What to Do Before Running Out of Gas in Your Car
What you should do when your low-fuel waring light comes on in your car.
Almost a million people run out of gas every year. If you continue to push the needle past the empty line on your fuel gage, it's only a matter of time that you'll end up on the side of the road also.
So what should you do if you're about to run out of gas? The first thing to do is "not panic." Once your fuel light comes on you most likely have anywhere between 20 to 40 miles before your vehicle completely runs out of gas.
Although you have a few miles left to travel, you should take a few immediate steps before continuing to press forward. Especially if you're in the middle nowhere and no idea how far it is to the nearest gas station.
The first thing you want to do is to check your paperwork and see if your vehicle came with roadside assistance and if so what exactly is covered and not covered. If you're covered, put the information in your glove box, or better yet, your phone. If you need to use the service, use it. That's what they do and can save you a lot of frustration and aggravation if you ever run out of gas.
The best way to avoid this situation is to not let your vehicle get low on fuel. Make it a habit to fill up your vehicle whenever it gets to the halfway mark on the fuel gauge.
You should always make sure your tires are properly inflated, don't excessively accelerate from a dead stop, and keep in mind, if your vehicle is loaded down with passengers and cargo, it will not get the same fuel economy as one that isn't.
To clear up any misconceptions, here are six things the automotive experts at the Universal Technical Institute (UTI) and the American Automobile Association (AAA) say you should do when your low fuel light comes on before running out of gas:
Six Things to Do Before Running Out of Gas in Your Car
1) Figure out where you're at - Safely pull over to the side of the road and use your vehicle's navigation system or smart phone to locate the nearest gas station. There are many map apps and other apps to help locate gas stations and other important business establishments. The American Automobile Association (AAA) has a great app available.
2) Turn off the air conditioner - You should turn off the A/C as soon as possible. It relieves the engine of additional load which saves fuel. When the A/C system is running it puts an additional load on the alternator which in turn, uses more fuel to power the engine.
3) Roll up all of your windows - I know we just told you to turn off your air conditioner. The reason you close all your windows is to reduce wind resistance and drag. If you're going to complain it's too hot with the windows up and A/C turned off, how hot and tired are you going to be when your pushing you car to the nearest gas station?
Keep your windows rolled up to reduce wind resistance. We know, we know, but yes: You have to turn off the A/C?and?keep the windows rolled up. You should've thought of that before your tank got low.
4) Slow down immediately if possible - Studies have shown the optimal speed 35 to 45 mph for a vehicle to be the most fuel-efficient. If you're on a highway or interstate you must abide by traffic laws. Remember the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady will win the race. Don't speed up in an attempt to get to the gas station quicker. The faster you go or quicker you accelerate burns more fuel at a quicker rate.
5) Turn off any accessories - This one coincides with number two above. The fuel savings may be small, but turning off your stereo and unplugging any electrical devices (charging phones, iPads, tablets) could make the difference of a couple thousand feet to the nearest fuel pump.
6) Coast using the lay of the land - This does not mean shutting the engine completely off. It means if you find yourself going downhill, shift the car into neutral to give your engine a little break. By shifting your vehicle into neutral, you'll still have use of your power steering making it easier to maneuver and handle the vehicle.
There is no standard in the industry mandating automakers to provide you with a certain amount of mileage before your car runs out of gas. The golden rule is once your low-level fuel light illuminates, you have roughly about 40 miles before you're stranded on the side of the road.
If you're the type of person that loves to live on the edge by seeing just how far you can push your vehicle to empty. Try doing this to narrow down your estimate of how far you can drive after your low gas light comes on:
How to Estimate How Far You Can Go After Your Low Fuel Light Comes On
- Once your fuel light illuminates, immediately head to a gas station and fill your tank.
- Write down how many gallons of fuel your car took to fill up.
- Take the capacity of your cars fuel tank and subtract the number of gallons it took. If you have a 14 gallon tank and you car took 11.5 gallons, your fuel light illuminated with 2.5 gallons left.
- Take that number and multiply it by your vehicle's average estimated fuel economy. The results will tell you approximately how many miles you can drive when your low-fuel light comes on. Two and a half gallons times, let's say 28 mpg equals 70 miles before your vehicle is out of gas.
The reason cars come equipped with a low-fuel light is to let you know you need to stop and add fuel to your tank. Many experts say, "once your gauge hits a quarter of a tank, way before the low-fuel light illuminates, you should resist the urge to keep driving and stop to fill up your tank." This will keep sludge and other contaminants in the bottom of your tank from being sucked up into the engines fuel system and cause your vehicles fuel line to clog causing you costly mechanical repairs in the future.
Get Dealer's to Compete Online for the Best New Car Price
Before visiting a dealership to buy a new car, it's important to know the dealer invoice price and what other people are paying for the same vehicle in your local area. Otherwise, you won't know what truly is a good price to pay for any car you're looking at.
