Will Driving on Low Fuel Damage Your Car?

Source: Engineering Explained / YouTube

Everyone who has ever driven for any duration of time has experienced the frustration of running out of gas. Either a family member or friend ran out of fuel at an unexpected moment, or you went through the painful experience yourself.

Running out of gas is not only frustrating and perhaps embarrassing, but it may also be extremely harmful to your vehicle.

No matter how many times you’ve heard it, never let your automobile run out of gas. There are several reasons behind this.

Fuel Pump Damage

The fuel pump’s duty is to transport gasoline from the fuel tank via a fuel filter to the fuel injectors that will deliver the gasoline to the intake manifold.

To prevent contamination of the gasoline pump’s suction, a suction filter is fitted to the bottom of the tank. This filter can get clogged, causing the fuel pump to work harder, resulting in a decreased performance. This is more likely to occur when you’re close to running out of gas.

Source: fuelsafe

The fuel pump takes fuel from the bottom of the gas tank if your car is running and your fuel tank is low. At some point, the fuel pump will begin to suck air from the tank when the car runs out of gas.

The fuel pump is intended to keep itself cool and lubricated as it operates. If all it’s doing is sucking air, it’ll quickly overheat. Eventually, the engine will shut down because the vehicle isn’t moving, and no harm will be done.

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However, the gasoline pump can be damaged by forceful braking, speeding, or turning while driving on a low fuel tank. With the help of the pump’s baffles, the gasoline is drawn up, and the air is kept out. Because of the turbulence created by rough driving, less gasoline is available to be sucked in by the fuel pump. It’s more prone to fail since it takes in more air.

When handled with care, fuel pumps may last the lifetime of your vehicle. 

Engine Damage

When you’re running low on gas, your car’s engine may misfire if the gasoline only goes into one cylinder and not the other. What’s going on is that just the cylinder with fuel is combusting. Even though it’s highly unusual, this might do severe damage to your engine.

One of the most typical issues people run into is operating their car with the throttle open wide while the gasoline tank is low. If the fuel pump doesn’t obtain enough gasoline, your car’s computer tells it to run on a 12:1 or 11:1 air-to-fuel ratio. With so little fuel in the tank, the fuel pump cannot provide enough fuel.

Source: fastfordmag

In this situation, the air-fuel ratio will be even closer to 14:1, which causes the engine to operate hotter because of the lean mixture. Engine knocking results from a mixture that contains far more air than necessary.

Your car’s computer’s job is to ensure that the air-fuel ratio is within a safe range. However, the engine cannot operate at that ratio due to a lack of gasoline, increasing the risk of engine damage. The most straightforward answer is to avoid driving at high RPMs while your petrol tank is nearly empty.

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Catalytic Converter Damage

Source: Getty Images

The catalytic converter is built to withstand extreme conditions. Your car’s catalytic converter manages a wide variety of air-to-fuel ratios and exhaust temperatures when cleaning the exhaust of pollutants created by combustion.

However, it can be damaged if too much gasoline is pumped through it. It will soon overheat if a lean mixture of air and fuel is fed through it. This component is susceptible to damage from overheating.

Having a misfire due to the spark that initiates combustion is another issue to address. If the spark fails to ignite, all of the gasoline goes through the catalytic converter immediately.

Source: tuningblog

The catalytic converter may overheat if it is fed a gasoline mixture that contains too much air. However, this condition has a low chance of destroying the catalytic converter because there isn’t much gasoline in the gas tank, and it occurs in such a short time.

Keep in mind that running out of fuel or running the tank low on a regular basis might cause harm to any of these components. As a result, the risk of your vehicle being damaged is significantly increased by doing so. When it comes to protecting your car’s engine, fuel pump, and catalytic converter, it’s a good idea to be careful and not drain your fuel completely.

You could also watch the following video by Engineering Explained for further information about the topic:

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