How low should you let your gas get? We all know that no gas in the tank means your car isn’t going anywhere. We also are all mostly aware of the fact that driving around with your fuel light on isn’t great for your car (or your stress levels). So how low should you let your tank get between trips to the gas station? Let’s talk about your gas tank, and why you shouldn’t let your gas fall below 1/4 tank.
How Low Should You Let Your Gas Get?
How low should you let your gas get? The answer to the question ‘how low should you let your gas get’ can vary depending on who you talk to. Generally speaking, you should never let your fuel tank fall below 1/4 tank of gas. Letting fuel levels fall below that level increase chance of breakdown. Plus, it’s bad for your fuel pump. Though car’s often give ranges for the fuel you have in the tank, it’s important not to put all your trust in these, as fuel efficiency can change rapidly with weather and traffic conditions.
The Dangers of Letting Your Gas Go Too Low
Damaging Your Fuel Pump
Your fuel pump in located inside your engine. It’s responsible for feeding fuel into your engine and is located where the fuel is kept cool.
When fuel levels are lower than the fuel pump in the engine, the pump can start sucking air, since there is no fuel to take in. This process generates heat. Overheating when there is no fuel can lead to premature wear on your fuel pump or cause complete failure if it gets hot enough. Fuel pumps should usually last around 100,000 miles, so if yours is failing prematurely it could be from habitually letting your fuel go too low. Repairing a fuel pump can be expensive. The best defense you have is keeping enough fuel in the tank that your fuel pump doesn’t take in any air.
Signs of a bad fuel pump
There are a few signs to look for if your suspect your fuel pump needs to be replaced:
- Lowered fuel economy. If your fuel economy has decreased its possible that the release value inside your fuel pump has failed.
- Difficulty starting the engine. If your car isn’t starting it may be that fuel isn’t able to reach the engine.
If you suspect an issue with your fuel pump, let our team at Beetlesmith’s take a look.
Losing Money at the Pump
On a more immediate and practical note, never letting your car get below 1/4 tank can help you save on gas. When you’re running low on fuel, typically you’ll rush to the nearest gas station to fuel up. Since you’ll need gas immediately, you won’t be able to take your time to find the gas station with the lowest prices. That means you’re stuck with the prices at the nearest station you can find, no matter how high they are.
Tips to Keep Your Tank From Getting too Low
There are easy steps you can take to make sure you never let your car get too low:
- Fill up before long trips, especially through areas where gas stations are less common.
- Keep your accelerations consistent. Rapid acceleration and constant speeding can reduce your gas mileage from 15% to 30% on freeways. If you have a cruise control, using it when traffic permits can help conserve gas and increase your vehicle’s fuel economy.
- Use apps to compare gas prices. This can keep you from driving around longer than you can afford looking for a good deal.
Something to Consider
During the winter months, it may be a good idea to have at least half a tank of gas at any given time. This gas to do with cold temperatures. While gasoline itself typically won’t freeze in cold weather due to its chemical composition, condensation in the engine can and will freeze under the right circumstances. Frozen water can go down the fuel line, slowing or even blocking it altogether. Keeping at least half a tank at all times leaves less space for water and can mitigate the risk of freezing engines.