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So, how does a car act when it runs out of gas? From a common man’s point of view, when a car runs out of fuel, it should stop working until the gas tank is refilled.
However, that’s not how it works in most cases; different cars act differently when they are been driven without fuel.
But, regardless, when your car runs out of fuel and you don’t stop to refill gas immediately, probably, you’re almost home, and so you want to complete your trip before refilling gas, such an act can cause significant damages that would burn a hole in your pocket.
Simply put, running out of gas can cause engine damage.
How Does a Car Act When It Runs Out Of Gas?
When a car runs out of gas, below are the few things that might happen to the car:
1. Loss of Power
Yeah, loss of power or you can call it, loss of acceleration. Apparently, an automobile requires fuel for the engine to fire on. In modern cars, gas is transported from the tank to the engine through the fuel pump and injectors.
The moment gas finishes in the tank, the pump won’t find anything to push to the injectors, which in turn “injects” the fuel into the engine.
When this happens, you would notice that your car won’t fire up again, regardless of how hard your match the gas/accelerator pedal.
That said, if you notice a significant drop in how you accelerate, it could be that you’re running on low fuel, and if you don’t fill it up as soon as possible, you’d run out of gas and that could be a frustrating situation.
2. The Engine Would Quit Running
Modern cars use fuel injectors that integrate with a fuel pump to supply fuel to the engine. When you run out of the supply, the fuel cycle from the pump to the filter to the injectors and other components would stop; thus, causing the engine to stop running.
However, the engine would finally stop running, you must have noticed that your car is gradually stopping even though you’re matching the brakes. It would keep stopping gradually until you hear a cranking sound (not applicable to all vehicles), and then it stops.
The sad part of this situation is the fact that most modern cars are too connected. What does this mean? It means the components of modern cars are too connected to one another, in the sense that when one component fails, the rest are liable to fail, too, if urgent action is not taken.
That said, running out of fuel could seize the flow of your power steering fluid; hence, deactivating power assist steering and/or power assist brakes. In fact, virtually everything in your car would stop functioning when there’s no fuel.
If the engine stopped on its own due to lack of fuel, there are chances that a couple of things may get damaged, most especially if you had a cranking sound before the car stopped.
So, after refilling gas, it is advisable to prime the engine before trying to start the car properly and continue with your journey.
3. The Car May Jerk
This doesn’t apply to most cars, but there have been complaints from drivers that their vehicle jerked when it ran out of fuel. Actually, this action is more like an aftermath of running out of gas.
What do we mean? We’ve mentioned quite several times in this article that running out of gas can damage some components in your fuel delivery system, which comprises the fuel/gas lines, fuel pump, etc.
Now, when there’s no fuel in a vehicle and you keep driving it, chances are that gas lines or fuel pumps could go bad, and when this happens, it could cause your car to jerk, even after the gas is refilled.
The jerk is a result of insufficient fuel delivery into the engine due to a bad/damaged fuel delivery component.
4. It’d Keep Moving If You Drive A Hybrid
Yes, if you drive a hybrid, your car automatically switches to the alternative driving force, battery. Regardless, you should refill the gas tank as soon as possible to avoid being stranded on a remote road when the battery finally runs down.
It is imperative to reinstate that running out of gas in a vehicle that functions fully/mostly with fuel would cause you to lose all “power” assistance with the steering and braking; the steering becomes tougher to turn and your pedals would show some level of resistance.
But, power windows will still work, as well as other electrical accessories, until the battery is finally drained and everything stops working – you shouldn’t allow things to get to this point.
Possible Things That Could Happen When You Run Out Of Gas
- Your fuel filter or injectors get clogged
- The fuel pump may be badly affected and need replacement
- Injectors may go bad and need replacement, too.
- Your car may not start even when you refill gas, and this can be linked to damage in the engine bay.
- You may end up spending more money than you would have used in refilling your gas. In other words, you should not allow your car to run out of gas.
- Depending on the car, nothing may happen, you may only need to refill gas and start the car again without even priming the engine.
- Can A Car Drive With A Bad Fuel Pump?
- Common Problems After Changing Fuel Pump
- Bad Torque Converter Vs Bad Transmission
- How Long Can an Engine Run Without Oil Before Damage?
- Can I Wash My Engine While It’s Hot?
In summary, “how does a car act when it runs out of gas?” Apparently, the car would stop on its own, but before then, there might be other scenarios you may experience.
If your car did run out of gas unexpectedly or way too fast than expected, it could be that your gas delivery line is leaky, or something else is damaged.
Finally, it is advisable to avoid running out of gas, then looking for solutions about what you can do when you run out of gas.
You’re risking costlier repairs if you allow your car to frequently run out of gas. Ensure that the fuel gauge on your dashboard is functioning properly; it’d help you to monitor gas levels while on a trip.