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My Gas Tank Is on Empty: How Far Can I Go?

When your fuel light comes on, it’s usually wise not to tempt fate. Chances are, you’re not far from a filling station. Most people will push their car another 5, 10 miles tops before filling back up. But what if you’re on a road trip and forgot to fill up? That gas light can be anxiety inducing when you pass a sign that reads, “Next Gas: 20 Miles.”

The good news is, most vehicle manufacturers have given you a nice cushion. When the gas light illuminates, the remaining range for most passenger cars and trucks is 20 to 40 miles—and occasionally more—depending on your engine type and driving habits.

If you find yourself in this situation, slow down to the speed limit and accelerate gradually to conserve fuel. If it’s hot, don’t fall into the old way of thinking: running today’s energy-efficient car air conditioners is actually better for gas mileage than rolling down windows, which creates wind drag.

Of course, it’s best not to push the limits this far in the first place.

Fuel gauges are not an exact science, so be sure to take “20 to 40 miles” with a grain of salt.

What’s more, driving with an empty gas tank can be damaging to certain engine parts such as the fuel pump and catalytic converter. Most manufacturers and car experts recommend keeping a quarter of tank in your car at all times.

Like this content? Let us know! Atlas Body Shop works hard to provide relevant and interesting information to automotive consumers in the San Antonio, TX area.

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