According to a recent AAA survey, 24 million (11 percent) American drivers continue to drive after the low fuel warning light turns on. Drivers who attempt to stretch a tank of gas too far could end up stranded. AAA cautions drivers that allowing their car to run out of fuel can not only put them in a potentially dangerous situation, but also could result in costly repairs.
"Some drivers are trying to be resourceful and delay fuel expenditures by driving their car until the gas tank is nearly empty, but this can sometimes do more harm than good," said Scott Tennant, Director of Emergency Road Service Field Operations.
Potential Costly Repairs from Running on Empty
Most modern cars have their fuel pump mounted inside the fuel tank. These pumps require a constant flow of fuel to lubricate and cool them during operation. Running a vehicle extremely low on fuel may allow air to be drawn into the pump, which can cause overheating and increased wear that eventually leads to pump failure. The cost to replace a fuel pump can be $500 or more in parts and labor.
Dangers of Running Out of Gas
Running out of gas also can put the personal safety of a driver and their passengers in jeopardy should the vehicle become immobilized on the roadway. Power steering and brakes can be lost if an engine dies, and drivers may end up stranded in the middle of a busy highway. Fortunately, most out-of-gas situations can be avoided just simply by keeping an eye on the fuel gauge.
Finding the Lowest Priced Gas before Hitting Empty
AAA recommends drivers always maintain at least a quarter tank of fuel. For drivers looking to save money when they fill up, AAA can help with several free tools. Both the AAA TripTik Travel Planner and the free AAA Mobile app allow drivers to plan efficient routes and locate the least expensive places to stop for gas near their location.
Safe, Smart Ways to Save on Gas
AAA encourages drivers to make a few simple changes in driving habits that can greatly improve their fuel economy. Instead of making quick starts and sudden stops, go easy on the gas and brake pedals. If there is a red light ahead, ease off the gas and coast up to it rather than waiting until the last second to brake. Once the light turns green, accelerate gently rather than making a 'jackrabbit' start.
Speed also is a key factor in conserving fuel. The fuel efficiency of most vehicles decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Take it easy on the road and you will see significant savings at the pump.