San Carlos Auto Repair

Call Us: (650) 595-2277
Mon - Fri: 7:30 AM - 5:00 PM | Sat: 7:30 AM - 2:00 PM

How many miles can I drive with my gas light on

How far can I drive with my gas light on before running out of gas?

Question posted by Chris B. regarding his 1997 Land Cruiser.

I rarely look at my gas guage which means my "gas low" warning light comes on frequently.  

How far can I drive with the gas light on?

When your gas light comes on, you have 30-50 miles (vehicle dependent) before you run out of gas and there may also be other adverse effects on your automobile. (I hope you don't learn this lesson the hard way!)  Lets dive a little deeper and explore this:

What happens when I run out of fuel?

Well there is the obvious, the car shuts off leaving you stranded. When the fuel runs out you risk pulling in dirty fuel (containing sediment) from the bottom of the tank, running the pump dry and/or setting a check engine light. But it is also important to be prepared if you find yourself with the gas light on and running out of fuel.

Chris, if this is a common thing for you we urge you to look at your gas gauge more frequently.  Also, if you happen to see the light come on here are some items you should consider.

Driving with the gas light on



1. What lane will you be in?

Answer:  Drive in a lane that allows you to exit out of traffic, in case your vehicle stalls.

2. Are you close to a busy street or road way where you can get help? 

Answer:  Get to a busy area which should allow for a better chance of help if flagging down help is required.

3. Did you see a "call box" or rest area?

Answer:  Pay attention to your surroundings for purposes of safety, help, shelter, warmth, and food.

4. Should you stay in your car or exit and walk for fuel?

Answer:  Exiting the vehicle could be risky. There are many people each year that get struck by motorists while broken down on the road. Exercise extreme caution. The rule of thumb is to stay in your vehicle until help arrives, especially if you are in the middle lanes or in a heavy traffic area.

How do I conserve gas when the gas light comes on?

Turn off all accessories and loads on the vehicle that are not needed to safely operate the vehicle:

  • Turn off your air conditioning
  • Turn off any unused electrical loads (radio, fans, DVD player, chargers, etc.)
  • Avoid heavy acceleration
  • Follow the posted speed limit (going faster will burn more fuel)

Do I need to do anything special when I fill the car back up with fuel?

The process of filling up the vehicle is the same but you will notice the starting process to be different. If you drive too long with the gas light on and run out of  fuel, the vehicle will pull air into the fuel lines. Fill up the gas tank (even a few gallons is okay) and crank the car. It will take longer than usual to start (up to 10 seconds of cranking) but the vehicle should start.

If the car doesn't start at this point, cycle the key off, wait 10 seconds, then try again. Don't pump the gas pedal (unless your car has a carburetor - usually a car older than 1985). If your car still doesn't start, you may have another problem besides running out of gas.

In closing, We advise you to drive as few miles as possible when the gas light comes on!

As always, if you have any further questions regarding the fuel system feel free to contact A+ Japanese Auto Repair Inc.

Adam S.

A+ Japanese Auto Repair - San Carlos Auto Repair - Ask A Mechanic.

A+ Japanese Auto Repair Inc.