How Far Can You Go With Low Fuel?

We’ve all been there. We’re driving down the road and we suddenly glance at our fuel gauge to see the needle pointing ominously to “E.” Perhaps our vehicle has a light that comes on or an annoying tone. Either way, on a busy day it is easy to neglect to stop for a fill-up. We think, “Oh, it can wait. I can go another 50 miles, easy”. Maybe yes, maybe no. The game of luck could either get you to your destination and then to a gas station or it could end up costing you a lot of money. Running out of gas is not a fun situation. You may have to walk to a gas station and back again with fuel. To prevent this, a lot of cars have a low fuel warning light on the dash. This light is an extra signal to remind you to fill up your tank as soon as possible. However, the real question is, how far can you go with low fuel?

What Does The Low Fuel Light Mean?

This light has one function: to warn drivers of low fuel. As many seasoned drivers know, then the light comes on, it is more a polite suggestion to get gas than a forceful command. There is still some fuel in the tank, but not much. The number of miles you can go on a low tank of fuel will vary between different cars. For example, a 2015 Toyota Camry reserves about 2.6 gallons of gas after the light goes on, giving you between 65 and 91 miles to get gas. The 2015 Kia Optima, however, gives you 30 miles to find the gas station. However, just because you have an extra 30-91 miles, that doesn’t mean you should risk it, especially if there is a gas station nearby. Running out of fuel in the middle of a busy intersection is no fun. Additionally, the way you drive also influences how quickly your vehicle burns through fuel, so you may get away with it one time, but not the next. Plus, running on empty is an easy way to damage your car—that’s something nobody wants to risk.

How much gas should you keep in your tank?

While it is safe to drive for a short amount of time, it is not good to drive with the light on for an extended period of time. The fuel lubricates and cools the fuel pump. Without enough of it, a lack of lubrication will shorten the lifespan of the pump. Your pump is submerged in the fuel. Letting it work out in the open air can cause it to overheat. Replacing the fuel pump can be expensive, so you should aim to keep your tank at least a quarter full. At a quarter tank, your pump will still be mostly submerged even if the liquid gets sloshed around while making a turn.

The best advice? If a gas station is an extra pit stop away, don’t let your laziness get in the way of taking care of your vehicle.

If your fuel warning light is on when you tank is full or you have a problem with your fuel pump, call the Auto Clinic of Stuart.  We will find the cause of your vehicle’s problems and get you on the road in no time!