Learn how to have dealers compete with each other online before ever stepping foot inside a dealership to guarantee you pay the best new car price and avoid any modern day car dealer scams.
I always highly recommend using an online referral service such as CarClearanceDeals or Edmunds, their quotes will automatically include any discounts or cash-back incentives currently available in the marketplace.
Most Recent Car Buying News and Shopping Tips
September 30, 2018
Top 10 End of the Model Year New Car Buying Tips
If you're looking to get the most bang for your buck when shopping for a new vehicle, waiting to buy at the end of the manufacturer's current model year is a great way to potentially save hundreds.... READ MORE >>
Past Blogs, Car Buying Tips, and News
September 1, 2018
Should I Buy a Rental Car?
Potential benefits of buying a rental car include competitive prices, transparency and ease of shopping. But should you really steer clear of these vehicles that dozens of strangers have already driven.... READ MORE >>
July 31, 2018
How to Avoid Car Salesman Tactics and Techniques
The car salesman has you at a disadvantage. You see, he hones his car selling skills five or six days a week while you only buy a car once every three, four or five years. That doesn't mean they will lie.... READ MORE >>
June 30, 2018
Top 10 Car Buying Mistakes to Avoid
Buying a car is exciting and it's very easy to get carried away. You drive off the lot with a big grin on your face, but then a few days later realize you've made one of the common car buying mistakes. That's when... READ MORE >>
April 2, 2018
How to Buy a Used Car Online & Avoid the Dealership
Buying a used car from a dealership can be painful. Used car salespeople are often hard to work with. Even though some are charming and delightful you're usually left wondering if they just made a fat profit from... READ MORE >>
March 1, 2018
Should You Buy or Lease Your Next Car?
For some people leasing is a great deal, for others not so much. If you've ever wondered whether you should buy or lease a car, this article's for you. We'll go through the advantages and disadvantages of leasing... READ MORE >>
February 7, 2018
5 Simple Car Buying Tips That Actually Work
Car dealers are smart business people, experts in their field. They won't do a deal unless it's somehow right for them. It's in your best interest to adopt the same attitude when buying your next car... READ MORE >>
January 21, 2018
How to Sell a Car Online the Easy Way
For most people the exciting business of buying a car comes with a tiresome chore: selling the old car. Many car buyers choose to trade their old vehicle, but regular readers will know we're not fans... READ MORE >>
2017 Car Buying Blog Posts and Articles
December 28, 2017
How to Choose a Reputable Car Dealership
So you've decided it's time for a new car, new to you at least. You've done your research and narrowed it down to a particular brand, maybe even a specific make and model. But have you considered who you will... READ MORE >>
Dec 3, 2017
Top 10 Tips For Buying a Car at the End of the Year
The end of the calendar year can be a great time to get a deal on a new or used car. There's more to it than just strolling into the dealership on New Year's Eve though. Getting the lowest possible price takes... READ MORE >>
Nov 16, 2017
Black Friday Car Buying Tips
Is Black Friday a good day to go car shopping? It really depends on how you decide to go about it. We're a nation of bargain hunters. That's why Black Friday has become so big. Last year some 154 million... READ MORE >>
Oct 28, 2017
Why You Should Do Your Automobile Shopping Online
Bored, irritated, frustrated. No, not a hormonal teenager but a description of someone trying to buy a car in a dealership. All you want to do is get some information about cars and It's like the sales people... READ MORE >>
Sept 2, 2017
Flood Damaged Cars are Trouble; Buyer Beware
Flood damage is expensive to repair, so vehicles that have been flooded are often totaled by their insurance companies. Many will then be repaired and resold. Such vehicles should be identified on the title but... READ MORE >>
Aug 26, 2017
New Car Leasing Pros and Cons
We're all taught that if something looks too good to be true, it probably is. So what does that mean for those deals you see advertised everywhere? Can you really drive a new Lexus, BMW or Mercedes for $350... READ MORE >>
July 23, 2017
How Much Car Can I Afford?
Car buying guides always stress the importance of setting a budget before you start shopping. The reason is that without a hard limit you're likely to leave the dealership having spent much more than you wanted... READ MORE >>
May 23, 2017
Car Shopping Online Will Save You Money
Most people buy their music and books over the internet. You might even have bought your last vacation that way. So why do car buyers persist in visiting dealerships... READ MORE >>
April 1, 2017
Should I Buy a New or Used Vehicle
What should you buy, new or used? At first glance a used car seems to be the sensible choice. But if that's true, why do some 17 million Americans splurge on a new vehicle each year? They can't all be reckless spendthrifts... READ MORE >>
May 22, 2016
May 13, 2016
May 8, 2016
May 1, 2016
April 2016 Articles
April 24, 2016
April 17, 2016
April 10, 2016
April 3, 2016
Older Blog Posts and Car Buying Articles