Why You Should Keep Your Gas Tank Full
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Why You Should Keep Your Gas Tank Full

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When you were a teenager and just learning how to drive, more than likely, your dad or grandfather gave you a lecture on keeping your gas tank full. It turns out they were right, but did they tell you what could happen to your vehicle if you failed to do so?  Let’s talk about why you should keep your gas tank full. 

Why You Should Keep Your Gas Tank Full

Why You Should Keep Your Gas Tank Full 

Many years have probably flown by since then, so ask yourself how well you follow their advice today. Chances are, you may have neglected their lecture time and need a reminder. It’s essential to avoid driving while your vehicle is nearly empty as we’ll discuss below.

It would help if you didn’t allow your car to run on fumes for several reasons. Here’s more on why you should keep your gas tank full. 

Empty Space Is Hard on Your Fuel Tank

If I were to ask you to go out and start your car, would your gas tank be more than half full? Hopefully, you aren’t notorious for often allowing the orange needle to rest on the letter E? You may not realize it, but driving with a near-empty gas tank may be causing more damage than you may know.  

Why You Should Keep Your Gas Tank Full

You may think that space in a gas tank is just space, but it’s not. That space is filled with air, which contains water vapor and can become condensation on the walls of your fuel tank. Condensation is terrible news on gas tanks for several reasons. That’s one of the reasons you need to make sure the fuel cap is fully tightened after you have a full gas tank.

It can cause rust and corrosion on vehicles with metal fuel tanks and allow water to mix with the gasoline, keeping your vehicle from running properly. In case you missed this post, How To Make Your Emergency Car Kit  

An Empty Tank Causes Costly Mechanical Issues

If you’re a habitual offender of constantly driving with your gas tank close to empty, you’re creating several other mechanical issues besides just with your gas tank. When there’s not enough gas in your vehicle, your vehicle’s fuel pump is likely sucking in air, allowing it to overheat and causing wear to the pump. This can be very costly for parts and labor if it were to go out. 5-Gallon Gas Tank

Why You Should Keep Your Gas Tank Full

Your vehicle’s fuel filter is another component that may become clogged and not work properly when there’s not enough fuel. Dirt, sediment, small debris, and gunk can accumulate at the bottom of your gas tank. They’re more likely to find their way into your fuel injector because the filter can’t handle it all.

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This is more common in older vehicles with metal tanks than in plastic ones, which are more common today.  

Besides all of these issues, running out of gas can also damage your engine in several ways. Having to replace an engine is far more costly than keeping a few extra bucks of gas in the tank. Just keeping your gas tank near full will help you save money on expensive repairs later on down the road.

This is Especially Important During the Winter 

Keeping your gas tank at least half full during winter is crucial when temperatures dip around or below freezing. This is especially true for older vehicles that may not have sealed fuel injection systems. The cold can cause the fuel lines to freeze if they happen to get moisture in those lines.

Why You Should Keep Your Gas Tank Full

This may prevent your vehicle from starting or possibly causing it to stall. Even if you own a newer car, it’s a good idea to keep your gas tank at least half full, just in case.  

Better Gas Mileage 

You may have been under the impression that the less fuel in your gas tank means less weight and, thus, better gas mileage. That’s not necessarily the case. Your vehicle’s fuel efficiency may be even worse because of the air caught in your fuel tank, which can evaporate your fuel more quickly. The weight of the gas in your fuel tank will have very little to do with your vehicle’s fuel economy.   

A Full Tank Keeps You On Time

Have you ever been stranded in the middle of nowhere because you ran out of gas? Or do you sometimes find yourself in a frenzy in the morning while trying to make it to work on time? When you go to start your car you discover you have no choice other than stopping at the nearest gas station for a quick $5 worth of gas? (I’d be lying if I said this has never been me.) These scenarios can cause you to be late and could easily be avoided. 

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Instead of always waiting to fill your gas tank when it’s crunch time with a low fuel level, make it a habit of filling up with a full tank of gas more often. I like the idea of filling up the night before when heading home from work. Even if you’re still at around half full, make a pitstop if you notice a low price. Not only does this keep the boss happy, but your car and pocketbook will appreciate it, too.  

