Driving around with the low fuel light on is one of those things that we know we shouldn’t do but still let happen from time to time.
Whatever the price of gas, it can be tough for some drivers to simply fill up the tank. But waiting until your gas tank is almost empty before a fill-up could end up costing you more than you think.
Since 2015 survey found that every year, hundreds of thousands of drivers ignore their car’s warning light, causing them to run out of gas and break down.
On top of that, 25% of drivers believed they can make it another 40 miles once the light turns on, and even more drivers said they almost always drive with the light permanently on, usually hoping to find cheaper gas.
Here’s the problem: Most drivers don’t actually know how far they’ll make it after the warning light turns on. And on top of that, there’s more at stake than many people realize when you let your gas tank run that low.
Reasons not to drive on an empty tank of fuel
You don’t have as much fuel left as you think
According to the figures, we don’t take the engine warning light seriously enough. Men on average believe that when the warning light comes on, they can drive for at least another 31 miles, while women on average think they have another 26 miles left. Around a quarter of all drivers thought they could go another 40 miles when the warning light was on.
You risk serious damage to your car
Running out of fuel can lead to a lot more than a call to the AA: it can actually damage your car. For instance, if you run out of petrol, your fuel pump can suck in the dirt on the bottom of the tank, clogging it and forcing a costly replacement.
Most people don’t realise it’s a problem
The main issue seems to be knowledge and experience, with two thirds of the motorists running out of petrol being under the age of 35. Some even believe information about running out of fuel should be included in the driving test.
Fuel gauges are not exact
The amount of fuel your gauge is telling you may not be what you have: fuel gauges are still measured by a float, which can change depending on whether or not you’re on a hill, for instance.
Modern cars are actually worse at dealing with it
Modern cars are more sensitive, and have a much shorter tolerance for issues. This has led to great developments in motoring, but also makes them more likely to be damaged by running out of fuel.
“Freewheeling” doesn’t work
Freewheeling, the habit some drivers have of letting the car coast out of gear to save fuel, actually doesn’t help. Modern cars actually use more petrol up out of gear than they do in gear, as long as the accelerator isn’t being touched.
Some “tips” actually don’t help
Turning off the car’s engine in a jam will save you fuel… so long as you leave it off for at least a minute. Any shorter than that, and the car will actually use up more fuel to restart then it would otherwise.
It can hurt your insurance
Having to call out roadside services can be rough, especially for problems that could have been prevented. These call outs are all taken into account when your premiums are due to be renewed.