Do you hesitate to fill your tank when you see the prices at the pump increase? At $1.30 a litre it can be tempting to put in a few dollars here and there while you hope for the price to drop so you can fill the tank. For those who put off the fuel stop until the last possibly moment, the cost could be even higher.

There is real potential of a costly mechanical problem when you run your car on an empty tank for an extended period of time. In the majority of late model vehicles the fuel pump is located inside the gas tank and it is responsible for pumping gasoline to the fuel injection system. Delivering fuel at high pressure generates a lot of heat, and the gasoline surrounding the fuel pump acts like a coolant to keep the pump from overheating.

When you run very low on fuel, this causes the pump to overheat causing it to wear prematurely and potentially fail. The repair costs from $300-$1000 — much more than the $1.30/Litre fill up.

Also, the effect of gravity on a full tank of gasoline assists in pushing the fuel through the pump which helps to prolong its life. The less fuel in the tank, the more the fuel pump needs to work to push fuel through the filter.

Whether it is the fuel pump or simply running out of gas, driving on an empty tank runs the risk of getting stranded or even in an accident when the car suddenly stops running–you could be in the middle of a busy highway or on a deserted road.

Luckily, these scenarios are preventable. Here are some tips to keep in mind to avoid running out of gas.

  • If you have a habit of $5 trips to the gas station, try filling your tank completely first. Then use your $5 to keep the tank topped up instead of barely full.
  • Fill up before heading out on a long trip or to work as you could get stuck in traffic and have a longer ride than intended.
  • Don’t rely on your car to tell you how many miles are left, as those range numbers can be deceiving and run down quickly, depending on how you drive.
  • We all want to save money at the pump, but instead of driving miles away to the gas station, use online tools or even smart phone apps to find the cheapest gas near your house. Search for Victoria at BC Gas Prices, or try Fuel Finder on your iPhone or Android phone.
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