With higher gas prices lingering, some drivers are trying to squeeze every drop out of their tanks before filling up. For some drivers, that means driving until their gas gauge hits “E,” and then some. However, AAA officials say that’s a bad idea.
“AAA recommends that folks keep their gas tanks at least a quarter full at all times,” said Joshua Zuber with AAA Texas.
Zuber said there are two main reasons for not dipping below a quarter tank. One is, you can’t always trust your dashboard to give you the most accurate fuel information.
AAA did a study of several vehicles and found, depending on your driving habits, some “miles-to-empty” read-outs can overestimate how far you can go until you run out of gas.
“Really, you want to be relying on the good old-fashioned fuel gauge,” said Zuber.
Plus, consistently running your tank down to “E” could wind up costing you money. Zuber said every time you do this, you risk damaging your fuel pump.
“You could actually be drawing air into your fuel pump and that could overheat the fuel pump as well as cause unnecessary wear-and-tear,” said Zuber.
Another reason to keep your vehicle from going below a quarter-tank is safety.
AAA’s study found that while fuel gauges are the more accurate tool, these too can be slightly off, and if you misjudge, you can wind up stuck on the side of a freeway.
“Most of them just try to make it somewhere and just stretch it a little too far,” said Harris County Sheriff’s deputy James Drennan.
Drennan is with Transtar’s Motorist Assistance Program or MAP, which works to get stranded motorists off the freeway as quickly as possible. Drennan said while he doesn’t see a lot of people running out of gas, it does happen.
“Usually, what I get is ‘well, I was trying to make it. I thought I could make it to the next gas station,’” said Drennan.
AAA has several tips on “How to Maximize Fuel Economy.”