What Happens When You Run Out of Gas?

What happens when you run out of gas? That depends partially on what kind of vehicle you own.

In the earlier days of automobiles, when you ran out of gas, you generally just put more in and got back on the road. There was always the chance in some vehicles of consolidated sludge in the tank jamming up the fuel system. However, in many cases, getting back on the road was as simple as refilling the tank.

The Problem with Modern Cars

With many newer vehicles, because the fuel in the tank is used to cool and lubricate a fuel injection system, owners of a car that has run out of gas may need to fix the fuel pump, a move that could cost several hundred dollars. In addition to being stranded, the vehicle may be damaged.

To help drivers avoid these situations, many cars have early low fuel warning systems. They also often stay running after the fuel guage has passed the critical "E" mark. One of the last signs that you're about to run out of fuel is a lack of power in the vehicle, hesitating and sounds of sputtering. Auto experts recommend that drivers avoid waiting to fill up the tank until it is empty. Leaving a healthy surplus in your tank may help give your vehicle extra longevity while preventing a long walk down the road with a gas can.