How Far Can I Drive With My Fuel Light On

Maybe it’s the cost, or maybe it’s the hassle. Or maybe you just keep forgetting to get gas. Whatever your concerns, your car’s gas light has come on, and now you’re wondering how far you can drive before stopping for fuel. The truth is that distance depends on several factors, and driving your car on empty comes with risks.

How Far Can I Still Drive?

The fuel light will come on when your car reaches fuel reserve levels which manufacturers typically set to be around 10-15% of your tank’s capacity. Many modern vehicles display the driveable range based on your current fuel levels. Your car’s computer divides the amount of fuel in the tank by your estimated fuel consumption. Be aware that this is just an estimate. Your actual fuel consumption is affected by rapid braking and acceleration, idling at traffic lights, and other factors.

Safety Risk

The risk of being stranded on the side of the road is the most obvious risk of driving on empty. More than just an inconvenience, this can be a significant safety risk. If your vehicle ever suddenly stops running, steer as far from traffic as you can safely go. Be careful not to stand near traffic while waiting for help.

Damage to Fuel Pump

Another factor to consider when driving on empty is that you risk costly damage to your vehicle. As the fuel tank runs dry, any sediment in the tank could much more easily clog your car’s fuel filter or become lodged in your car’s fuel pump. The gasoline flowing through your fuel pump also serves as a lubricant. If you continually drive your vehicle with low fuel levels, it won’t be long before your fuel pump needs replacing.

Damage to Catalytic Converter

Some experts say that driving on empty could damage your car’s catalytic converter. The catalytic converter treats your car’s exhaust, breaking down harmful substances into water vapor and carbon dioxide. Precious metals inside the catalytic converter make it expensive to replace.

While it can be tempting to see how far you can make it before getting gas, it’s best to play it safe and avoid the risks. Experts recommended keeping at least a quarter tank in your car to prevent any of these unnecessary issues.

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