Is Driving On An Empty Tank Harmful To Your Car?

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Knowing how many kilometres you can drive on an empty fuel tank can help prevent you getting stranded in the middle of the road. Every driver occasionally lets their gas tank get low enough to trigger the low fuel warning light.

Even though we all know it’s best to keep your gas tank ¼ full, we still let it run low from time to time. Knowing how far you can drive on an empty gas tank will help keep you from getting stuck on the side of the road.

Before you allow your car run an a near empty tank, it is important you know just how many kilometres you can actually drive after the light comes on. It’s also smart to know what else is at stake when you let your fuel tank run to near depletion.

How Dangerous Is It To Drive With the low Fuel Warning Light On?
The primary concern when driving on empty is the possibility of running out of gas and getting stuck on the road, which is not only a hassle, but also a potentially dangerous situation.

Your car may stop on an expressway where all other cars are travelling at speeds of 100 kilometres per hour or more and any vehicle could rear end you. Or you could run out of fuel in the middle of an interstate Road, where you are surrounded by nothing but bushes.

With that being said, driving on an empty tank can also do damage to your vehicle. If you do run out of gas, you can do damage to your catalytic converter, which may then need to be repaired or replaced as a result.

Even the simple act of driving with a low amount of fuel in your tank can damage your fuel pump, as any debris or contamination in the fuel which naturally settles at the bottom of the tank, will be sent through your fuel pump when the tank is nearly empty.

You won’t only damage your car the first time you drive it with the low fuel warning light on, but it’s a harmful practice to do regularly.

How Much Can You Trust The Distance Of An Empty Gauge?
A lot of modern vehicles have a distance to empty gauge on their dashboard, which provides an approximation of how many kilometres can be driven before the car runs out of fuel.

Many people prefer to use this feature in lieu of the low fuel warning light, figuring that if the gauge says there are 20 kilometres left, then they have 20 kilometres before they run out of fuel.

This is however a dangerous practice, as the distance to empty gauge only offers a rough approximation based on the average mileage that you have attained while driving your vehicle. This means that it may not be very accurate relative to your current driving conditions.

For example, if most of your driving is done on the highway, then your distance to empty meter is probably not very accurate when you’re stuck in traffic.

So, while the gauge provides a fairly accurate approximation when your tank is relatively full, it shouldn’t be used to figure out your exact number of kilometres remaining in the tank when you’re running on empty.

How far can you drive on empty?
This majorly depends on your vehicle, your driving habits, and road conditions. However, you may be surprised to see that you can only drive a few kilometres when the low fuel warning light comes on.

Research shows that Nissan Altimas can go the farthest when the low fuel light is on, travelling up to 183 kilometres before coming to a halt. A Toyota Camry can travel up to 146 kilometres, a Toyota Corolla up to 135 kilometres and a Toyota Sienna 120 kilometres.

A Honda Accord will travel up to 145 kilometres, a Honda CR-V 125 kilometres and a Honda Civic about 128 kilometres.

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