Low gas gauge tempts fate, AAA says

If you’re one of those drivers who likes to tempt fate by running your car on fumes before gassing up, your luck may run out sooner than you think, AAA says.

The fuel-economy display, which tells you the number of miles your vehicle can go before running out of gas, might not be as accurate as you think, according to AAA.

AAA’s research found that “miles-to-empty” warning system estimates vary among vehicles and depend on factors such as speed, acceleration and driving distance.

“Don’t wait until your fuel light comes on,” said Mark Schieldrop, a AAA spokesman. “We recommend filling up when it reaches 1/4 tank. The fuel pump inside your gas tank is cooled by gasoline. So the less gas you have, the hotter it runs and the more wear and tear on your gas tank. And fixing it can be costly.”

Despite that, AAA research found that nearly 75% of drivers use their “miles-to-empty” display to tell them when they need to fill up.

With the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, AAA tested several vehicles in simulated driving scenarios to determine the accuracy of fuel-economy systems and “miles-to-empty” warning systems.

They found that real-world fuel-economy displays had low error margins compared to simulated tests. But errors varied widely from vehicle to vehicle, depending on speed, acceleration, driving conditions, driving style and distance, as well as highway driving, city driving and idling.


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