Do It For Your Safety

Another reason to keep your gas tank full is to maintain safety while on the road. If you’re driving on the highway and your car shuts off, so will your power steering and brakes. That situation could be very dangerous or even deadly. There is also the issue of pulling to the side of the road, possibly in heavy traffic. Having to hike to the local gas station, and dodging other drivers while walking on the roadside is very dangerous.

There’s also the possibility of being stranded in very hot or cold conditions without heat or air conditioning, For your safety, don’t allow the needle to flirt with the letter E. Many of us have signed up for roadside assistance to help out in these situations, but there’s no reason to put yourself in that position.

There is also the issue of safety when it comes to traveling in severe weather conditions or during a natural disaster. Knowing you have gas in the top half of your tank gives you the confidence you’re ready to evacuate when necessary.

I’ve always reminded my kids and grandkids that tire pressure is also a safety factor, but proper tire pressure also provides better gas mileage for your vehicle. Usually, the recommended pressures are listed on the door panel of the driver’s door lining.     

Final Word

Instead of allowing your vehicle to suffer extra and unnecessary wear and tear or the possibility of getting stranded along the highway, always keep your fuel tank filled. It’s best not to allow your gas gauge to go below the 1/4 mark and no less than the 1/2 mark during the winter. You’ll be doing both your wallet and your vehicle a favor. I prefer 3/4 to full these days in my gas tank.

We have all learned a lot about being prepared in many different situations, so being prepared is a way of life for us. We must keep prepping, and we can get through anything because we are survivors. May God bless this world, Linda 

Copyright Images: Gas Tank Deposit photos_31571229_s-2019, Car on a snowy road Deposit photos_213102462_s-2019, Car Breakdown Depositphotos_68993207_s-2019, Man walking with gas can Depositphotos_68998443_s-2019

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  1. I can’t tell you how many times I preach this. During the virus, winter storms and during tornado season 3/4 is empty. During other times 1/2 is empty. Yes 3/4s means I have to fill up every other day or more but so be it. It’s my belief and lifestyle and it doesn’t hurt me in fact it makes me stronger.
    I used 1/2 tank during an F5 tornado once going 38 miles round trip. Things happen and the day the wildfire approaches at 45 mph isn’t the time to realize you didn’t fill up.

    Store extra with PRI-G. I’ve tested it to 5 yrs stored.

    1. Hi Matt, great tip on the PRI-G, I love your recommendations. I’m with you on the gas tank being our lifestyle to keep it full. We know how to be prepared. Linda

  2. Good advice, Linda. I sometimes allow my vehicles to get down to 1/4 tank but mostly they are above 1/2–and I have several gas cans full of stabilized fuel if needs be.

  3. Wonderful that you posted this. I am a believer in a full tank at all times. I live in a forest on a long dirt road. The very second I know there is a fire I am gone. I keep my Tahoe full of what I need to survive anywhere. If I see the dial go down a little I check my trip miles and never let them get over 50 miles . I tend to fill up just because I pass the gas station. I like it because each time I fill up it doesn’t take much money. I would like to say that as a beginning driver, so many years ago LOL, I liked filling the tank more after the gas tripped off when full. After two vehicles I learned that doing that messed up the sensor and it quit telling me how much gas I had in the tank. A mechanic told me to never do that and stop when the gas clicks off and it won’t happen again. It hasn’t.

      1. Oh, yes, Linda, the “other half!” When he was driving on his own, how many times did I find myself (maybe the next morning) driving on fumes to get to the nearest station! >:-(

  4. Yes, the old “keep the tank at least half full rule”. I believe in it, unfortunately for me, I often have to ration my gas and use it wisely, so it’s not possible to keep it nearly full all the time, but I usually just drive around my area, no more than 3-5 miles from home and there are plenty of gas stations around.

    When I fill the car, mine is small, it runs great and the weight actually makes the ride feel better. I am also supposed to run the 89 octane, but can compromise and use the 87 which is cheaper as long as I alternate. It really does run best on the 89, so I try to use that as it keeps everything running better.

    I also take advantage of Wawa’s free air to keep my tires filled to the right pressure and use those sturdy gas station paper towels to clean up my windows and wipers. Good visibility is a safety issue as well as proper tire pressure, plus the tires last longer and the vehicle tracts more accurately and the ride is smoother when proper PSI is maintained. If I had to evacuate, I hopefully will have tires ready, functional wipers and clean glass plus proper fluid levels, clean filters and everything in working order.

