How Far You Can Actually Drive on ‘Empty’ Once the Gas Light Comes On

When it comes to that fuel light glowing on our dashboards, some of us like to live life on the edge. Yeah, you know who you are – you keep driving. On the way to your destination you think, “I can make it, I can make it! Just 5 more miles. I’ll just stop on the way home,” and maybe utter some sort of prayer under your breath. Others among us go into full blown panic mode, shaming ourselves for letting the needle drop so far below a quarter tank, and way down into “E” territory. Then there are the elite crowd whose gas needles have never visited the region below the half-tank line. But for the daredevils out there whose gas tanks wait with baited breath as you chance to do the unthinkable again, think twice. It’s really not good for you or your car.

The folks over at did us all a solid and gathered the details on how many miles you can drive on empty before running completely out. But who wants to be like Fred Flintstone? The informative chart sheds light on what may have been guesswork, but also serves as a warning about driving with a limited gas tank. Some of the ranges for are too wide to even want to take a chance: Ford Fusions have a 35-80 mile window after the light comes on.

Here are several reasons to try to avoid running on fumes:

1. You’ll get stranded.

This is probably the most obvious reason to avoid a low or empty tank. Imagine what you would do if you are stuck in a traffic jam, or driving along a road with limited access to a gas station and then the car cuts off. The awfulness of the situation is multiplied if you have young kids, there’s snow on the road, or you’re experiencing something similar to that scene in Bridesmaids after they got food poisoning. There are many different bad scenarios that could take place. Sure you could call someone to rescue you or walk for gas and be back on the road in no time, but why risk it? Running out of gas isn’t fun for anyone.

2. It makes your fuel pump work harder.

If you’re constantly driving on empty, you are running the risk of your fuel pump going out sooner than later. Depending on the make and model of your car, that repair could cost you a few hundred dollars. Do you really want that type of problem when prevention will cost you about $20?

3. Sediment and grime can build up in the gas tank.

The debris that gets built up inside of your fuel tank can be released into your fuel system, triggering all sorts of problems with your drive train. Lines can get clogged, or according to YourMechanic, you can blow your catalytic converter. Those repairs can run up into the thousands depending on your vehicle. Yikes!

With all that being said, it is best to spend a few extra dollars at the pump to make sure you don’t go below the quarter tank line. There are different ways you can stretch your gas dollars, which is way better than winding up with expensive repairs or no vehicle at all. How do you handle a low gas situation? Share with us in the comments!