What Happens When You Run Out of Gas

January 27, 2012

You may have never run out of gas on the road before, or it may be something that has happened to you several times. So what happens when a vehicle runs out of gas? That depends on the model and year that you are driving, but it can lead to some problems besides just being stranded and out of gas.

Running Out of Gas: Some Possible Results

Running out of gas is generally not good for a vehicle. It may not cause any lasting problems. You may just fill it back up and go on down the road. But sometimes, running out of gas makes the fuel pump fail. That's because on some vehicles, the fuel cools and lubricates the fuel pump. When it doesn't have gas any more, it seizes up. For this reason, experts recommend not leaving the ignition on when the car is running out of gas. There can also be other problems related to sediment in the fuel tank or issues with a lack of fuel in the system, according to the vehicle's type and whether it is fuel injected.


On some vehicles, the manufacturer recommends keeping at least a quarter of a tank full of gas on the road to prevent this situation. Some fuel guages are better than others at showing how much fuel is left in the tank. In general, the low fuel light on the dash serves as an effective warning. If you're getting low, don't tempt fate. Pull over and fill up when the light comes on. Otherwise, you may find yourself running out of fuel behind a light or traffic jam, on a bridge or tunnel, or an unimaginable situation.

Another tip is to get off of the road if you notice the vehicle sputtering while the fuel dial is on empty. You may have some warning signals just before your fuel tank runs dry, and this is your opportunity to leave the road so you're not stranded in a lane of traffic. When you are saefly off of the road, tie a white rag to your antenna, and walk to the nearest gas station to get some fuel.

The above illustrates some potential problems with running out of gas on the road.

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