Since the early 1990’s, E10 has earned a place at almost every service station in Australia. It’s marketed as cheaper and better for the environment – but does it really live up to the hype?
As well as praise, E10 has more than it’s fair share of critics. The truth is there’s been a lot of misinformation about E10 and how good it is for your car.
In this article, we’ll answer some of these questions: What is E10 fuel? What’s the difference between E10 and 91? And is E10 bad for your car? There’s a lot to think about, so we’ve done the hard work for you.
What is E10 fuel?
E10 fuel is unleaded petrol blended with around 10% ethanol. Ethanol is a colourless alcohol made by distilling agricultural by-products. By combining the two, vehicles can run smoothly while using less fossil fuel.
What’s the benefit of E10? Ethanol is considered a renewable fuel when it’s produced agriculturally, which it is in Australia. While there were some issues early on, E10 is a safe and reliable fuel that won’t wreck your car. It’s also quite a bit cheaper to buy than regular fuel.
E10 vs 91 vs 95 vs 98 – Fuel type comparison
Most petrol stations will give you access to multiple types of fuel, from E10 to 98. E10 and 91 are considered standard fuels, while 95 and 98 are marketed as higher quality, and command a much higher price!
But the marketing is a little deceptive. The different fuel types don’t represent an overall quality increase, they represent one specific metric. The measure RON, or Research Octane Number. Higher RON fuels are more resistant to knocking, an uncontrolled explosion in a car’s pistons.
Here’s the thing – knocking is only an issue in supercharged or turbo engines with a high compression ratio. In these cars, 91RON or E10 are more likely to cause knocking. However, in non-sports cars, high RON fuels are effectively a waste of money.
Is E10 better for the environment?
Yes, E10 is better for the environment than regular unleaded, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, ethanol’s manufacturing process is a lot less environmentally damaging than petrol. Petroleum products are refined from crude oil, which is pulled from the ground through high impact mining. Oil is also not a renewable resource, so there’s only so much we can use.
Ethanol is an agricultural product. Admittedly, there are environmental issues associated with agriculture, including land clearing and the use of some pesticides. Even so, the environmental impact of producing ethanol is much lower than petrol.
E10 also produces lower emissions in the car. Ethanol is about 35% oxygen and burns cleaner than petrol. E10 fuel has been found to reduce the emissions of fuel by up to 30%. Most of Australia’s ethanol is also locally sourced, primarily fermenting left-over starch from making flour. Queensland is a big source of ethanol, where it’s made from sorghum.
If you really want to do something good for the environment, you could replace your car with car share. GoGet members have access to 2,800 vehicles from hatchbacks, to vans, to convertibles, and you can easily use GoGet instead of owning a car. GoGet can also save you money – potentially thousands!
Is E10 bad for your car, or is E10 OK?
For the large majority of vehicles on the road, E10 won’t do any damage. In the early days of E10, quality control regulations weren’t as stringent as they are today. As cars also weren’t optimised for E10, there were some problems.
But today E10 fuel is made better, cars are built better, and there are better regulations. Cars built after about 1995 are all made with E10 in mind, and most will run fine on it. The video below has more information.
There are some exceptions, including vehicles with carburetors and high performance cars. Your car’s manual will list the manufacturer’s recommendations. If you’re concerned, there are websites that list E10 compatible cars. Search “E10 vehicle lookup” and you’ll find them.
Which GoGet cars use which fuel?
GoGet members don’t have to worry about the cost of fuel – we pay it for them. However, the fuel cards members use to buy fuel will only pay for certain fuel in certain cars.
For most GoGet vehicles, including our hatchbacks, SUVs, vans, and people movers, we use E10 or 91. We replace our cars every 3 or 4 years, so they’re designed to run well on E10. For our luxury cars, such as our BMW, Audi and Mercedes Benz models, we use 95 or 98.
Why do we use premium fuel for the premium models? As we mentioned above, premium fuels become more important in engines with a higher compression ratio, such as turbocharged vehicles. Using a low RON fuel in a higher end car can result in uncontrolled explosions in the cylinder. Practical Motoring has an in depth guide on this if you’re curious.
Is E10 or 91 cheaper?
If you’re not a GoGet member then fuel will still cost you money. So is E10 fuel cheaper than regular unleaded fuel?
Long story short, E10 is cheaper at the bowser but can be less efficient. What kind of car you drive and how optimised it is for E10 determines how much less efficient it might be. In some cars E10 will cost you more over the long term, but never by very much. For newer, E10 optimised cars, E10 can come out cheaper.
Drive tested this in 2012 and found E10 to be slightly more expensive – about $5 more expensive over 2000km. So the difference is fairly minimal.
Too much to think about? There’s a better way.
Figuring out fuel types and looking after your car takes a lot of time, money, and effort. But there is another option. Instead of owning a car, thousands of Australian’s are using car share, to replace either their main or secondary car.
It’s not as daunting as it seems! A large car share network like GoGet gives you access to thousands of cars across the country, of all different types. You can use a small runabout, a van, or a convertible – whatever kind of car you need for your trip! You can also book from as little as one hour, so no trip is too short.
But the icing on the cake is the location of the cars. GoGet members don’t need to travel far to find a car, there’s often one at the end of their street! To find a car near you, check out our find a car page. And no – you don’t need to pay for petrol. In fact, you’ll probably start to forget how much petrol costs, like most of us have!
Get started with GoGet today!