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What Happens When Your Car Runs Out of Gas? 

Tips For Better Gas Mileage

Understanding what happens when your car runs out of gas is crucial to prevent major damages. When there is no gas at all in your car, the fuel pump and the spark plug can get damaged; you'll notice that the vehicle is stalling, and it will be much harder to use the brakes or the steering to control the vehicle. 

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When we drive our vehicles for a long time, we get to know every single component. So we understand exactly when the vehicle doesn't sound right, and we know if there's something wrong. 

Dealing with low gas is a very common situation. You might see the fuel gauge right at the “E” mark. If that happens, you probably rush to the gas station to fuel it up. But have you ever got into a situation where your vehicle runs out of gas? 

While running out of gas usually hurts most vehicles, the impact is more severe when dealing with a more modern car. This is because modern vehicles are equipped with certain components that monitor and send fuel to the combustion system. When your car runs out of fuel, these components get damaged quickly, costing you a lot of money.

This article provides you with all that you need to know about what happens when your car runs out of gas. It also provides you with some suggestions about what you can do when you feel that your car is about to run out of gas. 

What happens when your car runs out of gas? 

When the fuel gauge points to the “E” mark, it doesn't necessarily mean that your vehicle is running out of gas completely. Instead, it means that there is a little bit of gas, but what we will show you here are the outcomes of completely running out of gas, which includes

  • Overstress the fuel pump 

One of the first components that could get damaged when you run out of gas is the fuel pump. As the name suggests, the fuel pump's main role is to push and pump fuel from the gas tank to the combustion engine. Unfortunately, when the pump doesn't find any gas, all you are doing when pressing the gas pedal is sending more pressure and stress on the fuel pump that could damage it. 

Also, the fuel pump relies on fuel to cool down and stay well lubricated, and when it runs out of gas, it can overheat and get damaged even if you don't continuously press on the gas pedal. 

  • Clog the spark plugs 

The spark plugs are small tiny nozzles connected to the engine and are responsible for spraying fuel when necessary. Unfortunately, when your vehicle runs out of gas, the spark plugs can get clogged with debris and other contaminants that made their way from the gas tank to the engine.

Usually, this debris sits in the bottom of the gas tank and never makes its way to the engine because of the fuel filter. But, thought when the vehicle doesn't have enough fuel, this debris can be sucked up and get through the fuel filter probably by damaging it. 

Although the fuel pump and the spark plugs are the first components that could get damaged when running out of fuel, you won't necessarily see any symptoms indicating that these components are getting bad. However, you must inspect these two components if your car runs out of fuel and you have difficulties starting it after refueling. 

  • Cause the vehicle to stall 

When you run out of gas, you'll notice that your vehicle will stall, and your car might suddenly stop when driving. The situation can be extremely dangerous, especially if you panic in response to this stalling, and it can most likely get you involved in major car accidents. This is because you might try doing your best to get your vehicle out of the highway without paying enough attention to the vehicles of wrongdoing. 

  • Make it hard to brake

Keep in mind that the braking system doesn't necessarily have to do anything with the fuel system because there are two separate systems. However, customers reported that when their vehicles run out of gas, the brakes feel stiffer and heavier, and sometimes they push down. 

The brake system might stop working if your car shuts down completely. This is because it relies on a hydraulic transfer from other components that the engine might power. 

  • Cause issues to the steering system

Like the hard brakes, you might also notice that the steering wheel gets a little harder, and it might take you to use both hands so you can turn the vehicle to get out of traffic so you can pull over. Again, the steering wheel doesn't necessarily get power from the engine. Still, when the vehicle shuts down, you'll notice that many components that are powering the steering wheel will not work, and therefore, the steering wheel will feel much harder. 

What to do when your car runs out of gas?

No, you have a good idea about what might happen when your car runs out of gas; it is time to prepare for such situations. This is because running out of gas happened suddenly without any preparation, and even if you were prepared, you wouldn't leave your car to run out of gas. Therefore, when this situation happens suddenly, you won't have the right mode and stress level to think about what exactly needs to be done.

Therefore, we advise that you familiarize yourself with the following tips and tricks to deal with the vehicle running out of gas: 

  • Stay calm

If your car runs out of gas or even if your car experiences any mechanical issue, the most important thing you can do is to stay calm. Being over-stressed is not going to help you, and it will make things worse. Therefore, we advise that if you notice some of the mentioned consequences indicating that your car is running out of gas, remind yourself that there are some tips you can follow to help get you out of the situation safely without any hassle.

