LOS ANGELES --- With gasoline prices over $4 a gallon, some drivers may be more likely to procrastinate those trips to the pump. But motorists who allow their vehicle's fuel tank to run near empty risk being stranded on the road and damaging expensive car parts, the Automobile Club of Southern California warns.
To date, the Auto Club has not observed an increase in the number of Southern California members calling for roadside assistance because of an empty fuel tank. But the organization still wants to remind motorists that running a vehicle's fuel tank dry is not only hazardous and inconvenient, but could present costly mechanical problems down the road, said Steve Mazor, manager of the Auto Club's Automotive Research Center.
Running your vehicle on low may cause sediment in the bottom of the tank to clog the fuel pump pickup, the fuel filter or the fuel injectors, he added.
"Letting the vehicle's level of fuel run down to empty may cause the electric fuel pump inside the tank to overheat," said Mazor. "The cost to replace this one component alone can be $500 or more in parts and labor."
Vehicles using diesel fuel have additional needs after running out of fuel. A special "priming" procedure to get fuel to the pump may require the services of an automotive technician.
Additional safety tips for motorists include:
-- Keep an eye on the fuel gauge; don’t let it run down to less than a quarter of a tank.
-- Be alert when your mileage drops so you can take corrective action to restore your vehicle’s fuel economy.
-- Don't touch or pump the gas pedal repeatedly when trying to start a vehicle that's run out of fuel.
-- Drive as fuel-efficiently as possible.
-- If you do run out of gasoline, pull off the highway or freeway as far to the right as possible. Call for help, or call the Auto Club for help if you're a member.
To help motorists prepare their vehicle and summer road trip, and also manage high gas prices, the Auto Club is offering a fuel saver inspection through July 31 at participating AAA-approved auto repair facilities. The fuel saver inspection is a general vehicle and visual under-the-hood inspection. Find the nearest participating AAA-approved auto repair facility online or call (800) 713-0003.