How Many Miles Can You Drive on Empty Fuel Tank?

How many drivers fill up the fuel the moment it hits half of the tank? Well, only a handful of them, probably. People are more concerned about getting lost, engine failure in a stranded road, or getting stuck in traffic jams. But, running out of fuel is a real danger that can catch you off guard in the most unexpected place. If that happens, how many miles can you drive on empty? What is the safest number before the car is on fume and comes to a halt?

How Many Miles Left When Gas Light Comes On?

There is a common belief that a car can run for 40 to 50 miles after gas light comes on. At least, these are the numbers that the fuel gauge on the dashboard tells you. But, can you trust the reading?

Many drivers ignore the fuel warning light in favor of the distance to empty gauge. It shows the approximate miles that the vehicle can go before running out of gas.

miles after gas light
You should not drive with a low fuel level.

The fuel gauge reading is not accurate given that it depends on your driving habits, road conditions, and the average mileage you get on that vehicle. For example, if you drive mostly on the highway, the reading will be inaccurate when you are in the city or stuck in the traffic.

You have to weigh in some other factors to find out how many miles when gas light comes on.


How Many Miles Can You Drive on Empty?

In contrary to the popular belief, there won’t be many miles left after the low-fuel warning light comes on. The number varies significantly across various makes and models.

There is a chart made by Your Mechanic shows the numbers for the 50 best-selling cars in the United States in 2015. the chart shows that you can go 30 to over 100 miles on a nearly empty tank. Obviously, the mileage depends on the car’s model, make, and fuel-efficiency.

how many miles when gas light comes on
The chart showing miles for different models. Source: Your mechanic.

Is It Safe to Drive in an Empty Tank?

According to that chart, a Toyota Camry can run for another 65 to 91 miles when left with 2.6 gallons. A Honda Civic can go up to 80 miles on 1.89 gallons while it is highest 83 miles on 2.6 gallons for a Subaru Forester.

You already know how many miles can you drive on empty, but shall you do it? Is it safe to keep driving with a low fuel level or an empty gas tank?

Experts advise against it! Doing so can badly damage your car. When the engine runs without any fuel in the tank, the catalytic converter takes the most of the blow. You may even need to repair or replace it if you drive the car in that condition for too long.

Driving with a low-level of fuel is also harmful. It allows the debris and contamination in the fuel tank entering the fuel pump and ruining it.

So, even if a car can drive a long distance on empty, don’t do it unless there is an emergency. Also, try to avoid driving after the low gas light warning is on.