Can Driving On Empty Hurt Your Car?

We’ve all been victims of seeing the low fuel warning light come up on our car’s dashboard before. Some people panic and immediately zip to find the closest gas station, but there are a handful of risk takers out there who push it as far as they can before filling up. Whether you’re tempting fate, or simply not paying attention, running on an empty tank can hurt your vehicle in the long run. Read on to learn why.


Most low-fuel signals don’t illuminate until it approximates that you have a 30-50 miles range of driving left. It is very important that you understand that your car is simply making an estimate. Depending on your traffic patterns, your car can burn more or less at a distance. 


The most obvious reason why you shouldn’t run your gas tank empty is that you don’t want to be stuck and stranded. It is a major inconvenience, and it should be avoided. Most people don’t know that running on empty can also harm your vehicle’s fuel system and beyond. It can do the following to these components:

  • Fuel Filter - When your vehicle runs too low on fuel, there’s a greater chance that debris and other sediments at the bottom of your fuel tank get pulled through the pump. When this happens too often, it can clog up your fuel filter sooner. As a result, your engine may not receive a sufficient amount or flow of fuel.
  • Fuel Pump - The dirt and contaminants sitting at the bottom of the tank can also harm the fuel pump. Typically, this part should not fail unless it strains itself in the process of transporting the fuel.
  • Engine - Last but not least, running your car too close to an empty tank can mess with the air and fuel ratio. As mentioned in the previous two points, your engine may not receive a consistent amount of fuel. With an unbalanced mixture, it can experience misfires, hesitation, and overall loss of power. 

If you want your fuel system and engine to stay healthy, please do not wait too long to refill your gas tank. If you are looking for quality auto repairs, please turn to the repair experts at Spectrum Car Care today.

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