    1. Hi Frank, great comment as always. You are so right about the tire pressure. AND the gas octane number. I also use paper towels to keep my windows clean when I fill up my car with gas. Sounds like I need another post on car safety. We need to be ready to evacuate at any time. I’m sure those who live in hurricane and tornado area are used to be ready. We have fires and flooding where I live.Linda

  5. This is a great reminder article for me, as I have gone from driving a Saturn Vue (with a clutch) that gets Really great mpg (avg 35-38) to a big Chevy Avalanche. Hehe, a gas guzzler, tho not as bad as I thought it’d be. The Vue could run over 50 miles when it showed empty. I have not a clue how far I’d get with the avalanche after empty reminder. I liked the suggestion a couple readers made that it doesn’t seem so bad to fill if one doesn’t let the tank drop down very much. I’m needing a repair on my Saturn plus 2 tires and put off these expenses during my off-work time but whew I miss her small gas tank…the most I was ever able to put in was 10.5 gals and she was a-flashing the empty signal, lol. A question for others: I used to keep a tiny full gas can in my Saturn, and know I need a much bigger one for the truck: how big and where’s the cheapest place to buy one?

    1. Hi Wendy, wow 35-38 miles to gallon rocks!! We have one car Honda CRV and I think it gets 26-29 miles an hour. I want a little bit bigger car next time, but I work from home so gas mileage isn’t as much an issue. We just had to put some money into our 12-year-old car but it just keeps ongoing. Let’s see what other readers suggest in the way of gas tanks for your Chevy Avalanche. Linda

  6. My BMW uses premium 92 octane. My Jeep runs 89 regular. I keep them both full all the time. It amazes me when I loan my vehicle and tell the chump borrowing it you take it full return it full next thing you know the damn thing is empty – and then they dont pay to get it refilled.

    You may have your personal preference but I always use Chevron, Shell is apparently pretty good but I like the smell of Chevron better.

    You save no money running the tank empty, that is unless you have no intention of replacing the gas you use. Idiots. I keep my tanks full all the time for a reason, most stated in this article. I stop at almost every Chevron I see if I am below F for a quick top up. Get points too.

    Only gas worth wasting is summer gas over the winter and winter gas during the summer. Otherwise just keep the damn thing full. Garg

    1. Hi Kris, oh my gosh, I’m so glad you talked about Chevron gas. That’s the only gas I will fill my car with as well. I see these people lined up at Costco to save money on gas, I don’t get it. A mechanic I take my car to said don’t use Costco gas. I guess I’m a gas snob. But I never have trouble with my car using Chevron gas. The line at Costco is sometimes a 20-minute wait. I can’t imagine borrowing a truck without filling it up. I can’t remember the last time if ever I have borrowed anything, let alone a car or truck. If they brought it back empty, not good. Linda

      1. Haha. Yeah Chevron gas smells so good its like a drug. I use synthetic oil Chevron gas and I get no pings, no knocks, no water vapour out the tailpipe. Dont know much about Costco gas (they dont sell it in Canada) but other than your response I havent heard much of it.

  7. One thing I remember from Science class is that when you buy gas to get it in the morning. The molecules are smaller, as the day goes on they get bigger from the heat. They said you get more gas actually when they are small.

    Coming from MN I learned to never let your gas tank get below 1/2 tank. If there’s water in the gas it’ll freeze, causing engine problems. Now in FL we never let get below 1/2 because of storms and hurricanes. Always watch the radar of the Atlantic.

    Gas stations will run out of gas, there will be a line of cars like during Carter’s time, certain pumps will be closed.

    By the way, planted 27 sweet potatoes in our containers.

    1. Hi Barb, wow, I didn’t know that about the molecules, I love learning new things. Oh I remember when Carter was President and we ran out of gas every where. I remember the long lines and the closed gas stations. Stay safe, Linda

  8. If the fools have their way, we will all be stranded when our electric cars can’t be charged in the winter.

    1. Hi Chris I have the giggles every time I hear about electric cars. My daughter rented one (at the airport, only car available) it took 3 hours to get it charged to 30%. She was livid to say the least. LOL! Linda

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