With gas prices rising and no end in sight, many of our customers are trying to maximize their fuel efficiency— and many of us are running the tank as low as possible before refueling. At times like these, it’s important to remember that driving your vehicle when the low-fuel light is on can be dangerous. If gasoline levels dip too low, it can damage your engine or even lead to a crash.
That said, if you’re in a pinch and you need a little time to find a gas station, how many miles do you really have once that light comes on?
Is the tank really empty when the light comes on?
The short answer is, no. Automobile manufacturers don’t usually disclose how far their engines can go after the low-fuel warning light kicks on or the fuel gauge dips past “E”. But, from those who’ve dared to venture into this territory, we know that most manufacturers build in a small reserve past the gas light sensor. There’s typically about a gallon (3.8 liters) of fuel beyond the “empty” line. They know that people procrastinate refilling their tanks, and running out of fuel can leave you stranded or cause a crash on the road, and can also damage expensive auto parts.
How far can I drive?
The short answer to this question is: don’t test the limits. You can check your owner’s manual to better understand how large the fuel reserves are in an emergency but fuel shortages are best avoided, whenever possible.
If you’re constantly riding your low-fuel light to empty, your engine might need a tune-up. At V&F, we strive to provide our customers with a well-rounded knowledge of all things automotive. Since 1988, our family-owned and operated service center has been providing top-quality auto repair services to Agawam, Feeding Hills, Southwick, West Springfield and the surrounding Massachusetts communities. Call us at (413)314-2280 or schedule an appointment online.
This article was originally published in 2020 and has been updated based on current events.