How Far Can You Drive Your Car on Empty?

My Dad used to give me a roasting! "Don't you ever let your car go below quarter tank!" He explained that the debris that collects at the bottom of the fuel tank, gets sucked into the fuel line when you drive a car on nearly empty.

Now years later, I realise he was correct. It was a bigger issue in the old days when carburetors were prevalent.  Tiny dirt particles could be sucked into the carbs and cause all sorts of splutters and spurts!

However even in newer cars, frequent driving on empty can do damage to your catalytic converter, which may then need to be repaired or replaced. Even the simple act of driving with a low amount of fuel in your tank can damage your fuel pump, as any debris or contamination in the fuel (which naturally settles at the bottom of the tank), will be sent through your fuel pump when the tank is nearly empty.

Cool, But How Far Can You Go?

However of even greater importance, especially in South Africa, is that you don't want to get stranded on a lonely, dark road with an empty fuel tank! Yeah - I'm guilty as charged on this count too 🙁

I've had friends bail me out on a couple of occasions when my car ran empty. Luckily it wasn't too far from civilisation and went without incident.

So we have a handy resource for you to keep in mind when driving. The chart below will give you an indication of just how far you can drive after your low fuel indicator lights up. The actual tests were done by American online car mechanic site: YourMechanic. Naturally, they surveyed cars from the American market. The likes of the Ford F-150 and Toyota Tundra, which we're not so lucky to have in Mzansi. From their original list, we picked out models that are common to us and reproduced on the chart below. The figures are intended simply as a guide and should not be taken as gospel!

Make

Model

Fuel remaining
when reserve indicator
lights up

Kilometers remaining
on reserve

Toyota

Camry

9.8 lts

104 - 140 kms

Toyota

Corolla

7.6 lts

96 - 135 kms

Honda

Accord

9.8 lts

112 - 149 kms

Honda

CRV

8.7 lts

99 - 125 kms

Honda

Civic

7.2 lts

94 - 128 kms

Toyota

Rav4

9 lts

91 - 119 kms

Chev

Cruze

7.5 lts

90 - 135 kms

Ford

Focus

1/16th of tank

56 - 128 kms

Nissan

Sentra

7.6 lts

96 - 128 kms

Subaru

Forester

9.8 lts

99 - 133 kms

VW

Jetta

7 lts

91 - 136 kms

Toyota

Prius

6 lts

122 - 130 kms

Mazda

3

8.7 lts

111 - 151 kms

About the author

Durban South Toyota

Durban South Toyota is a flagship Toyota Dealer in South Africa. From humble beginnings in Rockview Road, Amanzimtoti, we have steadily grown to where we are today. Visit us at 2 Prospecton Rd, to experience a difference, in Service Excellence. Post by Zakaria Desai, IT & Social Media Manager.

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