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How long can you drive with red light fuel?

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.

Quick Links

  • How Far Can You Drive When Low on Fuel? Comparing Car Models
  • Is It Illegal to Run Out of Fuel?
  • Can Running Low on Fuel Damage Your Car?

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.

Fuel Warning Light – How Far Can You Drive?

Most drivers fear the dreaded ‘Red Zone’ of the fuel gauge, but exactly how much fuel do you have left and how far can you drive when the fuel warning light comes on?

What happens when the fuel warning light comes on?
Fuel Warning Light

In reality nothing bad happens when your fuel warning light comes on. However, that doesn’t mean that you can just ignore it. The fuel warning light will usually come on when you have 10% or less fuel in the actual tank. This is generally known as the reserve.

How far can you drive on empty?Fuel Warning Light

Unfortunately there is no definitive answer to this. In some modern cars there will be an estimated range of what is left in your tank. However, this is just an estimate and will be entirely dependent on road conditions and driving style.

As a rough guide you should assume that once the fuel warning light shows you have between 20-50 miles. One thing is certain though, if you don’t fill up with fuel soon you won’t be going anywhere fast.

To get an idea of how far you might be able to go when the fuel warning light comes on visit

Dangers of running on empty

You’ve probably never considered this, but driving with an empty tank can be dangerous for a few reasons.

When the fuel level in the tank drops too low, the car will start to draw any debris from inside the tank itself into the fuel system. This can damage both the fuel filter and pump. Worst case scenario a chunk of debris could be pushed into the actual engine causing several hundred pounds of damage.

Modern diesel cars tend to have a safety mechanism, which will shut down the vehicle before any serious damage can occur. Unfortunately petrol vehicles don’t have this safety feature.

Getting stranded

Whether your 1 mile or 100 miles away from your destination, getting stranded at the side of the road is a situation no one wants to be in. Especially if you’re on the motorway with cars and lorries flying past you at speed. The best way to avoid getting stranded is to make sure you have enough fuel to reach your destination.

Surprisingly nearly 50,000 of the AA and RAC’s callouts last year were for stranded vehicles. This is a huge number when you consider how easily these could be avoided.

Getting the most out of what’s left in the tank
Fuel Warning Light

If the fuel warning light comes on and you’re not sure of distance to the next petrol station try some of these fuel preserving tactics.

– Reduce wind resistance by closing any windows, this includes the sunroof if you have one.
– Drive with a light foot and try to maintain a constant speed.
– Drive at 40mph, as long as this is within the speed limit.
– Turn off all electric accessories and unplug any charging devices, such as phones.
– Check your tyre pressures, ideally you should have done this before setting off on a journey. Under inflated tyres can actually increase fuel consumption.

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  • February 17, 2017
  • Patrick McDonnell
  • No Comments

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Exactly how far can you drive when the ‘fuel low’ warning comes on?

Photo / supplied

Do you know how far can you drive your car with the ‘low fuel’ warning light illuminated on the dashboard to tell you you’re soon going to run out of petrol or diesel?

Often referred to as fuel light roulette, it’s a game most drivers would have played — the petrol gauge drops into the red and the yellow pump icon glows to remind you to visit a filling station. But do you know how far you can go, in general, when the warning that light comes on? New research claims to reveal all, including which models have the longest and shortest fuel reserve ranges.

More than a third of motorists think they will only be able to drive another 30km from when the ‘fuel low’ light illuminates before running out of juice, according to a fresh UK-based survey of 1,000 Britons by comparison site Compare the Market.

However, the reality is that in most cases you can drive more than double that distance — and in some vehicles almost four times as far. And the study highlighted which popular models can travel the longest — and shortest — ranges when the fuel situation hits the reserve.

The comparison website compared the stats for 96 volume-selling cars from 29 different manufacturers to identify which could get you to a fuel station that’s miles away and the ones that will leave you stranded at the roadside not long after the warning light coming on.

And the study highlighted which popular models can travel the longest — and shortest — ranges when the fuel situation hits the reserve.

The comparison website compared the stats for 96 volume-selling cars from 29 different manufacturers to identify which could get you to a fuel station that’s miles away and the ones that will leave you stranded at the roadside not long after the warning light coming on.

Using miles per gallon and fuel tank capacities, Compare the Market estimated how far these model can keep going with the fuel warning light on before chugging to a standstill. There is — of course — no guarantee for how long the range will be, especially as you need to factor in traffic, driving style and how much weight is in the vehicle.

The model with the longest reserve range — based on the figures — is the Volkswagen Passat. Compare the Market calculated that it can go for a staggering 120km with the fuel warning light glowing.

Volvo’s V40 hatchback and Ford’s Mondeo family car can also — just — exceed 110km before they conk out. At the opposite end of the spectrum, BMW’s high-performance M3 has the shortest reserve range, guzzling through the remaining fuel capacity 51km after the warning light flashed up.

Many small cars feature in the list of 10 cars with the shortest low-fuel ranges.

Despite being frugal, the small tanks in models including the Kia Picanto, Fiat 500, Mini hatchback, Citroen C1, Peugeot 108, Nissan Juke and Ford Fiesta limit their mileage when the fuel gauge hits the reserve.

Popular models with the shortest reserve ranges

1. BMW M3: 51.48km
2. Kia Picanto: 51.72km
3. Fiat 500: 59.77km
4. Mini Cooper: 60.39km
5. Mitsubishi Shogun: 61.52km
6. Jaguar XK: 61.76km
7. Citroen C1: 62.37km
8. Peugeot 108: 62.98km
9. Nissan Juke: 65.72km
10. Ford Fiesta: 66.09km

— Daily Mail

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