Running Out Of Gas Ruins Your Car

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​Always checking the empty sign on your car’s fuel gauge is the most basic yet essential maintenance advice you will receive because running out of gas ruins your car. Let our experienced and licensed car mechanics at American Auto Care explain why running out of gas is problematic and how you can prevent this from happening.

Everyone knows what that E on the fuel gauge means, yet some believe that they got a few miles left before completely running out of fuel. What these people fail to realize is that despite the fact that their car can keep moving for some time, the car is struggling in the process.

A car has mechanisms that help push fuel into the engine, and with an almost empty fuel tank, these mechanisms suffer, eventually ruining your car.

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Some car owners even say that they’re not aware that they’re running on an almost empty tank and that they can’t always check the fuel gauge every so often. Those are just excuses if you know how your car works when it is running out of fuel. 

Running Out Of Gas: What Are The Signs?

An empty tank will not suddenly put your vehicle to a halt. You will eventually cover some distance despite the condition. So, the best way to avoid running out of gas is to understand fuel starvation signs. 

Instead of making excuses that you didn’t see it coming, know the signs of fuel starvation that your car exhibits. 

Fuel starvation includes intermittent power surges, engine sputter, and sometimes, engine backfires. When you’re behind the wheel, you need to be sensitive even to the sound and feel that your car creates because they signal the condition of your car while running.

When you notice a loss in power, you need to safely make your way off the road surface. This could be a bit challenging since running on an empty tank will require more effort in steering and braking. 

This is caused by the lack of hydraulic power that goes off together with the engine when you run out of gas. Lucky for those with electric power steering since electric power-assist can help you as long as your battery is still charged.

Car Problems Caused By Running Out Of Gas

Keeping your fuel tank full is one good way of properly maintaining your car. Since running out of gas ruins your car, you must keep track of the fuel gauge every now and then and avoid repairs that you can definitely prevent in the first place. 

Instead of being cheap and allowing your engine to draw in air with the remaining fuel, you can always choose to be mindful of your fuel supply and ensure that you will be within the vicinity of a gas refilling station even before your fuel gauge touches the E sign. 

Here are the parts of your car that will likely encounter problems because of running out of gas:

Engine. Since the engine is the main part of your car that relies on fuel to power up, it’s natural that it would be one of the first mechanisms that would suffer from running out of gas. Replacing or rebuilding a car engine is costly, and running out of fuel can cause major engine problems. 

Similar to the problems previously mentioned, when the fuel tank is almost empty, the engine draws in the remaining gas and fills the remaining space with air. When this happens, it is difficult to start your car due to air build-up, which needs to be bled off so your engine can run properly again.

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Will the engine immediately sustain damage when you run out of gas? No. Most engines nowadays are manufactured to withstand the effects of drying up.

However, regularly running out of gas gradually decreases the efficiency of the engine and shortens its estimated life span. You can maximize the utilization of your car engine with proper usage including proper maintenance through refilling your tank to avoid running to low.

Another engine problem that may occur is an engine misfire. This happens when the gas injected into the engine is not enough, and the fuel may reach just one cylinder instead of two.

This means that combustion will only be possible in the cylinder with fuel and the other cylinder will not function properly. Instead of a rich combination of air-fuel of 12:1, it could become 14:1 that affects the engine performance and harms the engine in the long run. 

Fuel filters and fuel injectors. It’s not only the air that the engine draws in when the fuel tank is almost empty. It also draws the debris, scum, sediments, and particle buildup at the bottom of the fuel tank. 

Where do these sediments come from? There is airborne debris and impurities in the fuel, and they form sediments or particle build-up at the bottom of the fuel tank over time. 

Since the job of the fuel filter is to screen such impurities when gas is drawn into the engine, all these impurities could cause clogging of the fuel filters. Worse, these sediments can also clog the fuel injectors, the small nozzles that spray gas into the engine. 

Thus, the engine could fail to perform properly, or worse, it would not start at all. This problem is enough to sway any car owner to drop the habit of emptying the fuel tank, as you might not be able to start your engine even after refilling. 

The sediments that clogged the fuel filters are also difficult to remove. You can easily replace the clogged fuel filter for an easy fix while on the side of the road, however, fixing a clogged fuel injector is costly and difficult that you would need your car towed.

Fuel pump. Another mechanism that could be damaged by running out of gas is the fuel pump. Since it’s the mechanism that draws in the fuel, and unfortunately, air and sediments when the fuel tank is empty, it gets damaged in the process. 

The work of the fuel pump to move the fuel from the tank to the filters becomes difficult when impurities and air make their way into the pump and filters. This makes the fuel pump work harder, eventually heating it up, and gradually damaging it in the process. 

Though a fuel pump is designed to last as long as the lifetime of your car, its performance could be affected by regular overheating. Overheating of the fuel pump is inevitable when it’s only pumping air instead of fuel. 

This is due to the design of the fuel pump to lubricate and cool itself as it works. However, without fuel, this is not possible. This will eventually lead to the engine shut off. 

To avoid this, check your car manual for the suggested minimum fuel level to avoid overheating the fuel pump.

How To Avoid Running Out Of gas

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Driving your car with an empty fuel tank is surely inconvenient, embarrassing, and distressful. Also, it will ruin your car in the process. There’s no reason to let your car run out of gas. So, here are three things you can do as a responsible owner to avoid such mishap:

Keep an eye on your fuel gauge. The best advice is to be mindful and always check your fuel gauge. Check it every time you sit behind the wheel. Develop the habit of looking into the fuel gauge even before starting the ignition. 

Make it a part of your routine before actually driving. Also, monitor the fuel gauge when you go out for a long drive.

Fill up your tank. You shouldn’t find it inconvenient to go to the gas station every time the fuel gauge dips to the quarter-tank mark. It’s better to go to the gas station numerous times than finding yourself stranded on the side of the road with possible car problems.

Know your route. When you need to cover a long distance for your road trip, know how far your drive will be and where the gas stations are along the way. Plan your route to avoid running out of gas in the middle of nowhere. 

Things To Do When You Run Out Of Gas

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No matter how mindful you are with your fuel level, there might come a time that your estimated

distance could be wrong and you run out of gas. Here is what you can do:

  1. Quickly and safely pull over. You would not want sediments to clog your filters and injectors.
  2. Turn off the ignition.
  3. Turn on the emergency flashers/hazard lights for roadside safety.
  4. Consider your options. You can walk to the nearest gas station with a gas can, or call for help, whether it be your auto club, roadside-assistance provider, or a nearby gas. Then, wait inside.
  5. If the engine does not start after a refill or it fails to run smoothly, have it towed. 

If you have been driving for many years, you probably have found yourself running out of fuel at least once. It surely places you in distress, especially when there are people inconvenienced when you suddenly stop in the middle of the road. 

Regardless of the circumstances, the effects of running out of gas ruins your car. So, it’s better to prevent this by simply keeping the fuel tank full.  10 minutes taken to fill the tank can spare costs and much more wasted time down the road.

Running Out Of Gas Ruins Your Car – Call Us To Get Your Car Checked

Now that you know how running out of gas ruins your car and the ways you can prevent it from happening, you should still consider other ways to take care of your car such as scheduled maintenance and checkup and immediate repairs of minor issues.

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These are all possible with a trusted mechanic in Murrieta, Southern California. American Auto Care/ASR offers car repair services to help your car stay in good condition and avoid major repairs in the future. 

You can check all their services on our website or call us for an appointment at 951-461-2507.

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