(LOS ANGELES, April 15, 2011) -- Higher gas prices are causing more Southern Californians to run out of gasoline, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California. Comparing roadside service calls for gasoline for the first quarter of 2010 to the first quarter of 2011, the Auto Club saw a 12.9 percent increase.
The Auto Club currently is delivering gas to about 15,600 stranded members each month. Although the service call is generally free as part of the membership, members must pay for the gas delivered.
“Higher gas prices may be contributing to more people running out of gas because they are trying to stretch each tank further than normal,” said Steve Mazor, manager of the Auto Club’s Automotive Research Center. “However, as painful as trips to the gas station may be getting, letting your car regularly run on an almost-empty tank can cause even more wallet damage with expensive repairs.”
Running a vehicle with a nearly empty tank on a regular basis may cause sediment in the bottom of the tank to clog the fuel pump pickup, the fuel filter or the fuel injectors, added Mazor.
“Secondly, letting the vehicle’s level of fuel run down to empty may cause the electric fuel pump inside the tank to overheat,” according to Mazor. “The cost to replace this one component alone can be $500 or more in parts and labor.”
Vehicles using diesel fuel have additional needs after running out of fuel. A special “priming” procedure to get fuel to the pump may require the services of an automotive technician.
Additional safety tips for motorists:
- Keep an eye on the fuel gauge; don’t let it run down to less than a quarter of a tank.
- Be alert when your vehicle’s fuel economy drops so you can take corrective action to restore it.
- Don’t touch or pump the gas pedal repeatedly when trying to start a vehicle that’s run out of fuel.
- Drive as fuel efficiently as possible by adopting a gentler driving style, avoiding slamming on the gas pedal or brake.
- If you do run out of gasoline, pull off the street or highway as far to the right as possible. Call for help, or call the Auto Club for help if you’re a member.