Never Let Your Tank get Below Half
It’s More than Just Running Out of Gas
Your dashboard warning lights are there for a reason. You don’t ignore a check engine light, and you don’t ignore an ABS or traction control light. You make sure to remedy the problem, and you take steps to ensure they don’t come on. But most people seem to let their fuel light come on without the proper steps beforehand to ensure it doesn’t come on.
It’s disappointing and surprising to know that based on a survey done in 2015, about 827,000 drivers experience a break down every year because they deliberately choose to ignore their fuel warning light. Apparently, about 25% of the drivers surveyed believed they could go for another 40 miles when the warning light shows up. Even worse, two million of them said they let the light stay on indefinitely until they are able to find a gas station that sells cheaper fuel. And then they run out of fuel; but they didn’t have to. If only they heeded the warning light.
But there are other reasons that you shouldn’t let your tank drop below half. This is especially true in the winter.
Why drivers shouldn’t ignore their fuel warning light
Aside from the obvious consequence that fuel might run out, there are a few other reasons.
The fuel gauge isn’t an exact instrument; it’s only meant as a guide to approximate how much fuel you still have. It typically relies on a float (similar to what is found in the back of your toilet) to measure the level of fuel, and then relays the data to your gauge. Which means it can show different readings when you’re on a flat area and when you’re on an inclined or sloping surface.
The amount of miles left after the warning light shows is different for each car. It doesn’t just depend on the type and brand of the vehicle. It is also affected by driving behavior, road conditions, traffic conditions and sometimes even the weather.
Running on low fuel can also cause damage your engine. First, the bottom part of your tank is where sediments from oil settle. If the fuel you’re using is coming from this part of your tank, it is possible that some of the sediments will flow with the fuel. And if your filters aren’t in good condition, the sediments can cause blockage in your pumps, which can in turn cause havoc to your engine. Second, your fuel also functions as a coolant for your pump motor. When your fuel level drops, the pump begins to suck in air, heating it up and causing it to malfunction. In either case, the cost of repairing your engine will likely be way more expensive than filling up your tank.
If your car breaks down, it can potentially turn into a life-threatening situation. When your engine stops running, your car stops functioning, and its safety features stop working too. So if you get stuck in the middle of a busy road and a vehicle crashes into you, your airbags might not deploy. And this will make you prone to serious injury or even death. You have to think about the weather too. What if it’s snowing? You won’t be able to get out of your car for help. Neither can you stay inside for too long because you can’t turn the heater on to warm you up. It’s the same in extremely hot weather too. While you have the option to walk some distance to find a gas station, it might be dangerous especially if you’re in a deserted or unfamiliar area. But you can’t stay in the car too because you won’t be able to turn on the air conditioner on to keep you comfortable.
But what about keeping the tank topped off? It seems that in the winter there are some issues that you have to address. When your tank is full, or near full, there is less room for air. As the tank empties, the space is filled with air. As the temperature outside fluctuates, this can cause condensation inside the tank. The result could be that you suck water into the engine. It’s advisable that you don’t let your tank drop below half in the cooler months of the year.
Don’t wait for your warning light to turn on
To avoid the unnecessary inconvenience that running out of fuel might cause, we suggest going beyond what the typical recommendation for how much gas you should maintain. Instead of staying above a quarter of your tank, we suggest not going below half of your tank. This way, the odds of breaking down becomes extremely unlikely. And there won’t be a need to conserve on fuel as much — you can continue to travel comfortably with your heater or AC on (depending on the weather) until you reach your destination, or at least the nearest gas station.
Of course, if you are involved in an accident, whether with a deer, a tree, or another vehicle, we will restore your vehicle to the full factory safety specifications. Give us a call at 406-259-6328 to learn more about why we are the best auto body repair shop in Billings.