The Risks of Driving with Low Fuel Levels | Scott's Fort Collins Auto

The Risks of Driving with Low Fuel Levels

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Is it safe to drive your tank all the way to empty? While it can be interesting to see just how far you can go on a tank of gas, you shouldn’t risk it. Driving on a low tank of gas means that the pump doesn’t receive as much lubrication as it needs to efficiently run. When this happens, your car can overheat and cause other detrimental problems to your car’s fuel system. 

Dangers of Driving on Low Fuel

When you notice your fuel gauge nearing the E, you should fill up your tank sooner than later. If you drive on empty too often, you could cause serious damage to your car. AutoGuide explains that in your fuel tank your car has a fuel pump. The fuel pump sends fuel from the tank to the engine. With that being said, the fuel pump relies on gas in the tank to keep everything cool and lubricated. If you continue driving with low fuel levels, your car isn’t getting the lubrication it needs and runs the risk of overheating. Moreover, this means it could result in premature failure of the pump. Not only can this cause serious damage to your car, but serious damage to your wallet too. 

Additionally, your fuel pump also has a filter, which gets dirty at a much quicker pace when you drive on empty. When dirt and other debris make their way to the bottom of your tank, the filter can get blocked or take in dirty fuel, which can also cause significant damage. 

Understanding the Damage

If you still don’t know why you shouldn’t take driving on E seriously, this site explains the damage in further detail. 


When you get gas, it enters the fuel pump through a strainer before eventually making its way into the electric pump engine to begin cooling things off. If you’re low on fuel, your car can begin to cool using only air, which means it’s more susceptible to experiencing overheating. 

Corrosion of Fuel Injection System

They go on to explain that condensation can kick in with low fuel levels. This means that, due to the difference in temperatures, corrosion can occur in the fuel injection system. If this happens, your engine won’t operate properly. This is specifically a cause of concern for older cars that have tin tanks, unlike modern tanks that tend to be made of plastic. 

Clogged Filters

When the car is empty, it begins to draw residue from the bottom of the tank. This residue is a constant that is typically hidden by having a full tank. However, when you get to the bottom of the tank and all that’s left is residue, it can begin to clog up your filters and the electric pump. 

No Gas in Sight

If you forgot to fill up the tank on time and find yourself driving on E and struggling to find a gas station, pay close attention to your car. If you are driving and the low fuel light has been on for a good amount of time, make sure you do the most to ensure you and your car are safe. We suggest driving at lower speeds and turning off your car if you’ll be stopped for any significant period of time. 

Make an Appointment with Scott’s

If you went a little too far on a low tank of gas and notice your car has been acting funny, give Scott’s Auto a call. With two convenient locations in the Fort Collins and Loveland area, we are able to serve you quickly. We know that times are tricky right now, but that doesn’t mean car problems stop. For the time being, we are now offering the following FREE services:

  • No contact drop off and pick up
  • Pick up and delivery in the Fort Collins and Loveland area
  • Towing with repair (restrictions apply) 

Driving around with a damaged fuel system and engine can cause serious problems with your car. Don’t wait to get it looked at, call today: 970-682-4202 to set up any of these options that best fit your needs. We are here for you! 

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