How Driving on E Can Hurt Your Car
OK—so you know it, we know it, and pretty much every car driver knows it. Heck, your daughter probably knows it… To prevent the chances of running out of gas, be sure to fill up when the needle drops to a quarter of a tank.
And then? Reality kicks in… Suddenly the fuel light is on, the needle’s in the red, and—if you have a “miles left” computer—it’s dropping towards zero faster than you can Google “gas station near me.” We’re all guilty of failing to fill up on occasion, experiencing those stomach-churning moments when you pray that the E actually stands for, “enough to get me to the gas station, please.”
But what does this actually do to your car? Does it really cause damage? Or is it simply an apocryphal tale that running low or out of gas leads to increased maintenance costs?
Well, the time has come to put the record straight once and for all…
Because it’s not just running out of fuel when the damage occurs…
…It begins when the engine is beginning to use up the dregs. The thing is, gas contains tiny particles that the interior workings of an engine and exhaust system aren’t able to cope with. So when those last drops of fuel are being sucked up, so are these particles. And this kicks off a chain of events that you really don’t want to happen.
The catalytic converter, a section of the exhaust system, begins to clog up.
- Debris collects in the fuel pump and/or fuel filter.
- Pre-1980 cars have metal fuel tanks. Harmful deposits build up on the bottom of these over time, and if you let your car run low on gas these get drawn into the engine.
- If the fuel pump is situated in the gas tank the fuel acts as insulation and lubrication. Running the tank low or to empty deprives the pump of this attribute, leading to excessive heat. This can cause the fuel pump to heave its last well before it’s designed to.
Does empty really mean empty?
Now isn’t that the million-dollar question. The thing is, all cars are different. And when the fuel light comes on there could be anything from two to four gallons left. And how that converts into distance depends on a combination of things, such as how efficiently you drive, the size of the engine, and your location–such as on a freeway or stuck in a jam. And unless you drive until you grind to a halt, there’s no precise way to find out, No—not even if you have a display that tells you how many miles are left, although these do tend to be reasonably accurate.
In short, unless you want to be stuck with an unnecessary, and often expensive, repair bill, consider that running a car anywhere near to empty is causing unseen damage.
If the worst happens and you do run out of fuel, the best thing to do is get the engine looked at straight away. Household name, Jiffy Lube, has outlets throughout North America. A quick online search for “Jiffy Lube near me” will show you the closest, and you can get an immediate car inspection to ensure that any damage is kept to a minimum.
And don’t worry: much as it’s a preventable issue, it’s also a very common one. And with the amount most of us are trying to juggle 24/7, forgetting to gas up really is a forgivable offense. Countrywide, Jiffy Lube provides the most convenient and quick solution to get back on the road in the shortest time possible.