Update from October 2012: The NSW State Government has changed the E10 requirements again. The phase-out of straight unleaded petrol (ULP) has been abandoned but the mandate that fuel suppliers must sell 6% of their total petrol sales as ethanol has been retained. Therefore you may continue to see ULP in service stations, although reports to NRMA indicate that it is hard to find. A reminder also that E85 is available at a limited number of servos – you must not use this fuel unless your vehicle is suitable for it, for instance all current model Holden Commodores, the Saab Biopower models and a limited number of current Chrysler models.
The NSW Government recently announced that it was abandoning the phase-out of standard unleaded petrol (ULP) from 30 June 2012. This means that ULP may remain available well after 2012. However, in many areas, particularly in and around Sydney, straight unleaded petrol (ULP) is now difficult to find, so vehicle owners may wish to switch to E10.
Before using E10, vehicle owners must check if an ethanol blend is suitable for their vehicle – this information can be found in the owner’s manual, by contacting NRMA Motoring Advice (call 13 11 22) and on the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries website.
For cars that cannot use E10, premium-grade unleaded petrol without ethanol will continue to be available.
Our May 2010 blog post about unleaded petrol contained several comments that owners found their vehicle had much higher fuel consumption when using E10 compared with ULP. If your vehicle is in good condition you should not experience much more than the theoretical 3% increase in fuel consumption.
However, if you try E10 and experience an unusually high impact on fuel consumption, here are some possible causes and things you can do about them:
- Was there water in your fuel tank from earlier contaminated petrol? If so, the E10 will take the water into solution and your car may run roughly until the first tank of E10 is used up.
- Is your fuel filter clogged? Ethanol is a powerful solvent and may loosen residues in your fuel system. Try changing the fuel filter after the first couple of tanks of E10.
- Is your ignition system in good condition? A slightly misfiring spark plug may be exacerbated by E10 leading to a severe misfire and increase in fuel consumption. If you feel your vehicle is running roughly, have your vehicle serviced if it has not been done recently.
- Is there an engine check or warning light showing on your dash? Your engine management system and fuel injection system need to be in good condition. Modern vehicles are designed to monitor oxygen in the exhaust and should be able to adjust to E10. However a malfunctioning oxygen sensor or other component may mean that your vehicle is not achieving this. Have your vehicle serviced if it has not been done recently.
Does the extension of the phase-out date of ULP help you?