This is the second blog in our series on Fuels. In the first blog we looked at premium fuels, now we take a look at ethanol in petrol (E10 and E85).
E10 is standard unleaded petrol (ULP) with 10% ethanol added. Expanded use of E10 is a strategy endorsed by the NRMA Board and aims to encourage the take-up of ethanol – which is locally produced and reduces Australia’s dependence on fossil fuels. Straight unleaded is now getting harder to find.
Vehicles built pre-1986, some post-1986 vehicles, most small engines such as chainsaws and whipper-snippers and most Japanese motorcycles are recommended NOT to use ethanol. These vehicles and power tools will have to use premium petrol when ULP becomes unavailable.
Motorists whose vehicles cannot use ethanol should be aware that all petrol distributed by United contains ethanol except its Premium 98. View a list of all petrol grades available in NSW.
The octane of E10 is commonly 93-94, so motorists whose vehicles are specified for 95 octane fuel should be cautious using E10. If you want to try E10 check that there are no unusual noises like rattling or pinging under acceleration, which is a sign that the octane is too low. United claims its E10 is 95 octane.
Check whether your vehicle is suitable to use an ethanol petrol blend.
A refuel of 50 litres at a price difference of 10 cents a litre between E10 and premium would cost an extra $5. But this has to be kept in perspective with the overall cost of running a vehicle.
You should not use E85 in any vehicle that is not designed for it. The only cars designed for E85 are the current model Holden Commodores that are so marked and the Saab Biofuel range. For other vehicles, check the recommendation in the owner’s manual or check with the dealer or manufacturer and adopt their recommendation.
In our next blog, we’ll take a look at Diesel.
Do you use an ethanol petrol blend in your car? What affect has it had on your car’s performance and reliability?