Remember when you first learned how to drive and your dad said never let your gas tank get too low? You agreed at the time that this was a good action plan but have since pushed your vehicle to the limit over the years. We here at Stringer Auto Repair hate to admit it, but your dad was right. Driving your vehicle on empty does more than place you at risk of running out of gas; it also damages your car.
We Get It
We get it. We really do. When money is tight in the budget department, some things become sacrificial, and a full tank of gas might be one of them, especially if you can make it to and from work on low fuel. Still, the low fuel warning light wasn’t put on your dashboard to scream at you that the gas station should be the next stop in your daily commute. It was also put on your dashboard to warn you that the gas tank is dangerously low, i.e., you could cause engine damage if you keep driving.
Here’s where your mom comes in. Remember when she used to compare this to prove that one thing ends up being more expensive than the other thing? Engine repairs are much more expensive than keeping your gas tank at least one-quarter-to-half-full, so your mom is right, too. Driving on empty constantly can end up costing you more money in the end than giving your car the “food” it needs, even if it is to keep the tank partially full instead of full. This is true with oil changes, too.
Low Fuel Damage
Getting back to fuel, however, when you let your gas tank get down to the warning light and then see how far you can get on fumes, the following happens to your car, truck, or SUV’s fuel system and engine:
- Your fuel pump begins to overheat because the gas it draws from the tank keeps it cool, and it isn’t drawing enough gas from your empty tank.
- The fuel pump also draws sediment that has settled in the bottom of the tank, which is naturally-occurring in all gasoline, including premium.
- As your fuel pump overheats, it begins to breakdown and fail prematurely. The hot part also overheats your engine.
- The sediment the fuel pump draws from the tank clogs the fuel filter, and smaller particles that make it through begin to cause engine damage.
- You end up with fuel filter and pump replacement and engine repairs.
- All of that can be very expensive.