How far can your vehicle travel once the gas light turns on?

As a driver, you have been in countless situations where the gas light indicator turns on signaling you that it is time to fill up.  The purpose for the warning light on the dashboard of your vehicle is a friendly reminder that you have limited driving time left before you need to visit the gas station.  How far can I coast on an empty tank? Can I make it to the next service station that is 75 KM away? These are all questions that circulate through our minds when that dreaded light is suddenly highlighted.

Driving your vehicle on empty can cause anxiety to drivers, especially when there is no gas station in sight. Luckily, the good people over at conducted some research regarding this topic for the top selling American cars of 2015.  Their study examined at which point the gas light turns on based on the amount of gas left in the tank, and how far your car can travel once that light illuminates.

The original study was conducted using imperial system metrics (gallons & miles) as illustrated in the graphic below:

Top 50 selling cars in America and how far you can drive them on a near empty gas tank

This graphic is very informative because we have all experienced a situation where we debate whether to fill up, or to push our vehicle a little bit longer once that gas warning light comes on. It is recommended that we fill up our vehicle with gas when we reach the 1/4 mark, but as you know, that is not always possible.

There are specific cars on the list which do not have information available as to when exactly the warning light is triggered.  The explanation from YourMechanic is as follows:

Note: For vehicles with “Not Available” listed for the point at which the warning light comes on, the light is triggered based on the distance to empty calculator having the listed number of miles remaining.

Which cars can drive the furthest on an “empty” tank?

There are a few takeaways from this study, but maybe the most important is which car can actually drive the furthest after the gas warning light comes on.  According to this information, the Nissan Altima takes the top spot with a range of 130-183 KM, followed by the Chrysler 200 with a range of 111-174 KM.

The worst cars in regards to travel distance on an empty tank goes to the Chevrolet Silverado at 40 KM, followed by a three-way tie between the Hyundai Elantra, Kia Optima, and the Kia Soul all at 48 KM.

Another thing we need to remember is that these are basic guidelines geared towards helping us know when to fill up. Please do not take this information as absolute fact.  We wouldn’t want you getting stranded on the side of the road because you thought you still had some juice left in the tank after the needle of your gauge hit empty.

For the converted table which shows how far your vehicle can go based on Canadian metrics, keep scrolling down the page.

Can you drive on gas fumes?

This is a very common saying, but ‘driving your car on fumes’ is not actually a thing.  Internal combustion in an engine is when the fuel and air mix.  The fuel is injected into a chamber by a pump, which is pumping gas.  Once there is not enough gas to pump, there is not enough fuel in the air to support combustion, therefore there is no such thing as running on fumes.

It is also worth noting that by leaving your tank empty, you can actually cause damage to your vehicle. There are bits of debris and gunk at the bottom of your vehicles fuel tank, and when the fuel level gets too low, those materials can be sucked up into the pump which can be harmful to your pump, or filter. Therefore, it is always a good idea to fuel up as soon as that light turns on.

How far can your vehicle drive once the gas light turns on (converted to Canadian metrics)

Since we are a Canadian company, and abide by the metric system in Canada, we have converted the above graphic above from gallons to litres, and from miles to kilometres. Remember:

1 gallon = 3.78541 litres
1 mile = 1.60934 kilometres.

Make Model Gas remaining when light turns on KM remaining when gas light turns on
Chevrolet Cruze 7.6 90-135
Chevrolet Equinox N/A 80
Chevrolet Impala 7.6 71-100
Chevrolet Malibu 7.6 80-116
Chevrolet Silverado N/A 40
Chevrolet Traverse 9.5 68-97
Chrysler 200 11.4 111-174
Ford Edge 1/16th remaining tank 56-129
Ford Escape 1/16th remaining tank 56-129
Ford Explorer 1/16th remaining tank 56-142
Ford F-150 1/16th remaining tank 56-129
Ford Focus 1/16th remaining tank 56-129
Ford Fusion 1/16th remaining tank 56-129
Ford Mustang 1/16th remaining tank 56-129
Ford Transit 1/16th remaining tank 56-129
GMC Sierra Denali 15.1 103-148
GMC Terrain N/A 80
Honda Accord 9.8 113-150
Honda Civic 7.2 95-129
Honda CR-V 8.7 100-126
Honda Odyssey 11.4 92-135
Honda Pilot 9.5 72-100
Hyundai Elantra N/A 48
Hyundai Santa Fe N/A 64
Hyundai Sonata N/A 64
Jeep Cherokee 11.4 106-150
Jeep Grand Cherokee 11.4 106-145
Jeep Patriot 7.6 74-97
Jeep Wrangler 10.6 76-93
Kia Optima N/A 48
Kia Sorento N/A 64
Kia Soul N/A 48
Mazda 3 8.7 111-151
Mazda CX-5 9.8 108-146
Nissan Altima 11.4 130-183
Nissan Rogue 11.4 126-159
Nissan Sentra 7.6 97-129
Nissan Versa 9.8 105-137
Ram 1500 11.4 101-140
Subaru Forester 9.8 100-134
Subaru Outback 9.8 105-137
Toyota Camry 9.8 104-146
Toyota Corolla 7.6 96-135
Toyota Highlander 11.0 93-116
Toyota Prius 6.1 122-130
Toyota RAV4 9.1 92-119
Toyota Sienna 11.4 87-121
Toyota Tacoma 11.4 101-121
Toyota Tundra 15.1 97-116
Volkswagen Jetta 7.0 92-137

Please note that this study did not use every vehicle for its research.  Only 50 popular vehicles were selected.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below!

By | 2017-08-23T10:12:48+00:00 August 22nd, 2017|Information, The411|

One Comment

  1. Five Star Motor Group September 10, 2017 at 5:54 pm - Reply

    A common question especially when you’re looking at a gas light! I didn’t realize there was actually a set of data to answer it – thanks for posting.

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