Is it dangerous to drive my car with empty light on?

Filling up at the gas station is one of the dullest aspects of car ownership, but we all have to do it. How many times have you told yourself “I’ll get gas tomorrow” or how many miles have you driven with the empty light on and how many times have you rolled into a gas station literally on fumes?

A couple of weeks ago I did one of those “I’ll get gas tomorrow” maneuvers only to get in the car and completely forget to stop and get gas the next day, despite having the empty light on. I was on the highway, ten miles from the nearest gas station, and completely out of gas. I ended up being an hour late to where I was headed as a result of having to wait for someone to bring me a couple of gallons of gas, then having to limp over to the nearest gas station which was pretty far off the nearest exit, and then getting back on with my journey.

Stopping for gas is certainly an inconvenience. I’ve even heard of some people even making a game of it. Just how far can I make it before I have to fill up?

You might think running out of gas on the side of the road is the worst thing that can happen,however, you are incorrect.

What the Gas Light Really Means

When you are driving and the empty light goes on, your car is telling you that your fuel has reached the reserve level. Carmakers usually set the reserve level at 10 to 15 percent of your tank’s total capacity. Knowing that percentage will allow you to calculate how many miles until empty you actually have. Some newer cars calculate it for you, too. But having a reserve level does not mean you have an extra tank of gas as the word “reserve” would presume. There is no speical reserve tank that kicks in when the main tank runs out.

Safety of your car and passengers

Ever wonder what happens to your car when the gas runs out? Years ago car makers switched to an in-tank fuel pump instead of the older engine-driven style fuel pump. The fuel pump in your gas tank sends the fuel from the tank to the engine. This pump relies on gas in your tank to stay cool and lubricated. When there is not enough gas in your tank, you run the risk of overheating your fuel pump. Once that happens, you have a much bigger problem and an even bigger bill to pay. The cost to replace an in tank fuel pump is pretty expensive because the technician has to drop the tank out of the car, swap the part out and then put everything back together. I have had to replace te fuel pump in my car once and it was very expensive.

If you run out of gas, and your engine stalls, your cars systems shut down such as power steering and power brakes. When stranded on the side of the road, you are at a uch higher rate of being involved in a collsion, or causing a collision around you. This applies to both side streets and highways. Even if you coast onto the side of the freeway or road, some cars may not see you pull over until it’s too late to slow down.

Taking time to fill up at the pumpwhen the empty light comes on can be time-consuming and in some instances, can cause you to go out of your way. However, taking 10 minutes at the gas station can save you a bigger headache down the road.

With gas prices at record low prices, now is the time to take advantage and save both your car and a few bucks!

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