Getting stranded isn’t the only problem with running out of gas

By Product Expert | Posted in FAQs on Monday, January 18th, 2021 at 12:56 pm
A stock photo of a low fuel warning on a a vehicle's dashboard.

Why is it bad to drive a car on empty? 

Just like you eat food to fuel your body, your car, truck or SUV more or less eats gasoline (or diesel) to produce the power to move it down the road. However, your vehicle doesn’t deal with being hungry as well as you might – even if you do get a little ‘hangry.’ The most obvious answer to the question, why is it bad to drive a car on empty, is that you’ll eventually be stranded on the side of the road. This will usually happen at the most inconvenient time possible. For the most part, any given vehicle’s fuel system is going to be pretty easy to understand, that doesn’t mean car owners should be reckless. Let’s take a closer look at some things you might need to know. 

READ MORE: How far can I drive with the fuel light on? 

What happens when the fuel is too low? 

Filter Problems — A fuel pump is just like any other kind of pump. It moves the fuel in the gas tank to the engine, where it is burned. While modern gasoline is as clean as ever (when purchased from a reputable source), contaminants can still show up. Since a fuel pump works with a floating intake, consistently having too little gas in the tank can cause the pump to suck up junk from the bottom and clog the fuel filter. Obviously, this will lead to predictable problems. 

Pump Problems — Speak of predictable problems, a clogged fuel filter will put additional stress on the fuel pump. This component is designed to be cooled and lubricated by the gasoline that flows through it. A clogged filter may allow air to travel through the pump which is very bad. A fuel filter is a relatively inexpensive part, but the labor it takes to replace it can be very expensive. 

Engine Problems — Air in the fuel pump will eventually become air in the engine. Normally, this wouldn’t be a bad thing. However, anytime the fuel/air mixture in an engine cylinder is off, a misfire can occur. Over time, engine misfires can lead to catastrophic engine failure. The consequences of this are almost too expensive to even think about. 

If you’re ready to move on to a more reliable vehicle, make an appointment with a Third Coast Auto Group product expert today.