So, what to do when you run out of gas?
When the car stops and the low fuel warning light is glowing on the dash what should you do next?
Well, this article will show you some useful tips that should help you get out of trouble and get back on the road as soon as possible.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN GAS RUNS OUT?
The usual scenario for running out of gas is this. First, the warning light for low fuel comes up on the dash.
From this point onwards you have, on average, 80 km (50 miles) of driving left. Don’t take this data for granted, for every car it’s different depending on gas tank capacity.
When the fuel is totally used up the engine will eventually start sputtering and will stop.
All the lights on the dash will come up and the drive is over.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU RUN OUT OF GAS?
1. DO NOT PANIC
The most important tip for learning what to do when you run out of gas is don’t panic and stay in control.
To be honest, there’s no need for panic in the first place since you know what awaits you thanks to the warning light.
Even if for some reason you don’t know (like if the fuel gauge doesn’t work for instance) the moment you hear the engine sputtering and cutting out keep the car under control, don’t be all over the road, and stay calm as much as possible.
Rather, immediately start doing the next tip.
2. PULL OVER TO A SAFE PLACE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
The moment you notice that the engine is cutting out, turn on the hazard lights and look for a safe place to pull over.
Do so as soon as possible because when the engine cuts out you only have a couple of dozen of meters of inertia before you have to get out and push the car to safety.
3. MAKE SURE YOUR VISIBLE ENOUGH ON THE ROAD
Make yourself visible on the road if you didn’t manage to pull over to a parking lot or some other safe place.
On stop lanes on the highway or other roads, you must make yourself visible, especially during nighttime.
So, once you pull over, it’s best to do the whole safety drill. Use the hazard lights, emergency triangle, and if you’re going to be outside of the car wear a fluorescent safety vest.
Do this especially if you have to leave the car on the side of the road.
4. CALL FOR HELP
When talking about what to do when you run out of gas this tip is a no-brainer.
Of course, the first thing you’ll do is call for help.
Call a friend, family member, spouse, or else. If you’ve driven far away, call road assistance.
If you can reach anyone the problem is solved. The only nuisance is the loss of time because of waiting.
5. GO AND SEARCH FOR GAS
This tip is when you run out of gas in a remote place, with no phone signal, no assistance, no one can come to the rescue, or perhaps other more serious situations.
These situations are rare but we’ll mention them anyway as it might come in handy.
The best and sometimes only option that you have is to hitchhike yourself a ride. This is the starting point for solving the problem.
Stand by the side of the road, put that thumb up, or wave your hands for help. Eventually, someone will hopefully stop.
You’ll probably have to repeat the hitchhiking to return to your car unless someone is good enough to drive you back which is rare.
At the gas station, buy a gas can that can hold at least 5 liters(1,5 gallons) of gas, 10 would be even better if you can carry it back. Make sure there is enough gas to get you to the first gas station.
If by any chance you’re so unlucky that no one stops at all, prepare yourself for a walk. If you have to walk at night, make sure to make yourself visible on the road.
6. DON’T OVERCRANK THE ENGINE
So, presuming you have found gas one way or the other, pour it into the gas tank.
Once the gas is poured, try starting the engine. Since the fuel system is completely dry and filled with air, be prepared that the engine won’t start immediately in most cases.
To avoid depleting the battery and getting into even more trouble, first, try turning the ignition on and off a couple of times so the fuel pump can prime fuel in the system.
More importantly, avoid long and heavy cranking. Instead, do short bursts of cranking. If everything is OK, the car should start after five or six cranks, sometimes even less.
Once the engine is running, you’re out of trouble and good to go. Head for the gas station and fill her up.
In the end, the best tip of all for what to do when you run out of gas.
Don’t get yourself in this situation in the first place.
This is one car problem that demands little attention but can cause a lot of trouble if it happens.
Even if the fuel gauge doesn’t work or there is some other malfunction at least be aware of this. Make more frequent stops at gas stations and try to keep the gas tank full.
For longer trips, think about safely storing some spare fuel in the trunk, it might be a lifesaver.
But if everything is OK and the fuel gauge works, just paying some attention to the gauge from time to time will surely keep you out of trouble.
All of this is a small price as opposed to being left stranded by the side of the road and desperately seeking and waiting for help.
Written by: Sibin Spasojevic
Former car technician, life-long car and DIY enthusiast, author for Despairrepair.com