Even the most sensible of us can find ourselves alarmingly low on petrol or diesel with no filling station in sight. Some drivers even turn seeing how far they can get with the low fuel light on into a kind of challenge. But how far can you really go when the tank’s all but empty?
They can be – it depends on your car. Some will indeed tell you you’re at zero when there’s actually a fair bit left in the tank. Others, however, will do the opposite, and drivers have been known to find themselves running out even though the gauge says they have fuel left. The former seems to be more common than the latter, but it’s best not to find out the hard way which group your car is in.
Your car computer may tell you how many miles you have left, but obviously this can only ever be an estimate, as your fuel economy varies depending on how you’re driving – for example, cars tend to get through fuel quicker on the motorway.
In the UK, around 800,000 people a year run out of fuel. In last year’s Auto Express Driver Power survey, almost 7 per cent of people who’d had to call out their breakdown service said they’d run out of fuel.
You can help make the last of your fuel stretch further by not accelerating or braking unnecessarily, and by keeping the revs low. The AA says that driving at 60mph rather than 70mph can improve fuel economy by around ten per cent. Turn the air conditioning off for the same reason, and close windows to reduce your car’s wind resistance.
As fuel runs low, the engine might stutter, particularly on hills, or the fuel pump may start to get hot. In addition, bits of debris that have entered the tank and settled at the bottom can get drawn into the engine, and get stuck in the pump or fuel filter. You can also damage the catalytic converter or the particulate filter, both of which are expensive to replace. The real danger, however, is running out completely and finding yourself either stranded, or in a dangerous situation amid fast-moving traffic.
When you buy from HarlowandMaidstone car dealers Carwise Group, you know you’re choosing a reputable used car dealer. All our cars are thoroughly checked before they go on sale and our technicians provide car servicing and repairs, so if something does go wrong as a result of running low on fuel, we can get you back on the road again in no time.