Are you one of those people who gets gas as soon as your ’50 miles till empty’ alarm chimes, or do you like to play chicken with your gas gauge and wait until well after the gas light has come on?

With gas prices rising, it’s becoming more and more common for many people to wait as long as possible to fill up their gas tank. And you may be wondering how many miles can you drive on empty?

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Does the empty warning light actually mean empty? Or do you have a few more miles to go? What about when your dash tells you 0 miles till empty? What exactly does that mean?

The answer to the question how many miles can you drive on empty? doesn’t have a clear answer because the outcome will vary depending on your vehicle’s make and model. Some cars and trucks will travel farther than others once they tank’s on empty- especially hybrid vehicles.

If you’re driving a gas-only car or truck, and your fuel gauge is almost- or already on- “empty”, don’t panic just yet! You still have some reserves to get you to the gas station!

 

how car can you drive on empty? with close up of empty gauge

 

How Many Miles Can You Drive On Empty?

Generally speaking, most cars and trucks can drive between 25-50 miles after hitting empty. This means even once the gas light comes on, you still have plenty of time to get to a gas station and fill up.

Gas tanks are designed to have a reserve of 10-15% of it’s fuel capacity after triggering the empty signal or gas light on the dashboard.

So, depending on your fuel tank’s capacity, this could be 25-50 more miles. For example, if your car normally gets 300 miles on a full tank of gas, the gas light will come once you’ve used up about 90% of your gas. Leaving you at least 30 miles till the gas is 100% used up.

If you have a small, fuel efficient car- you’ll likely be on the higher end of the averages. If you have a large truck, you might be on the lower end of the averages.

Now let’s look at some specific stats for the more popular makes and models. Please note all calculations are based on reserve of 10%- I’d rather give you a low estimate and prevent you from running out of gas and getting stranded!

Toyota Corolla: The Toyota Corolla has a gas tank that’s about 13.2 gallons. It’s reserve is about 10%, giving your 1.3 gallons of gas after the gas light has come on. So, you can drive about 40-52 miles on empty (using the average MPG).

Volkswagen Jetta: The Jetta also has a gas tank that’s 13.2 gallons, giving you approximately 1.3 gallons after the gas light turns on. You can drive a Jetta about 37-55 miles on empty.

Toyota Camry: The Camry has a 15.8 gallon gas tank, giving you about 1.6 gallons after the gas light has turned on. You can drive a Camry about 44-62 miles on empty.

Honda Accord: The Accord has a 14.8 gallon gas tank, giving you about 1.5 gallons after the gas light has turned on. You can drive an Accord about 45-57 miles on empty.

Honda Civic: The Civic has a 12.4 gallon gas tank, giving you about 1.2 gallons after the gas light has turned on. You can drive a Civic about 39-50 miles on empty.

Ford Fusion: The Ford Fusion has a 16.5 gallon gas tank, giving you about 1.6 gallons after the gas light has turned on. You can drive a Fusion about 36-54 miles on empty.

Ford F150: The F150 has a 23 gallon gas tank, giving you about 2.3 gallons after the gas light has turned on. You can drive an F150 about 41-55 miles on empty.

Ford Explorer: The Explorer has a 20.2 gallon gas tank, giving you about 2 gallons after the gas light has turned on. You can drive an Explorer about 42-56 miles on empty.

Chevy Silverado: The Silverado has a 24 gallon gas tank, giving you about 2.4 gallons after the gas light has turned on. You can drive a Silverado about 45-52 miles on empty.

Kia Soul: The Soul has a 14.3 gallon gas tank, giving you about 1.4 gallons after the gas light has turned on. You can drive as Soul about 40-49 miles on empty.

Dodge Ram 1500: The Ram has a 26 gallon gas tank, giving you about 2.6 gallons after the gas light has turned on. You can drive an Accord about 52-65 miles on empty.

If you happen to have a hybrid vehicle you’ll be able to drive even farther on empty due to the fact that your car gets better gas mileage.

But regardless of what vehicle you drive, it’s best to learn to fill up your tank as soon as possible after the gas light comes on- or even before the light comes on. It’s not worth the risk, stress, and embarrassment running out of gas on the side of the road can cause. Running out of gas doesn’t come without other consequences to your car as well.

 

close up of fuel gauge on empty

 

What Happens When You Run Out Of Gas?

When your car runs out of gas the engine will begin to run poorly. You might notice a lack of power- and that’s your sign to get to the side of the road before your engine cuts out completely.

If you don’t recognize these signs, your engine will shut down and your car will stall and leave you stranded at the place where it died.

Mechanically, running out of gas can also cause damage to the fuel pump.

Running with a low fuel level consistently can cause accelerated wear on the fuel pump. The fuel pump uses gasoline to to cool and lubricate itself. If you let your car run out of gas, or even very low on gas, there’s not enough fuel to perform these functions and the fuel pump could potentially overheat or fail.

Your fuel pump could also begin pulling up any debris or sediment from the bottom of the tank. This can clog the fuel pump strainer or fuel filter.

 

person filling up gas tank on car with a red gas can

 

Is It Bad to Drive With the Gas Light Turned On?

As I have stated above, the gas light turns on when there is approximately 10% of your fuel left. That means it’s not 100% empty yet. But the gas light serves as a warning that you should get to the gas station as soon as possible to prevent running out of gas.

So, while driving with the gas light on for a little while won’t hurt anything, it’s always better to prevent running out of gas- and all the problems that can come with it- before it happens.

So do yourself a favor and fill up as soon as that light tells you to!