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We’ve all done it—and probably more than once. The gas light went on the last time you drove your car, but you should be able to make it to your next destination without filling up. For some of us, it’s even a game we play. Just how far can I make it before I have to fill up?

Most of the time, we get by completely unscathed, even if we putter in to the gas station. However, if you might think running out of gas on the side of the road is the worst thing that can happen, you are surely mistaken.

When you’re cruising in your car and the gas light goes on, this means that your fuel has reached the reserve level, which is 10 to 15 percent of your tank’s total capacity. Knowing that percentage will allow you to calculate how many miles until empty you actually have. Some newer cars calculate it for you, too.

It’s crucial to avoid draining your tank and running on fumes in order to maintain vehicle health, and keep you and your passengers safe. Read more about both below:

  1. Save your fuel pump. The fuel pump in your gas tank sends the fuel from the tank to the engine. This pump relies on gas in your tank to stay cool and lubricated. Without enough gas in your tank, you run the risk of overheating your fuel pump. Once that happens, you have a much bigger problem, and an even bigger bill to pay.
  1. Save your passengers. If you run out of gas, and your engine stalls, you can become completely immobilized in the middle of the road. This greatly increases your chance of being hit, or causing a collision around you. This applies to both side streets and highways. Even if you coast onto the side of the freeway or road, some cars may not see you pull over until it’s too late to slow down.
  2. Save on your insurance bill. Calling for roadside assistance is never fun, especially when you know the problem could have been avoided. While great companies such as AAA are available to help you out, you may end up paying for it in the long run. Insurance companies take into account these call outs when your premiums are due to be renewed.

Taking time to fill up at the pump can be time consuming and cause you to go out of your way. However, taking 10 minutes at the gas station can save you a bigger headache down the road.

With gas prices at record low prices, now is the time to take advantage and save both your car and a few bucks!