Running your car on empty is a dangerous gamble — it’s tough to imagine a worse situation than breaking down on a 70-mph highway or twisty back road. So it’s helpful to know exactly how many miles your car can travel once that low-fuel warning light turns on.
You might be tempted to trust the miles-to-empty display that comes standard in many car dashboards these days. But the experts at car repair service YourMechanic say you can’t rely on that number alone: It’s based on your average gas mileage over time, but you’re not always going to be in average driving conditions. For example: If you normally drive on the highway but suddenly end up in gridlock traffic, your miles-to-empty gauge won’t be accurate.
Luckily, YourMechanic has assembled a handy chart for the 50 most popular cars in America, showing how many miles you can actually drive on empty. There’s a pretty surprising range of possibilities: Some models can get you about 100 miles, while others will only take you 30.
By the way: Habitually running on empty is really bad for your car. Debris and contaminants tend to settle at the bottom of the fuel tank, and constantly driving with a low level of fuel means some of that debris can damage the fuel pump.
Read more about the risks of running on empty over at YourMechanic.