lines, change them. Get rid of your fibreglass petrol tank and install an aluminium one. 

“The other thing ethanol really doesn’t like is solder. If you are running a soldered float in your carburettor, then think about carrying a spare – they’re generally quite easy to change.”