Many of us have experienced this one time or another: you are running late for an appointment, the low fuel light illuminates your dashboard, and realize that your tank is running empty. For some, the panic and anxiety feeling might accompany them, while others take it as a challenge to tempt fate.
Along with the fact that one can become stranded on the side of the road, surrounded by speeding cars, running your vehicle on low to empty fuel could push it to its breaking points that may lead to high damage and repair fees that might cost you an arm and a leg.
So why starving your car with low fuel could empty your wallet? How far can your car run on an empty tank? How can you reduce your fuel consumption?
In this article, you will find the answers to those questions and more.
Driving When Your Low Fuel Light Is On, Why Is It A Bad Idea?
Well, as a start it is a bad idea to drive when you're low on gas. Experts advise not to have fuel less than ¼ full in your tank, and here are a couple of reasons for that saying:
So imagine this: you are going into a tunnel that is normally a busy one, your car runs out of gas and stops suddenly. How inconvenient that would be? You will be lost between calling for help and walking to the nearest gas station, not to mention the angry drivers who would give you a hard time which makes things even worse. In other words, doing so might leave you stranded in the middle of the road. Such sudden stops can be dangerous for you and for your passengers. When such a thing happens, try safely to pull to the side of the road and wait inside your car for help.
If you ignore that warning call and keep driving, all the dirt and dust gathered at the bottom of your tank can reach up to your fuel filter and ruin it time after time. Your vehicle is designed to operate and run on fuel, and when ignoring it, it might cause damage to your vehicle's critical operating parts as well as a decrease in your vehicle lifespan. And that is another important reason why you shouldn't drive on an empty tank.
How Far Can You Drive When Low Fuel Light Is On?
One of the most common questions that we keep asking ourselves is how far can I drive after that low fuel warning light comes on. If you want to play that game, you may probably end up confused and unprepared on the side of the road.
Many car manufacturers send the low fuel warning signal to drivers when there is only enough fuel to make it somewhere for an average between 50 kilometers to 100 kilometers. Check out your owner’s manual to get the exact range for your car range.
Recently, most modern cars provide a distance calculation of exactly how many kilometers you can drive until you completely run out of gas. However, keep in mind that these kilometers estimates are just estimates! Being stranded in traffic, accelerating and driving at high speeds, climbing a steep hill, carrying a bicycle rack, and more can impact the kilometers dramatically.
For that, the least obstacles you find and the better driving mentality you own, the more fuel consumption you get.
So, How To Consume Less To Avoid Running Out Of Fuel?
Everyone likes to save a couple of bucks whenever possible, and who doesn’t! So did you know that driving efficiently can save you hundreds of fueling bucks each year as it helps in preventing wear & tear on your car!
By following our simple tips and tricks and by adopting fuel-efficient driving techniques, you will be able to reduce your fuel consumption and spendings significantly. Here are our top 10 tips to do so.
1. Plan Your Journey:
No one likes waiting in traffic anyways, especially during rush hours. Try to plan your journey ahead in order to avoid busy sections of the road so that you won't end up taking a wrong turn and get lost, and eventually burning more fuel.
Make sure to avoid several stops. Make your trip one round so that you won't start your engine many times and get it cool down, a cold engine will consume double the fuel amount than a warm one will. So always try to make your journey stress-free and less costly.
2. Try To Carry Less:
If you have extra things you don't need in your trunk or any other place in your car, get rid of them. You should know that the heavier your car is, the more fuel it needs to move.
So make sure you throw out all unnecessary things such as sporting equipment, magazines, documents, toys, and even garbage to lighten your trip and keep your fuel consumption as high as possible.
3. Check Your Car Tires Pressure:
Ignoring tire checks on a regular basis can affect your safety and your wallet at the same time.
A tire that is under-inflated can cause accidents especially if your steering stops being responsive as it should be, they also can be costly as they can consume more fuel.
On the other hand, a tire that is over-inflated can also be dangerous as it decreases traction and causes the tread to wear more quickly in the center.
So before you begin your trip, do a quick check on your tires and make sure the pressure is as recommended and needed.
4. Make Sure Your Gas Cap Is On Tight:
Don't you always feel shocked about how quickly your tank gets empty, and expect you still have some fuel but you actually don't? Well, a great amount of fuel gets lost every year because of evaporation.
The main reason behind that is leaving the gas cap loose. So make sure your cap is tight, and it will keep all the fuel you paid for.
5. Avoid Keeping Your Engine Running When Not Needed:
Don't leave your engine running when you don't have to. Turn it off when you’re stopping for more than 60 seconds, except when in traffic. An average 3-liter engine wastes about 300 milliliters of fuel (over 1 cup) for every 10 minutes it idles.
So if you know that you will spend some time waiting for your partner to grab something "quickly" from a shop, turn off your engine, and remember restarting your engine can burn less fuel than an idling engine.
6. Be Gentle When Using The Gas Pedal:
If you want to empty your tank quickly, go ahead and drive pedal to the metal way, as it will surely help. But if you want your fuel to last more kilometers; which we all do, be gentle when using the accelerator.
Make sure to use the pedal smoothly until you reach the speed you want, and if you want to keep that speed, use the cruise control system (if your car has it). There is no need to mention that driving too fast consumes more fuel, so try to stick to the speed limits.
A note to mention here, don't stomp on the brakes too often unless you really need to. Strongly decelerating means you'll need to quicken again to reach the cruising speed.
7. AC Is Not Always Necessary:
We all love the cool breeze that comes from the air conditioner, but when you are running on empty, you will need to increase your fuel economy in any possible way.
Turning your car air conditioning for a long time definitely increases fuel consumption, especially when driving in heavy traffic. But when you drive steadily at higher speed, fuel consumption won't be at high wastage.
8. Close Your Windows:
Keeping your windows down while driving creates more drag and wind resistance for your car. It is okay to open your window if you're driving less than 60 km/h. But if you go on higher speeds, close your windows to avoid the drag effect that increases your fuel consumption.
9. Replace Dirty Filters:
If your car filters are dirty, your car will work a lot harder than it should be, and therefore will burn more fuel. So make changing your filters a periodic habit. A clean filter increases your engine performance and helps you save money.
10. Don't Skip Your Routine Checks & Maintenances:
Don’t miss the routine periodic checks for your car. Get your car serviced regularly. If you do that, the engine and other mechanical parts will work in a productive manner for quite a while, saving you a good deal on fuel.