There are affiliate links on this article. If you make a purchase through any of the links, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
No one prays for it, but it does happen, and most times, unexpectedly. Running out of gas while driving can cause damages to your car. But then, you shouldn’t panic, the damage doesn’t happen immediately.
So, what happens when your car runs out of gas? In most cases, the car would gradually come to a stop, and you won’t be able to start it up until you refill the gas tank.
Yes, that’s the plain part you should know, but there are actually other critical things that could happen to your car due to the scenario. This article explains what to do when your car runs out of gas.
What Happens When Your Car Runs Out Of Gas?
A quick summary of this question is that your car would gradually come to halt. But there are actually series of actions that must have occurred before the car finally stops.
At first, the fuel indicator in your dashboard must have moved to the “E” side, which literally means “Empty.” While that does not mean the gas in your fuel tank is completely finished, it’s a sign that you should refill the tank as soon as you can.
Now, if you ignore this and keep driving, at some point, when the fuel must have gone down completely, you’d start noticing signs like a consistent engine backfiring, sputtering, loss in power, intermittent power surges, and other signs too.
While all these start to happen, the car is also giving you a chance to find a safe place to pull over before the engine would completely stop. Once the engine stops, the hydraulic power to your brakes and steering stops.
This implies that you won’t be able to apply the brakes any longer, and steering would be very difficult at this time – the car would now drive itself till it stops moving.
If you ignored all the signs till this point, then you’d most likely be in the market to replace certain components.
Possible Damages When of Running out of Gas
The fuel delivery system in modern cars is more sophisticated than ever. Nevertheless, the most component to be affected because you ran out of gas is the “Fuel Filter.”
Fuel filters are designed to trap debris and prevent them from escaping into the injectors or carburetors, or into the engine itself.
In this case, since the fuel in your gas tank finished completely, chances are that during the long process – before the car came to a complete stop – the fuel pump must have tried to suck fuel from the gas tank, and because there’s no fuel in there, it may such the debris and sediments left in the tank’s bottom.
These sediments can clog the fuel filter, or in worse scenarios – if the filter is already faulty – find their way to the fuel injectors and get them clogged.
If this happens, your car may not start again, even after refilling the gas tank. The inability of your car to start (in this scenario) is because some vital component in the fuel lines/system is clogged, or already damaged.
Well, asides from the fuel pump itself, the fuel filter, injectors, and other components that make up the fuel system are not really expensive to fix. Although, if it was the fuel injectors that got bad, you’d have to tow your car to a mechanic workshop.
On the other hand, if you got lucky and neither the fuel filter nor fuel injectors got clogged, chances are the fuel pump sucked air into the fuel lines since there was nothing in the gas tank, and the car hasn’t completely stopped.
In this case, you’d need to bleed the fuel lines for your car to start functioning the way it used to.
What You Should Do When You Run Out Of Gas
If you got caught up in a lonely – seemingly risky – road, to be on a safer side, you should call on someone to help you get fuel so you don’t leave your car behind, checkmating car theft possibility.
More so, it is advisable that you stop the car by yourself once it starts showing signs of running out of gas. This way, you’d get a safe place to pull over and refill your tank.
Notably, you should never allow your car to run out of fuel; always fill your tank if you’re setting on a long journey, and when the fuel indicator gets to the “Warning” side, drive into the nearest fuel station for a refill.
It’s better not to run out of fuel than running out of fuel and seeking solutions to how you can fix the damaged components. Well, sometimes, your car may still have fuel in the gas tank and still exhibit most of the signs explained above.
In this case, the culprit could be your battery. A dying car battery would typically exhibit the same signs as running out of gas.