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This Handy Chart Tells You How Many Miles You Can Drive on Empty

Road & Track logo Road & Track 9/2/2018 Brian Silvestro
Ever wonder how far your car can go when the fuel light come on?© Thomas Trutschel - Getty Images Ever wonder how far your car can go when the fuel light come on?

Ever wonder what that little low fuel warning dash light actually represents in your car? We've all been there. Sometimes it makes you think that there are just a few small drops in the bottom of the tank, that the car only has a few minutes until you're stranded and have to hike miles down the shoulder with a red can to get more fuel. 

Other times, you might want to risk it, to see just how far you can go with the light on before that first hiccup or sign of the car running out of gas. No matter what, it's not a perfect system. If you fill up too early, you'll likely be disappointed that you panicked and filled up, only to see you had a few gallons in the tank. If you wait too long and get stranded, well, you'll be even more disappointed.

Thankfully, this helpful chart can give you a pretty good idea of just how many miles are left when your tank reaches empty.

a close up of a device: How far can you drive a vehicle on empty© Your Mechanic How far can you drive a vehicle on empty

The chart, put together by YourMechanic, lists the 50 best-selling cars in the United States. The chart might be for the 2015 model year, but most new and older cars will be similar. There's also a trend to pay attention to if your car isn't listed: when the fuel light comes on, nearly every single car has two to three gallons of fuel left. For certain cars, and depending on how you drive, you could have nearly 100 miles until you're literally running on fumes.

That's done on purpose. Automakers are conservative with the light to keep you from getting stranded, which makes sense. You'd be pretty ticked if the car ran out of fuel within seconds of the light popping on. And if you push it too far after the light, you can't say you didn't have a warning. But if you want to get the most out of a tank of fuel, don't stop for gas when the light comes on.

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This article was originally published on 9/12/2016.

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