As Fuel Prices Rise, More Drivers Run on Empty… And Get Stranded

By Paul Riegler on 24 March 2022
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The 1970 Cadillac DeVille convertible, pictured in Los Angeles traffic, reportedly gets 10 mpg in city driving.

Some drivers are letting their cars literally run on fumes amidst higher gas prices.

Gas prices have hit record highs in the United States in the past two weeks, but after sharply increasing they hit a peak on March 11 and have since begun to decline, albeit slightly, except for prices in California, where the price of regular gasoline hit over $6 per gallon in Los Angeles County.

The California Highway Patrol reported that a significantly higher number of drivers is calling for roadside assistance after running out of gas, and is warning that the strategy of operating a motor vehicle when its tank is borderline empty could not only backfire but result in numerous unanticipated out-of-pocket expenses as well as damage to the engine.

“We have had an increase in incidents of motorists running out of gas and requesting services in order to get them back on the road,” the CHP’s Stockton unit posted on its Facebook page.  “We understand gas prices are on the rise, however, by not properly planning ahead, some citizens have found the hard way, the consequences of their decision.”

The CHP cited one case where a driver had to pay $140 for the privilege of running out of gas on the highway.  The fee included a $70 tow, a $60 tow company service fee, and $10 for two gallons of gas.

Driving on a quarter tank of gas or less could cause debris to get stuck in the car’s fuel pump because tiny particles that end up in the gas tank sink to the bottom,  When the fuel pump pumps that last bit of gas, it will also bring any debris in the tank along with it.

In addition, in some vehicles, the fuel pump is located in the gas tank and the fuel acts both as lubricant and insulation as it flows around the pump.  If a driver repeatedly allows the car to run close to empty, the fuel pump could overheat, which could cause it to fail.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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