Should You Drive Far with the Fuel Light On?

By Product Expert | Posted in FAQ, Tips & Tricks on Tuesday, December 31st, 2019 at 4:06 pm
Running on Empty text with a fuel gauge showing empty

How Far Can You Drive When the Fuel Gauge is on Empty?

You have probably been there. It happens to the best of us. You’re driving along and having a splendid day when all of a sudden, your fuel light appears on your instrument panel. You know you passed a gas station a minute ago. Are you doomed to run out of gas on the side of the road and get stranded? Not necessarily, although the situation still isn’t ideal. Just how far can you drive when the fuel gauge is on empty? Continue reading for more details. 

See how to change your oil at home!

How soon after your fuel light goes on should you get gas?

Once your fuel light is on and/or your fuel gauge can’t point any farther down, you need to refuel as soon as possible. Yes, there is a safety net of about 30-45 miles or so for a vehicle in general when the fuel gauge is pointing to empty, but you cannot count on that. Plus, the range of how far you can drive on empty varies from vehicle to vehicle, and even model year to model year. Compact cars will generally get you farther than pickup trucks or full-size SUVs, and newer models tend to be more efficient than their older counterparts. 

closeup of person filling car with gas
closeup of fuel gauge on empty

What are some bad driving habits you should avoid?

Is it bad for the car to drive on empty?

Yes, it can be bad for your vehicle if you drive it while it is on empty. In this instance, the fuel pump is pulling from whatever it can possibly get from the fuel tank, and since sediment material can settle at the bottom of the tank, that means the pump could be pulling damaging sediment and it could wind up giving you engine damage. That repair will cost you a lot more time and money than just refueling at the right time. 

Ultimately, you don’t want to chance it once your gauge reads empty. Refuel as soon as you see the next gas station. 

Should you have a mechanic inspect a car you’re test driving?

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