What To Do If Your Car Runs Out of Fuel On Highway?

What should you do if you see your fuel light on the dashboard goes on?

Don’t panic, follow these steps!

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There may be a time when your car runs out of fuel on the highway. This happens when you overestimated the distance your car could travel with a nearly empty fuel tank. Or worst, you have accidentally missed the exit to the nearest petrol station!

What should you do if your fuel light goes on and there’s no service station in sight? Most drivers are highly inexperienced in how to handle this situation. Knowing what to do if your car runs out of gas can help make a stressful situation safer and less intimidating. Here we lay out a step guide that details what to do when you run out of fuel.

Can a car run without fuel?

An empty tank does not mean your car will not be able to run. The car’s tank has a fuel reserve of 4.5 liters after the fuel level indicator passes E.

As a general rule, you can probably go up to 60km once the empty tank light comes on before it shuts down completely. However, the distance varies greatly with every car.

*Note: Oil reserve in a tank of 4.5 liters is the standard set universally

Signs that indicate your car runs out of fuel

How do you know your car runs out of fuel? It will start displaying signs and symptoms of fuel starvation. The most obvious sign is that the fuel gauge will point to ‘E,’ e, which signals that your tank could be almost empty or is drinking up its fuel reserve. 

Meanwhile, other signs to look for is as followed:

  • Loss of Power – you can’t accelerate even though you press the gas pedal all the way
  • Jerking – your car has abrupt stops in between, while it struggles to move forward
  • Engine coughing – you can hear what sounds like coughing of your car’s engine

Should your car indicates any of these signs, please head to a petrol station to refill your fuel tank.

Essential steps in case your car stops

However, if there’s no station in sight, you should take note of these essential steps.

1. Get to safety

You should instantly steer your vehicle away from traffic once you see the ‘E’ lights. Find a safe spot to park by the road shoulder.

However, if you are unable to ease your vehicle safely to the roadside, switch on your hazard lights immediately. Then slowly bring your car to a stop and turn off the engine.

Then get out of your vehicle and stay a safe distance from it. Place a warning triangle about 10 feet from your car to alert other drivers to the fact that you’re immobilized.

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2. Determine your whereabouts

Assess your surroundings to locate where you are. Navigation apps like Waze come in handy in such situations.

However, it is normal to get disconnected in a remote area. If you are not familiar with the area, look for a road sign, or significant landmarks to pinpoint your whereabouts.

3. Find the nearest petrol station

You can walk to the petrol station:

  • If you can see a petrol kiosk at a safe walking distance from where you’re stranded or,
  • If your phone app indicates that it is not too far away

If the petrol station is too far, don’t take the risk to walk in the dark alone.

4. Call for assistance

Try to contact anyone to help you deliver some fuel to you or take you to a petrol station.

Plan to avoid your car running out of gas

Please ensure to fill your fuel tank to avoid your car from running out of gas on a long road trip.

Pinpoint ahead of time when and where you’re going to stop. That will keep you from passing the last gas station for several miles. It will also ensure that you get to your destination quickly and safely.


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