Warning: Driving your vehicle on low fuel or an empty tank can damage your ride or even lead to a crash.
The fuel gauge in your car or truck is lying to you.
Automobile manufacturers build in about a gallon (3.8 litres) of reserve fuel beyond the “empty” line. They also warn about low fuel long before a vehicle runs out, since they know that people procrastinate — especially when it comes to forking over money.
But those manufacturers are looking out for drivers: Running out of fuel can leave you stranded or cause a crash on the road, and can also damage expensive auto parts.
Ed Mosher is a retired automotive repair specialist and engine performance expert — and the father of a co-author of this story. “The really important thing, especially with newer cars, is that they have an electric fuel pump, and fuel is used to cool that pump as it works,” he told Business Insider. “So if the weather is hot and you run low on fuel, you risk burning out a fuel pump real quick.”
Cold weather can also be problematic if your fuel runs low.
“The air inside the gas tank can form condensation, and that could foul the fuel with moisture,” said Mosher. “This can cause fuel injector-firing problems, ice crystals around the fuel pump, and driveability problems. It happens rarely, thanks to additives in the fuel that basically keep it from freezing. But it’s a risk.”
Either way, replacing a fuel pump can cost about $US1,000 to $US2,000, he said.
Automobile manufacturers rarely disclose how far their makes and models can go when the low-fuel warning light kicks on or the fuel gauge dips past “E”. Nevertheless, enough people have risked damage and accidents to find out. The website TankOnEmpty.com collects data and stories from drivers in an attempt to answer those questions, according to Digital Journal.
Here are the reported averages from the site’s users on how far the bestselling cars and trucks of 2016 can drive after the “low fuel” light turns on:
Of course, the way the site collects data isn’t ironclad, since anyone can contribute and skew results — intentionally or unintentionally. Also, people who brake frequently and accelerate rapidly burn a lot more fuel than someone who uses cruise control and drives within the speed limit.
But given the lack of scientific studies out there, this is some of the only data available — and it covers dozens of other makes and models.
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