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Fuel for ‘new cars’ only in French petrol stations

Environmentally friendly fuel could damage cars

British tourists holidaying abroad this summer should beware of a new “environmentally friendly” fuel on sale in French petrol stations that could damage their cars or even cause breakdowns.

The petrol called 95-E10 is a mixture of regular unleaded fuel and ethanol. It is only suitable for new cars and can damage vehicles registered before the year 2000. Ethanol is highly corrosive and wears away the metal fuel tanks common in cars registered before 2000, leading to leaks. Most new cars have plastic tanks and will not be affected by corrosion.

The biofuel sits alongside the commonly used and similarly named unleaded Euro 95 in many garages across France and while a public awareness campaign in the country has avoided confusion amongst the French, British holidaymakers will be unaware and could unwittingly pick the wrong pump. If motorists can confuse diesel and petrol at the pumps they could just as easily confuse ordinary unleaded with the 95-E10.

A spokeswoman for the RAC said: "There is some concern that some, particularly older vehicles, might have problems, particularly materials compatibility i.e. flexible hoses leaking.”Most newer cars should not experience any problems but owners, particularly of older vehicles, should check with the manufacturer for compatibility before using the fuel. "I would advise motorists to look for any signage, such as E10, or the letters 'bio' to guide them in making a choice of which fuel to use."