how far can you drive like this text with a fuel gauge pointing to empty

Is It Safe to Drive While Your Low Fuel Light is On?

How Far Can Your Car or Truck Drive on Empty?

Have you ever felt a certain kind of panic that is unique to hearing or seeing a notification that your fuel tank is just about dried up and you aren’t sure when the next convenience station will appear? Chances are good that you have encountered this or something like it at some point, and perhaps you were fortunate and found a nearby gas station and took care of it right away. But what if there had been no gas station for kilometres upon kilometres? How many kilometres would it have been until you puttered to a stop on the side of the road? It may be longer than you think! How far can your car or truck drive on empty? Keep reading! 

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Can you drive on fumes?

First and foremost, it is not recommended to drive while your fuel gauge is pointing at empty or your low fuel light is shining. Not only is this putting your safety in danger with the potential for stranding you and your car out in the middle of nowhere or on a busy freeway, it can also damage your vehicle. When your fuel tank is that low, your fuel pump has to pull from whatever it can find in the tank, and that can sometimes involve sediment material that had settled to the bottom. With no fuel to intake, it’ll grab some of that sediment, which can damage things and make for a pricey repair. 

closeup of hand and fuel pump as person refuels carSo, with that being said, how far can you go if the situation arises with your car, truck, or SUV? It all depends. Different makes and models have different ranges, as do different styles. Your early ‘90s pickup truck probably won’t be able to drive as far on empty as a compact car from 2019. Generally speaking, vehicle driving range while on empty can be around 48 kilometres to 72 kilometres, with your larger vehicles being on the lower end of that scale. Some vehicles can even go as far as 150 kilometres or more, but those are much more extreme circumstances. This also varies due to differences between when certain makes and models actually alert the driver to a low fuel amount. Some vehicles are programmed to alert you when there are just a few litres left in the tank, while others might warn you when there is even less.  

Ultimately, your best bet is to not risk it. Pay attention to your fuel gauges and make sure you plan ahead to fill up during your commute, so you don’t get left out in the cold. 


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