How Far Can You Really Drive on Empty
If You’ve ever had the “E” light come on and not had a gas station nearby – or time to stop and get gas – you’ve probably wondered just how far you can go before your car comes to a chugging stop. ( Or maybe, like Kramer, you want to know how far you can drive your friend’s car for free.)
First, a disclaimer
As AAA notes: Running a vehicle extremely low on fuel may cause sediment at the bottom of the tank to clog the fuel pump pickup, the fuel filter or even the fuel injectors. In addition, not maintaining a minimum level of fuel could cause the electric fuel pump inside the tank to overheat.
Additionally, running out of gas can put you and your passengers in jeopardy if your vehicle suddenly becomes immobilized on the road.
But , if you really want to know how far you can push the needle, or if your vehicle has a y’Miles to Empty, display and you want to know how accurate it is, there is a simple test you can do to gain more insight.
- Check your owner’s manual in the specifications section and see what your tank’s fuel capacity is.
- As soon as your low-fuel light comes on, stop and fill up your tank. Make a note of how much gas you put in.
- Time for a little math. Take your fuel capacity and subtract the amount of gas you put in. If your fuel capacity is 15 gallons and you put in 13 gallons, that means you had 2 gallons left in the tank when your light came on. (You should test this a few times to get an accurate average of your fuel reserve).
- Now do a final calculation. If you get an average of 23 miles per gallon, multiply that by your average fuel reserve 92 gallons) and theoretically could go 46 miles when your light comer
Keep in mind that your miles per gallon is affected by your current tire pressure, the weight in your car, and driving conditions, so this isn’t an absolute number. Use this as a reference so you have a little peace of mind when searching for a gas station.
It always takes less time to stop and get gas than it does to deal with your car when it runs out of gas, so for the sake of your safety and your vehicle, we don’t recommend driving on E.
Leave driving on fumes to Cosmo Kramer.