How Long Can You Really Ignore Your Empty Gas Tank?

Here's how to avoid getting stranded in the middle of nowhere.

How Far You Can Drive When Your Empty Light Comes on
Photo: Marco Poggioli/Getty Images

It's happened to all of us. You're cruising down the highway with the windows rolled down—well into the perfect road-trip—only to realize your gas light is on. You immediately panic about whether or not your car is going to lurch to a sudden halt.

As it turns out, most cars have reserve gas in the tank when the light comes on. But it's a good idea to know just how many miles you can last before you're entirely out—as well as what can happen to your car when the tank gets that low.

Aside from overcoming the fear of being stranded in the middle of nowhere or having your car break down on the highway, it's also important to remember that traveling with the low fuel light on for too long (or driving on empty too often) can do some damage to the car itself—specifically to the catalytic converter or fuel pump.

Determining how many miles your vehicle can safely travel before you run out of gas depends on a few factors: the type of car you drive, the kind of driving you typically do, and current road conditions. The chart below outlines the range of how many miles you can drive once that low fuel light comes on for the 50 best-selling cars in the U.S. in 2015. Knowing this can keep your perfectly-planned trip from coming to a swift (and totally inconvenient) stop.

How Far You Can Drive When Your Empty Light Comes on

For more information about how far you can drive before you're really out of gas, check out this article at

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