What to Do If Your Car Runs Out of Gas?
August 24th, 2020 by Fix Auto USA
Chances are, it’s happened to you: You ran out of gas on the highway. If not, count yourself fortunate, because running out of gas is no fun. And, if it happens late at night or an isolated location, it can put you and your loved ones in harm’s way.
What happens when your car runs out of gas, and why do drivers even get themselves in this situation? Sometimes it’s just good old-fashioned procrastination. It is often because they are stretching their very last drops of gas to reach home before rush hour hits. Other drivers are caught by surprise, if not panic, because they weren’t monitoring their car’s fuel level.
What to do if your car runs out of gas? If the unthinkable happens to you, here are 6 tips to help you manage the situation:
1. Get oriented
Running out of gas can be a very stressful experience. If you still have a little gas left in the tank but not much breathing room, pull over to the shoulder or to a safe location, take a deep breath, and then use your phone to find out where the closest gas station is. Activate your hazard light and your emergency brake.
2. Reduce speed
When the low fuel sign is activated, it doesn’t mean you have run out of gas but soon you will. If you have a little gas left in your tank and the gas station isn’t far away, your first impulse might be to hit the accelerator to try to get to the gas station faster. Wrong move! Conserve your last drops of gas by reducing your speed.
3. A/C off
If you are running out of gas, turn your air conditioner off. This will give your alternator a break, conserve fuel, and it might even give you enough time to get to a gas station before you run dry.
4. Silence is golden!
Turn off your stereo and any other electrical devices for the same reason as #3.
5. Windows up
Keep your windows up to reduce wind resistance on your vehicle. And yes, that means you will have your air conditioning off and your windows up brief period of time. If you have ever run out of gas before, you know that a little sweating is more than worth it if it means you get to the gas station before your car dies.
6. Coast downhill
If you happen to find a downhill stretch, take it. Coasting downhill uses less gas, and it could make the difference between arriving at your destination and running out of gas.
What happens when your car runs out of gas is pretty well understood. Driving when you are low on fuel or on empty could cause serious damage to your engine, depending on its age. Driving on empty may lead to mechanical malfunction, especially with older cars, as it puts the engine under unnecessary strain; most modern engines, however, are built to withstand running dry.
How to avoid running out of fuel in the future
What to do if your car runs out of gas is one thing, but wouldn’t it be much better if you could avoid this unpleasant scenario altogether? Most people learn from their mistakes. They ran out of gas on highway once and they are not going to let that happen again. With that said, here are some specific steps you can take to help ensure you don’t run out of gas tomorrow:
1. Don’t let your gas tank get below ¼ full
Keeping your tank at least a quarter full is a great rule of thumb because it gives you extra breathing room. If you let your gas tank get too low, it affects your gas mileage, and that means more trips to the pump, so you end up paying more. Instead of waiting for the low fuel sign to become activated, make it a point always to keep your tank at least ¼ full. Driving with a low fuel sign on is bad for your car, for your personal safety, and for your bank account.
2. Drive more conservatively
Aggressive driving not only wastes gas and makes it more likely that you’ll run out of gas, but it can also lead to road rage. There’s no better way to conserve your gas than to be a conservative and courteous driver.
3. Be obsessive about keeping your tires properly inflated
Driving with underinflated tires not only increases your risk of a blowout or accident, but it also reduces your fuel efficiency. Start by consulting your vehicle owner’s manual to see the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure for your car. Make sure to check your tire pressure whenever you fill up gas, and if need be, add some air.
Don’t be in a hurry – next time, before you head out to work or take the family out for dinner, check your gas level. If you’re running low, fill ‘er up! Now that you know what to do if your car runs out of gas, please share your new knowledge with your friends and family.
This blog post was contributed by Fix Auto Tacoma South, a leading industry expert and collision repair shop servicing Pierce County.
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