I went to fill up my car with petrol the other day. Doing this a year ago used to cost around $40, now it costs just over $50 on average. That aside, I pulled up to the petrol bowser, got out the car and looked at the bowser and realised that the only unleaded type fuel I could get was what’s called Plus ULP, in other words, unleaded fuel with 10% extra ethanol.
I stood there for a while scratching my head and looking around to see what other options I had. It was 3c a litre cheaper than the unleaded they were still offering at one bowser and I was tempted but thought I would rather spend 3c a litre extra and get something I know won’t damage the car.
I don’t know if the 10% ethanol thing is okay for my car, or what benefits – or not – it offers. So I got back in the car and moved to a bowser where I could get the plain ordinary unleaded fuel.
I just found the leaflet the petrol company – United – put out about this fuel and of course it’s all good news but being Miss Cynical I decided to do some more research.
This is what the trusty RAA (our local road service authority) say on their website about ethanol in fuel:
‘Ethanol has a lower energy content than petrol, the 1998 Australian field trial
by Apace Research observed a fuel consumption increase of up to 2.8% with E10.
Because of this higher fuel consumption there are fewer kilometres per tank
of fuel, so ethanol blended fuels will cost motorists more.’
So it would probably end up costing the same as normal unleaded fuel anyway.
The rest of the article does talk about some environmental benefits, but those aside, there is a chance of engine corrosion,
‘Most metal components in fuel systems will corrode or rust in the presence of
water. Ethanol increases petrol’s ability to absorb water without separating and
Ethanol blended petrol can therefore ‘hold’ more water and carry this through
the engine. The greater the concentration of ethanol the greater the ability to
It goes onto say that studies have shown that everyday use will not result in corrosion, but I’m not convinced.
This report on the Web Wombat site says that maybe up to 30% of cars will not benefit from using ethanol including late model cars
For the time being I am going to stick with my non-ethanol unleaded fuel.