Running on empty poses risks to motorists and vehicles
As Americans continue to pay higher fuel prices, AAA East Central is seeing an uptick in the number of people who are running out of gas. In March alone, roadside assistance representatives responded to more than 1,000 out of gas calls. AAA East Central recommends motorists always have at least a quarter tank of gas in their vehicles to avoid dangerous and potentially expensive breakdowns.
“Our concern is that if gas prices continue to increase, more motorists will press their luck by letting their cars run closer to empty,” says Jim Garrity, director of public affairs, AAA East Central. “Running a vehicle’s fuel tank when it’s low isn’t just hazardous, it can result in mechanical problems that cost more than the gasoline itself.”
Filling up when a vehicle hits a quarter-tank of gas ensures that there is enough fuel in case of unexpected delays, and also prevents fuel pump damage. When fuel pumps are run close to empty on a regular basis, the subsequent damage can cost as much as $500 or more to repair.
AAA also offers the following advice to help ease some of the pain drivers are feeling at the pump:
- Slow down and drive the speed limit. On the highway, aerodynamic drag causes fuel economy to drop off significantly as speeds increase above 50 mph.
- Reduce trips and lighten your load. Limit the amount of cargo in vehicles when possible. Combine errands if possible, to one day of the week. Also, consider using the more fuel-efficient vehicle in the household more often.
- Avoid “jackrabbit” starts and hard acceleration. These actions greatly increase fuel consumption. Accelerate smoothly with light to moderate throttle. This allows the automatic transmission to upshift into higher gears sooner, reducing engine rpm and saving fuel.
- Use cruise control to help maintain a constant speed and save fuel. However, never use cruise control on wet roads because a loss of vehicle control could result.
- Keep tires properly inflated. Underinflation reduces fuel economy, but more importantly, low tire pressure affects handling and braking. In addition, tires will wear more rapidly and can overheat and blowout.
- Maintain the vehicle according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Regular maintenance will ensure optimum fuel economy, performance and longevity.