You are not likely to read this in an owner’s manual, but driving “on fumes” can result in a premature death of the fuel pump and need for fuel pump replacement. Women’s Car Care Seminar by AC Delco recommends that you stop for gas any time the tank is less than 1/3rd full. Personal safety experts advise keeping the tank at least 1/2 full at all times, so if there is an emergency, you can travel considerable distance without stopping for gas. If you’ve seen stop-and-go traffic and gas lines in hurricane zones, you know that this is good advice.
The technical reason not to drive with a near empty tank is that the fuel pump is cooled by being immersed in the fuel tank – if the fuel is low, then the fuel pump is not cooled to the proper temperature, which accelerates its demise.
If the fuel pump has to draw the last of the fuel, it will also ingest moisture and any deposits from the bottom of the tank (gasoline is lighter than water, so moisture and any impurities settle near the bottom of the tank). Ingesting moisture and impurities can damage fuel filter and the fuel pump as well. Sometimes, when the fuel is really low, you may hear the fuel pump generate a whining sound – yes, it is “whining”, asking for more fuel.
So keep your tank at least 1/3 full and avoid premature fuel pump replacement expense (an added bonus is that you are unlikely to ever run out of gasoline). However, should it happen that the fuel pump fails, or your vehicle has issues accelerating or maintaining power, call Fremont Auto Center – our nationally ASE certified technicians will find the root cause of the problem and fix it - and if turns out that the fuel pump is at fault, we can get it replaced and get your car back on the road. We back our repairs with a 24 months / 24,000 miles warranty.