Refuel before your car flashes red

Thursday November 8 2018

Many cars, depending on the size of their

Many cars, depending on the size of their reserve tank, will drive between 40 kilometres and 70 kilometres after the gauge has dropped into the empty zone. That, of course, will depend on the style of driving and the weight of the car. FILE PHOTO 

By Roland D. Nasasira

Most times when you drive to a fuel station, it is likely that you will refuel according to your daily or weekly fuel budget. The increasing fuel prices and income, among other factors determine the amount of fuel you put in your tank.
George Agaba owns a Toyota Ipsum. One afternoon when he reached Kijjabijo from Kayunga, his car stopped in the middle of the road.
“When I opened the car bonnet to check if the battery terminals had become loose, I found them tight. I looked for a mechanic from the nearby trading centre who upon checking advised me to fuel the car. When I bought fuel, the engine started and I continued with my journey,” Agaba recalls.
Since that day, Agaba says he learnt to never wait for his car to reach the E-mark.
Bashir Sekitoleko, a motorist, agrees that there are times when he is not in a stable financial situation that at times forces him to refuel his Toyota Premio with as little as Shs15,000, which is approximately three and a half litres of fuel. This, however, only takes him from home to work and back home.
“I realised that my car consumes more when I refuel with little money and it takes me more time or days to refuel if I fill the tank,” Sekitoleko says.
Have a functioning gauge
On a car fuel gauge, the E-mark means your fuel tank is almost empty while the F-mark means your fuel tank is full. When you are left with half a tank of fuel, your gauge pointer that looks more like a clock or watch arm will be positioned right in the middle of the gauge.
When you are left with half tank, the gauge pointer will be positioned in the middle of the half tank mark and the E-mark labels. These are visible when you look closely on your car fuel gauge.
Edgar Kaweesa, a mechanic in Wandegeya says different cars are left with different fuel levels by the time your car reaches the empty mark. Cars such as Toyota Mark II will be left with approximately one litre of fuel while SUVs such as the Toyota Prado TX would be left with slightly more than a litre.

Damaging the fuel pump
One of the car parts that get damaged as a result of driving on an almost empty tank is the fuel pump. Unlike the car engine, the fuel pump is lubricated by fuel to allow it go about its work effectively. Having enough fuel in your car also plays an important role of keeping your fuel pump cool.
Not only does underfuelling spoil your fuel pump but it also subjects the inner parts of fuel tank, which are hard, if not impossible to see, to rust, especially at the bottom. This, according to Kidega, means that your little fuel will get mixed up with metals, which eventually damages your fuel pump.

Clogging your filter
Martin Mugume, a mechanic at Vine Motor Garage in Kisaasi, says when your fuel filter is clogged with rusted metal particles, your engine will not receive enough fuel from the tank. As a result, the fuel pump will heat up, subjecting it to wear and tear that could have been avoided if you put enough fuel in your tank.

Manual vs automatic
Unlike manual cars that are likely to cover some distance, even after the fuel has completely run down, automatic transmission cars will come to a complete halt once the fuel tank dries up. However, even then manual cars become a menace because their speed becomes intermittent.
So while it is okay to experiment, it is risky.