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Breakdown companies such as the AA, Greenflag and the RAC spend thousands of pounds rescuing motorists because they run out of fuel. A motorist’s idea of what constitutes running out of fuel and how far drivers would go before refueling varies.  We have collated some interesting examples.

Motorist’s idea of running out of fuel

Who admits to filling up their car once a week or at worse, every few days? I know some people who top up every £5.00 worth of fuel, and I know a lot who fill their tank to the brim before refueling again.

There are those who refuel when they hit the half-tank mark and then there are the chancers who will only refill when the red light turns on.

Some motorists admit to trundling on fumes before even contemplating to buy fuel. This is a very common practice, which is why we see many cars coming to a spluttering halt.

Is running out of fuel worth the hassle?

Really though, just how far can a person drive with their red light on? It all depends on the type of car, but generally, the average is fifty to seventy miles.

I have to admit; I once barely made it to the garage. My red light turned on, and the dashboard told me I had forty miles left. I thought I was safe, but it turned out I was not. I had a five-mile drive, and most of the road was a busy dual carriage way. I could not have been any more than half a mile away from the garage when my engine sadly cut out. I was stuck between two cars; traffic was heavy, and it was 27 degrees Celsius.

Luckily, I was going downhill so the tilt helped me to restart my engine. My engine cut out at least four times; my palms and forehead poured sweat of fear at the thought of holding other drivers up and having to walk to the garage. Of course, there was also the walk back to my car carrying a fuel canister in the blazing hot weather that haunted me.

Was it worth running out of fuel and driving on dregs? I had a close call to having to walk in sweltering heat, but many are not so lucky. I would definitely not take that risk again so I now refuel as soon as the quarter tank gauge hits. Likewise, if I know I’m going on a long journey I will top up the tank regardless of how much is in it.

When the red light hits, it is not that easy to judge when you will run out of fuel. Modern diesel cars are the worst for suddenly cutting out; often, there is no warning sign. This sounds bad, but it’s not; it’s a management system that deliberately shuts your car down to save you money. With this mind, it is wise to never wait until you are driving on fumes. With that lesson learned, top up immediately as soon as the warning light comes on.

Dangers of running out of fuel

With any car, old or new, the warning light is your final cautionary warning. Challenge your mindset to get in the habit of thinking that it is for your benefit to refuel otherwise there could be consequences.

It’s not just about walking miles to a garage or calling out the AA. When you drive on dregs, it can seriously harm your car. The fuel pump can dry out, and the fuel filter will collect a lot of debris, which can cost hundreds to repair. The best advice I can give is to develop the habit of checking when your tank is at the quarter mark point and fill it up!