How Far Can You Drive When the Fuel Warning Light Comes On?

As a driver, there are few things scarier than when the fuel light comes on – especially when you are miles from your destination on an unfamiliar road. But don’t panic, as chances are you’ve still got enough left in the tank to get you to a fuel station.

If you’d like the peace of mind of knowing roughly how far you can still drive when the fuel light comes on, we can help. We’ve put together a list of cars and how long they can drive for when low on fuel, so you can get a sense for how far you can travel before running out.

These distances are only there as a guide and you should always be sure to fill up as soon as you can after seeing the fuel light. In fact, we’d always discourage driving with a near-empty tank – for reasons we cover below.

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How Far Can You Drive When Low on Fuel? Comparing Popular Car Models

The distance you can drive when the fuel light comes on depends on a range of factors – including the make and model of your car, how you drive, and how much weight you’re carrying. This makes it impossible to give an exact figure.

Car manufacturers understand that a lot of people wait for the fuel light before filling the tank. That’s why you get two low-fuel warnings – steady on and flashing – to indicate when it’s time to fill up and when you’re about to run out.

You’d think, given these warnings, that it would be hard to run out of fuel. But amazingly, over 800,000 motorists a year breakdown due to running out of petrol or diesel.

To help make sure you’re not one of them, we’ve taken some of the UK’s best-selling cars and found out how far each can drive when fuel is low. It’s worth remembering, though, that these are just rough estimates, as driving conditions and driving style will obviously have an impact. So, don’t take them as gospel and always fill up as quickly as you can when the fuel light comes on.

Use the tool below to quickly find out the average distance your car can travel when it’s low on fuel. We’ve tried to include as many cars as possible, but are sorry if your exact make and model doesn’t appear.

Is It Illegal to Run Out of Fuel?

Running out of fuel is every driver’s worst nightmare. But aside from the embarrassment and inconvenience, many people don’t know that it’s also illegal.

If you run out of fuel where it causes disruption, say on the motorway, the police could issue you with an on-the-spot fine of £100 and three penalty points. That’s because it falls under ‘careless and inconsiderate driving’ – other examples of which include speeding and road rage.

And it gets worse. If the police have evidence to show that you contributed to an accident by running out of fuel, you could be hit with a £5,000 fine and nine penalty points. And all because you ignored the warning light and didn’t get to the pumps fast enough – yikes.

So, the next time your fuel warning light comes on, don’t push your luck. With apps like Google Maps making it easier than ever to quickly find the nearest fuel station, you’ve no excuse but to keep things topped up.

frustrated driver

Can Running Low on Fuel Damage Your Car?

We know that Redex fans care about the health and performance of their cars. That’s why it might shock some to learn that running out of fuel, or driving with a very low tank, can actually cause damage to the engine and fuel system.

Over time, small particles of dirt and corrosion form in the fuel tank, sinking to the bottom. When you start running low on fuel, these particles are drawn up the fuel lines and into the injectors, where they cause blockages which hamper engine performance.

If you continue driving to the point where your car runs out of fuel, you could inadvertently cause significant damage to the fuel system, particularly the fuel pump and fuel filter. This, coupled with the potential for fuel injector blockages – not to mention the fact that it’s illegal to run out of fuel – are reason enough to always make sure your fuel tank is kept full way above the red line.

What are your thoughts on running out of fuel? Has it ever happened to you? We’d love to hear your stories, so get in touch today on the Redex Club Facebook group.

If you’re worried that running low on fuel may have harmed your engine, you can count on Redex. Our innovative petrol and diesel fuel system cleaners provide an intensive clean for your car’s fuel system and fuel injectors, removing harmful deposits which reduce engine health and performance. For more information, visit the homepage.

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