The Hazards Of Running On Fumes

28 07 2010

Dale BertramAre you one of those people who don’t put gas into your tank until it beeps a warning? Do you feel confident you can go several more miles before actually running out of gas? Do you make a game of “I think I can, I think I can” meaning I think I can get to a gas station on just fumes alone? If so, read on!

I’ve known a few people in my time who enjoy the challenge of pulling up to the gas station on fumes. Sure…they have lost a few times and had to hoof it to the nearest station, buy a gas can and walk back to where their trusty vehicle finally stopped. Many brag after this experience that now they actually know for sure how many miles they can drive after their car beeps! I’m happy those people enjoy such games and challenges, but playing that game can have costly, not to mention damaging results for your vehicle.

Most vehicles have an electric fuel pump. This sits inside the tank actually submerged in the fuel. This allows the pump to stay cool and lubricated. Without this submergence in fuel the pump can self destruct from overheating. The reserve fuel inside your tank prevents this from happening. Some vehicles have a well that the pump sits inside and if this well runs dry the pump also gets damaged. If your vehicle is fueled by diesel and this occurs, it also becomes necessary to “prime it” to get fuel to the pump.

Heat also plays a factor. When you have 90 degree days coupled with the heat from the pavement on the bottom side of the car where the fuel tank sits, it does not take much for the pumps to go bad.

Obviously, you can’t drive forever on an empty tank…but if you regularly put in just enough gas to get by; your fuel pump can fail earlier than normal. Your pump will also be taking in the “bottom of the barrel” fuel which is full of debris. This sediment in the bottom of the fuel tank can also clog the fuel filter, fuel injectors as well as the pump pickup. I generally don’t let my tank get below 1/4 tank for this reason.

The best thing you can do for your vehicle is fill it up when it gets to a quarter tank. It will save you money in the long run and keep your car running well. Sure…it doesn’t have the same challenge as driving on fumes, but when it comes to your vehicle, it is always wise to consider damage control…both to your car and your wallet!

Happy Motoring,




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