Driving On 'Empty' Could Cost You Big

Driving On 'Empty' Could Cost You Big

How to Offset Rising Gas Costs and Save
Kip Doyle
gas gauge

With gas prices reaching their highest point in years, more drivers are pushing the limits of their gas tanks. But driving on “E” can cost you much more than filling up at the gas station.

In May 2022, AAA Western and Central New York received twice as many emergency fuel calls as in May 2021. And while AAA members can count on emergency fuel delivery as part of their membership, letting your car run out of gas is highly discouraged whenever possible.

If your car runs out of gas somewhere unsafe like a busy highway, you could be put yourself in a dangerous situation as you wait for assistance. Not only that, running out of gas can damage your car’s fuel system, which can lead to hundreds of dollars in repair costs.

AAA recommends filling up your gas tank when the fuel gauge is at a quarter of a tank. There are many factors involved in the rise of gas prices. As we wait for prices to steady, there are several actions drivers can take to offset these rising costs.


To limit spending on gas, AAA advises the following:

  • Plan ahead and run multiple errands in one trip, and whenever possible avoid times of day when traffic is heavier.
  • If you own more than one car, use the most fuel-efficient model whenever possible.
  • Avoid hard acceleration to maximize fuel economy, and always inflate your tires to the recommended pressure found inside the driver’s side door or owner’s manual.
  • Remove unnecessary and bulky items from your car. Minimize your use of roof racks and remove special carriers when not in use. Smaller cars weighed down by heavy cargo will have a greater reduction in fuel economy than larger models designed to carry more weight.
  • Consider minimizing your use of air conditioning. Even at highway speeds, open windows have less effect on fuel economy than the engine power required to operate the air conditioning compressor.
  • In hot weather, park in the shade or use a windshield sunscreen to lessen heat buildup inside the car. This reduces the need for air conditioning (and thus fuel) to cool down the car.
  • While these tips will help improve fuel economy, AAA reminds drivers it’s best to always have at least a quarter of a tank of gas. This will ensure drivers have enough fuel in case of unexpected delays but also helps to prevent fuel pump damage that can occur when a vehicle’s gas tank is regularly run down to empty.

AAA Members drive smart and save by using online tools like the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report, Gas Cost Calculator, and Gas Discounts.


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