French Bio-Petrol - Care Needed

The French are now selling a new type of environmentally friendly petrol at their filling stations.

However, it does not suit all types of petrol engine, and if used inappropriately, may cause damage or breakdown.

The petrol, labelled 95-E10, is a mixture of "Euro 95" unleaded petrol, 90%, and ethanol, 10%.

It is suitable for new cars, but can damage older vehicles (around 2000 or earlier) according to motoring organisations.

They have said that car drivers preparing to travel to France should be aware of the situation. The French Government has said that the fuel is incompatible with 40% of the vehicles on its roads.

Ethanol in fuel tanks not designed to hold it is highly corrosive. It can give the tank an unwanted clean, or attack the metal because of the water it attracts, leading to leaks. It also attacks metal pipes and connectors.

Newer cars have plastic tanks and are not affected in this way.

The RAC recommends motorists with older cars to look out for the words 'bio' or 'E10' on the pump to guide them in making a choice of which fuel to use.

The petrol's introduction is the result of an EU directive (target-driven, as ever) stating that all petrol must include between five and ten percent of ethanol by 2013. The French Energy Ministry advises motorists with cars pre-2000 to continue using Euro 95 or Euro 98 petrol.

Approximately one third of cars currently in use in Britain which pre-date the year 2000.

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