Why You Shouldn’t Drive On Empty

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Across the country, drivers have been affected by the higher gas prices over the last few months. Even when that low fuel light comes on, it can be tempting to stretch your fuel supply out as long as possible, continuing to drive until your car is running on fumes. Did you know that consistently driving on empty can damage your vehicle?

About The Low Fuel Light

You may be wondering what exactly that light means. How much fuel do you actually have left in the tank? The answer depends on the model of your vehicle, but most low fuel lights are set to come on when a gas tank reaches about 10–15% of its capacity. The actual distance you can still drive at that point depends on even more factors such as the size of your fuel tank, speed, and driving conditions. While many modern cars can display a driving range, that number is just an estimate based on several assumptions, so don’t rely on it too heavily.

Risk Of Being Stranded

No one wants to be stuck on the side of the road, waiting for roadside assistance or walking to a gas station. Besides being a major inconvenience, this is also a significant safety concern. According to recent research, around 12 percent of highway deaths are due to emergency shoulder stops. If you ever have to stop on a highway, pull your vehicle as far away from traffic as safely possible, and be careful to avoid standing near oncoming traffic.

Risk Of Expensive Repairs

Regularly driving your vehicle with low fuel increases your chances of needing costly repairs. If there is any debris in your fuel, it will settle out in the bottom of your tank. As your car consumes the gasoline, your chance of that debris being sucked into your fuel pump or clogging your filter increases proportionately. Gasoline also keeps the fuel pump cooled, so running low could cause the pump to overheat and burn out. Driving until your car stalls out could also potentially damage your catalytic converter, one of your vehicle’s most expensive parts.

While it may seem like a cost-efficient solution to run your car on empty, the results of that decision can be both costly and dangerous. To avoid those risks, keep at least a quarter tank of fuel at all times.

Photo by olando_o from Getty Images via Canva Pro

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