Over a quarter of drivers (27%) are unsure over the compatibility of their vehicle with E10 petrol, RAC research has found.

The study of 1,450 drivers also revealed 24% had not realised E10 was going to become the new “standard grade of unleaded petrol”. The fuel is arriving at forecourts across the UK this month – with the exception of Northern Ireland, where it will be introduced in 2022 – and now, drivers are being urged to check their vehicle’s compatibility with E10 petrol through the government’s free online checker.

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26% of those surveyed said they had already used the checker to ascertain whether the E10 would be suitable for their vehicles, while 15% said they had used other sources to check.

Anyone who does have an incompatible vehicle will need to find E5 super unleaded, which will be more expensive – it is estimated that there will be as many as 600,000 such vehicles.

59% of the respondents who had an incompatible vehicle said their biggest concern was the cost of having to use super unleaded – this will be an extra 12p per litre.

53% have said they are concerned about the difficulties of sourcing E5 super unleaded, while 20% are also worried of accidentally filling up with the wrong type of petrol.

E10 has been introduced to help reduce the emission of carbon dioxide – it contains up to 10% bioethanol, compared to E5’s 5%. The changeover is hoped to lower emissions by 750,000 tonnes each year.

While all vehicles that have been sold in the UK from 2011 are compatible, putting the fuel in an incompatible vehicle could lead to damaged seals, plastics and metals, due to the corrosive properties of bioethanol.

RAC head of policy Nicholas Lyes said: “E10 petrol has already started appearing on forecourts to replace the old E5 blend, and that process will continue at pace in the coming weeks.”

“But while the vast majority of drivers of petrol cars aren’t affected, a sizeable minority will be and the only way to be sure is to use the official online checker. Those that discover their cars aren’t compatible will unfortunately need to seek out and pay for a hefty premium for E5 super unleaded fuel instead. The cost of doing this could quickly add up for people who need to use their cars regularly, something our research shows all too plainly.”

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