If you are in-tune with your car like most people, you know exactly when it’s time to fill up your gas tank. Once the “idiot light” comes on, you know just how much further you can drive before finding yourself stranded on the side of the road.
You feel a sense of pride being frugal by using every last drop of fuel from your tank. But what if this isn’t as smart as you think? What if saving a few cents isn’t worth risking the health of your vehicle?
Riding on Low is Bad for Your Car
Driving on low is actually quite dangerous for your car. But what constitutes a low gas tank? Many leading experts say that you should always have at least one-fourth a tank of gas at all times. Dipping below this threshold can cause more problems than suspected.
Your catalytic converter is responsible for reducing the emissions of exhaust at an appropriate level. Continuously driving your car with less than a quarter tank of gas will eventually damage your catalytic converter, and having it replaced or repaired can be very costly.
Small particles can often find a way into your tank. If you drive around with low levels of fuel, these particles or debris will settle at the bottom of your tank. As your fuel pump works hard to suck up every last bit of gas left, these unwanted particles will come along for the ride. This could cause damage to your fuel pump or even your air filter.
Some cars have their fuel pumps located in the gas tank. In these models, gas can also serve as a type of insulation for your fuel pump. If the gas levels in your car are too low, the gas can’t serve as a coolant, causing the fuel pump to become overheated. This will cause it to wear out much quicker forcing you to replace it earlier than expected.
Protect Your Car by Giving it Enough Gas
Sometimes running on low cannot be prevented. You may get lost, or sit in traffic longer than expected, or even forget to fill up due to a busy week. Driving your car with less than a quarter tank of gas every now and then will not harm your car. Just don’t make it a habit by continuously neglecting your gas tank.
Make sure you fill up your tank completely, even if you aren’t going on a long trip. Having to stop less frequently will result in you not forgetting to fill it up properly. It’s also a good idea to view the quarter line of your gas meter as the new “idiot light.”