Although gas prices are at recent memory lows, they are not likely to stay that way for very long. Anyone who drives has been in the uncomfortable situation where the gas needle is getting low but you really just need to wait another day or two until payday before filling up again. What is a person to do? You could tighten the belt and put a couple of dollars that would normally go to your morning latte into your gas tank or roll the dice and drive it until the gas light comes on. But what then? How much more can you drive once that little light that tells you the car needs gas comes on?
Until now, that has been a mystery, something that drivers may have devotes small rituals to - but no more. Some genius has compiled the relevant data to produce a chart that tells you how many miles are left in the tank when the light comes on. Not every single make and model of car is listed, as that would be a herculean effort in constant need of editing, but most of the popular cars on the road today make an appearance.
Most of the makes and models have fuel light remaining values between one and three gallons, with only Ford making it complicated at 1/16th of a tank. This means you will need to know how much your car’s gas tank holds (it should be in the owner’s manual) and get out the old calculator to calculate how much 1/16th of a tank is. A few of the bigger pickup trucks are listed as four gallons, but that small increase is negated by the fact that they get worse gas mileage than other smaller, more fuel efficient cars. For reference, the Prius’ gas light comes on at 1.6 gallons for an estimated 76 to 81 miles. While impressive, this certainly is not surprising as the Prius is advertised heavily based on fuel efficiency.
Take note, however; while these numbers might be relatively accurate, how many miles you can actually travel while low on fuel will depend on a lot of different variables like how new your car is and its condition, how aggressively you drive, the time of year and others. It is also important to remember that most mechanics and auto manufacturers do not recommend driving when “on fumes” - it can certainly damage your car's internal systems and cause need for major repairs down the line. So do not make use of this chart every week, but file it away in the back of your head the next time you are on the highway, the gas light comes on, and you have no idea how far it is until the next gas station. It can definitely give peace of mind in stressful situations like this, and I would even take it into consideration when looking to buy or lease a new car, as better gas light numbers might mean less stress between fill ups.