How Far Can You Go With Your Fuel Light On?

With fuel prices rising, many are opting to see if they can stretch a tank a little longer, often to try find the cheapest spot to fill up. So how far can your car go with this light on? We guide you through the process and the risks.

Research conducted by CompareTheMarket suggests that most cars can on average can drive another 50 miles before they will run out of fuel. They have figured that cars made by Volvo can get approximately another 58 miles which was the best ranked. While MINI, which was ranked at the bottom, can only go another 37 miles on average with the fuel light on.

How Many Miles Do You Have Left Before Your Fuel Light Comes On?

The number of miles you have left will vary depending on make and model of your vehicle, your driving style and various other external factors. However, usually, the fuel light would come on if you are down to your last 10-15% of fuel in your tank. At this point, it’s very important to start planning a stop at the closest petrol station rather than holding out for one that may be cheaper but is further away.

Many newer vehicles have displays that will let you know exactly how many miles you have left in the tank so you can plan where the stop will be. If this feature is not available you will need to the approximate fuel left in the tank, fuel consumption, and calculate the number of miles you need to go to work out how long you can hold out.

Fuel Light Flashing

Your fuel light will begin flashing if the fuel level in your car is critically low and it is only a matter of time before you will run out of fuel. This could be the last 5% of your tank. It’s important at this stage to find a petrol station as soon as possible, or bring the vehicle to a safe location from where you can find fuel safely on foot, or have it brought to you by a recovery service or someone you know.

Petrol station at night

Potential Damage

There is a potential to damage the fuel system or parts of the engine if you’re down to the last drops of fuel. When a petrol engine runs seriously low on fuel it may start pulling debris and gunk from the bottom of the tank that runs the risk of clogging the fuel and intake systems.

For diesel engines this is a little different, as there are usually safeguards in place in the vehicle’s computer system that will prevent the vehicle from running the fuel tank completely dry. It’s, however, important to check your owner’s manual to find out if that is the case for your vehicle.

Running more regularly on an empty tank will be far more harmful to the vehicle’s condition. A one-time mistake may be forgiving but making a habit of it will likely see damage to the fuel systems and may result in expensive repairs.