I was recently talking to a customer who recalled that her grandfather always told her to keep her gas tank full. “I guess he was always worried about me getting stranded somewhere,” she said. I thought about her story, and how we do tend to worry about our kids, our spouses, our elderly parents, but I also realized that many people don’t understand that there are other reasons we should keep our gas tanks full, too. While not wanting to get stranded is a valid concern, the other reasons have much more to do with preserving the life of your car’s engine.
Why keep your fuel tank full? Here are 3 important reasons:
- Condensation – Condensation can form in the empty part of your gas tank. In the winter that condensation can freeze, collect into icy blockages in your fuel lines and create problems with starting your car. The best way to avoid this happening is to keep your tank more than half full during the winter.
- Fuel pump failure – The motor of your electric fuel pump needs gasoline, which acts as a coolant, to operate properly. When your gas tank is getting low, the pump can suck in air, which generates heat. Over time, that heat can cause your fuel pump to wear down prematurely or even fail altogether. Fuel pump repairs are expensive; you can prevent them by simply keeping your gas tank at a higher level.
- Dirt or rust in your tank – Occasionally, dirt or rust can get trapped in your fuel tank. When you’re running low on gas, that sediment can collect and block your fuel filter, possibly leading to expensive repairs.
Of course, getting stranded because of an empty tank is a big concern, too. If you remember Hurricane Sandy two years ago, large areas lost electrical power for weeks, including many gas stations. People literally ran out of gas trying to find a station with power, let alone one with gas due to shortages. Since then, I advise people to keep their tanks full or nearly full because you never know what an emergency will bring.
There are lots of common reasons why you may avoid filling your tank when it’s low: you might be running late, you think you’re too busy and you’ll just top somewhere later, or maybe you think you’ll pay a cheaper price when you get to your destination. The problem is, saving yourself a little time or money in the present just might cost you large amounts of both in the future. When your tank is low, fill it up and you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing you’re going to make it home just fine at the end of the day.