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Classic owners face introduction of higher ethanol fuel by end of 2019

Petrol stations will have to display new labels to show motorists how much biofuel and ethanol is in their petrol and diesel as fears mount the Government is paving the way to introduce E10 fuel – a blend that is potentially dangerous for classic cars.

From September, forecourt pumps will have to display signs for standard unleaded as E5 (5% ethanol) and diesel as B7 (7% biodiesel). Although no official statement has been made, the move paves the way for E10 to be introduced by the end of the year.

Petrol retailers have been adding biofuel and ethanol to petrol for years because it helps reduce carbon-dioxide emissions. But E10 unleaded petrol that contains 10% ethanol is potentially harmful to classics.

According to the Government, around 800,000 vehicles would not be compatible with E10 fuel. However, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) puts that figure closer to 1.4m – nearly double Whitehall's estimate.

Using E10 fuel in a classic can cause blockage to fuel filters, damage to fuel pumps as well as causing fuel hoses to degrade and a host of carburettor problems.

While owners of traditional classics such as the Jaguar E-type. Mini, MGB and Triumph Stag have been well aware of problems caused by increasing ethanol content in fuel, it’s a issue that can also affect a host of modern classics, including Porsche 911s and Mazda MX-5s.

Proposed legislation means that most supermarkets would continue to sell E5 fuel – at least for the next three years.

It’s not the first time the Government has proposed a switch to a higher ethanol fuel. Plans to introduce E10 were put forward in 2013 but ministers opted to stay with E5.