How Far Can You Drive on an Empty Tank of Gas?

We’ve all felt that twinge of anxiety when your gas light comes on and you are nowhere near a gas station. Have you ever wondered how far you can actually drive with your tank on empty? Is it bad to drive with low fuel? Turns out, the answer varies greatly with every car.

Gas Me Up

As a general rule, most cars have about 2.5 gallons left in the tank when the gas light comes on. So depending on how many miles you get per gallon, you can probably go anywhere between 30-60 miles. Another factor to consider is the kind of traffic you’re in, because stop-and-go traffic and high speeds will lower your miles per gallon compared to open highway driving.

This helpful chart from YourMechanic lists the 50 best-selling cars in the US, along with the amount of gas left in the tank when the low fuel light comes on and the approximate amount of miles you have left to drive. The chart is so handy even if you don’t drive one of the listed cars because it gives you a good overview of the difference between different types of vehicles. Here's a look at how far you can get on a low fuel light in one of the Top 10 best-selling cars in the US:

drive on empty tank

Is it bad to drive with low fuel?

While it may sometimes be unavoidable to keep your gas tank full, due to high gas prices, low funds, or even just a long stretch of a road trip, it’s not a good idea to consistently drive around with the empty light on. The gas in your car cools down the electric fuel-pump motor, meaning that when your tank is low, the pump can suck in air, creating heat and wearing down the fuel pump prematurely. This can end up costing some big bucks to repair.

And if you actually do run out of gas? This causes even bigger issues with your catalytic converter. Having to replace any part of your car is not cheap, and you’ll end up kicking yourself for not just stopping to pump some gas. A good rule of thumb is to always try to keep at least ¼ of a tank of gas, in case you get stuck in unexpected traffic or for an emergency.

Photos in order of appearance: Unsplash , Giphy, YourMechanic

Krista Doyle
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