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First, take a look at your vehicle’s technical specifications. This can usually be found in the owner’s manual. Usually listed near the size of the gas tank is specifications for reserve fuel. In most vehicles, when the fuel level reaches the reserve fuel level, the gas warning light pops up. There’s no standard for how big the fuel tank reserve is, but most of the time it’s about 10-15 percent of the overall size of the tank. You can then use that information as well as your car’s average fuel consumption information to see how far you have to go. Let’s look at the case of the 2013 Toyota Corolla. Its gas tank holds 13.2 gallons, so 10 percent of that is about 1.3 gallons. If you multiply that with the car’s 29 mpg rating in combined driving conditions, you get 37.7, so you can likely get an additional 37 miles from your car after the warning comes on. more
Hoff explains that by allowing a car to run on empty, dirt and contaminants are more likely to become suspended in the fuel and block the fuel filter. When fuel is extremely low, the fuel pump is no longer suspended in fuel and can overheat. In some cases, low fuel can even affect power steering and brakes. more