Phoenix Auto Repair

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Running On Fumes Is Hazardous

Are you one of those people that wait until a warning beeps or the low fuel light illuminates? Do you feel confident you can go several more miles before actually running out of gas? Do you make a game of “I think I can, I think I can” meaning I think I can get to a gas station on just fumes alone? If so, read on!

I’ve known a few people in my time who enjoy the challenge of pulling up to the gas station on fumes. Sure…they have lost a few times and had to hoof it to the nearest station, buy a gas can and walk back to where their trusty vehicle finally stopped. Some even brag after this experience that now they actually know for sure how many miles they can drive after the fuel warning lights up! I’m happy those people enjoy such games and challenges, but playing that game can have costly, not to mention damaging results for your vehicle.

Most vehicles have an electric fuel pump located inside the fuel tank and are actually submerged in the fuel. The fuel pump is an electric motor that spins at a high rate of speed. Spinning mechanical parts create heat and need lubrication, which is why the pump is at the bottom of the fuel tank completely covered with fuel.

The fuel pump is always spinning as long as the engine is running, which makes it more important not to run low on gas. When your fuel gauge reads below ¼ of a tank, the fuel pump is starting to be exposed to air inside the tank, instead of the cool fuel.

If you put your hands together and rub them back and forth as fast as you can, you will create heat, when you stop, it will take a few minutes for them to cool down. However, if you put them under water they cool down immediately. Maybe not a great analogy, but I think you get the idea.

Overheating fuel pumps is the number one cause of failure. The cost of replacing a fuel pump on most cars is roughly $600 to $1000 and some cost even more. The best thing you can do for your vehicle is fill it up when it gets to a quarter tank. It will save you money in the long run and keep your car running well. Sure…it doesn’t have the same challenge as driving on fumes, but when it comes to your vehicle, it is always wise to consider damage control…both to your car and your wallet!