Ask the Mechanic: Can I drive with the fuel empty light on?
What you need to know:
In this day and age of global high fuel prices, the urge to squeeze extra kilometres out of each litre of fuel is understandable
How far can I drive with the fuel light on and does this affect the engine or car in any way?
How far you can go when driving your car with the fuel empty light on ranges from 10 to 50kms or more, depending on the type of car, size of the engine, fuel efficient technology on board, size of the car and your driving style; aggressive or sensible. In this day and age of global high fuel prices, the urge to squeeze extra kilometres out of each litre of fuel is understandable.
The road ‘geniuses’ have come up with all sorts of wrong unorthodox innovations such as switching off the engine and rolling down the hill or rolling down in neutral with the engine running (coasting).
In both cases, you risk losing brakes and steering or transmission and engine assist to braking. So, the temptation to push the car to the limit when your fuel empty light turns on can be strong.
Many succumb to it, especially when they realise that they can still drive for quite a distance towards their destination.
There are cars with computers that actually tell you how far (range) you can still drive with the fuel in your tank. For those without that facility, it is easy to run out of luck and get stranded in the middle of nowhere deep in the night. There is possible damage that can occur to the car’s fuel pump and engine when you regularly drive with the fuel empty light on. Most tank fitted fuel pumps in petrol cars are immersed in fuel for cooling and as such, will overheat and get damaged if the tank is almost empty all the time.
The tendency to pump through dirt and fuel tank debris is highest when you run on empty or ‘gas fumes’. This dirt will clog and damage the fuel pump and fuel injectors.
An almost empty fuel tank also causes the car to misfire and overtime, causes some costly damage to internal engine components in the combustion chamber. So, think twice before you get comfortable driving with the fuel empty light on.
Send sms: mycar (space) your comments and questions to 6933 or email them to: [email protected]