  • Pullover and stop your vehicle 

Once you calm down, it is recommended that you find the best chance to pull over and stop your vehicle. Of course, you want to pick an area that doesn't have a lot of traffic, but this might not be the ideal case if you're driving on the highways. However, if you ended up not driving the vehicle to the nearest exit, you can pull over to the shoulder. 

  • Use the hazard lights 

Before you even reach out to the assistant, you recommend turning on the hazard light spirit. These lights are made specifically for this purpose, and you need to stay visible to the coming traffic, especially if this situation happens during nighttime.

Turning on the hazard lights help you and the people around you. But, it also can't catch any police attention who can come and provide you with an additional assistant to keep you visible and keep you safe from coming traffic, especially if you're driving on the highways. 

  • Reach out to assistant 

Once you're stationary and visible for the coming traffic, the next step is to reach out to a professional mechanic or your preferred mechanic shop. If you have insurance, you might also take advantage of any road assistant if it's included in your policy.

Let the assistant know that your vehicle is running out of gas and describes to them any other symptoms that you might notice as you're waiting. Sometimes major issues could happen when your vehicle runs out of gas like the ones we mentioned earlier. Therefore, it is recommended that you give them a heads up about other stuff to keep in mind or other items to bring with them to get your vehicle going. 

How to prevent running out of gas 

The best solution for issues with running out of gas is to prevent the situation from happening. Therefore, it is recommended that you keep an eye on the fuel tank check the fuel gauge every time you jump into the vehicle. 

If you've been driving your car for a long time now, you will have a sense of when it's time to review the vehicle. For example, you might need to refuel it once every week or once every morning if you are working for a transportation company or something. Thus, build a habit of determining the frequency of when exactly a car will need fueling because it can help you save a ton of money! 

Will police help you if you run out of gas?

Police can help you in many ways if you run out of gas. If you feel that you are nervous and you can't calm down to reach out to an assistant, it is recommended that you reach out to 911. Even if your cell phone doesn't have enough service range, your call will be forwarded to the nearest police station.

Police can help calm you down and make your vehicle much visible to the coming traffic, so your car doesn't get hit, especially if you're driving at night. 

Once the police arrive, they can advise you about what needs to be done to help get your vehicle going and get you out of the situation safely. 

Why won't my car start after I ran out of gas? 

As we indicated before, when your car runs out of gas, the first two components that could get damaged are the fuel pump and the spark plugs. Unfortunately, we can't guarantee that it's one of those components preventing your car from starting. 

Therefore, we recommend that you perform a quick jump start to see if there is an issue with the battery itself that might not necessarily be linked to running out of gas. 

Once you confirm that there is no problem with the battery, while it's most likely a problem with the fuel pump or the spark plugs, it could also be an issue with one component in the starting system like the starter motors, key fob, alternator, etc. 

To get a better idea about what's going on, you can use an OBD 2 scanner, which can scan the vehicle's computer and throw an error that you could search on Google to translate. 

If you don't have an OBDII tool, The only solution for you, in this case, is to reach out to a professional mechanic and have him inspect the vehicle thoroughly to confirm the root of the problem. 


Understanding what happens when your car runs out of gas is essential information to prevent damaging your vehicle. Once you know the severity of the consequences, you will build a habit of maintaining enough gas in your fuel tank all the time.

When your car runs out of gas, two major components might get damaged, including the fuel pump and the spark plugs. In some situations, you might even notice that your car is stalling, and the brakes or the steering are harder than before, making it challenging to control the vehicle. 

If you notice that after your car ran out of gas caused major damages, the only solution for you is to get the faulty component repaired. However, sometimes repair costs can be extremely high and beyond your budget. Luckily, Cash Cars Buyer is one of the fewest companies that guarantee to buy your car and will only remove it within one to three days! 

Cash Cars Buyer is one of the top-rated car removal companies in the nation that guarantees to pay you the top dollars and will provide you with free towing despite your living location around the United States. 

Our process is very straightforward and doesn't take more than a couple of days to get your vehicle removed safely and for the most money. 

All it takes you is to:

  • Describe your vehicle’s type and condition
  • Receive our instant free quote
  • Accept the quote 
  • Get your car removed and receive your cash payment on the spot!

To learn more about our process and our teen, you can reach out to us by giving us a call at 866-924-4608 or visit our home page click on the free instant online offer.

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