24 million American drivers continue to drive on empty

According to a recent AAA survey, 24 million American drivers continue to drive after the low fuel warning light turns on. Drivers who attempt to stretch a tank of gas too far could end up stranded. AAA cautions drivers that allowing their car to run out of fuel could put them in a potentially dangerous—and expensive—situation.

Potentially costly repairs

For most modern cars, the fuel pump is mounted inside the fuel tank. These pumps require a constant flow of fuel to lubricate and cool them during operation. Driving on low fuel levels may allow air to be drawn into the pump, which can cause overheating and increased wear that eventually leads to pump failure. Replacing a fuel pump can cost $500 or more in parts and labor.

Dangers of running out of gas

Running out of gas also can put a driver and passengers in jeopardy if the vehicle become immobilized on the roadway. Power steering and brakes can be lost if an engine dies, and drivers may end up stranded in the middle of a busy highway.


Fortunately, most out-of-gas situations can be avoided simply by keeping an eye on the fuel gauge.

Safe, smart ways to save on gas

AAA encourages drivers to make a few simple changes in driving habits that can greatly improve fuel economy. Instead of making quick starts and sudden stops, go easy on the gas and brake pedals. If there is a red light ahead, ease off the gas petal, and coast up to the light rather than waiting until the last second to brake. Once the light turns green, gently accelerate.

Speed is also a key factor in fuel usage. The fuel efficiency of most vehicles decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Take it easy on the road, and you will see significant savings at the pump.

Finding cheap gas before hitting empty

AAA recommends drivers always maintain at least a quarter tank of fuel. For drivers looking to save money when they fill up, AAA can help with several free tools.


Both the AAA TripTik® Travel Planner and the Auto Club App can help drivers plan efficient routes and locate nearby gas stations.