One minute, you’re driving along and all is well with the world. Your gas light has been on for a while, but you’re pretty sure you can make it a little longer before you need to fill up.
Then, your car spurts to a sudden stop. Turns out, you didn’t have as much fuel as you thought, and now you’re panicking.
Not to fear! Today, we’re sharing what to do when you have a car out of gas. Reading this guide can help you feel more prepared as you hit the road, no matter how full your tank is.
Read on to learn what to do, what to avoid, and which steps to take to stay safe.
1. Find a Safe Place
The absolute first thing you must do if your can runs out of gas? Pull to the side of the road and make sure you aren’t in the line of traffic.
It’s easy for other drivers to miss a resting car that’s pulled over on the shoulder. This is especially the case when the sunlight fades, dusk falls, and visibility is dramatically reduced. You don’t want to become an unintentional target.
Of course, pulling over is only an option if you realize that you’re running out of gas before the actual event occurs. If you find yourself broken down in the middle of the street, your first course of action should be to turn on your hazard lights.
This is the most effective way to alert drivers around you that there’s something wrong with your car and encourage them to drive around you. Even if the breakdown occurs in the middle of the day, you should still turn on those lights.
Then, when the coast is clear, put your car in neutral. Once you’ve checked to make sure no cars are coming, you can carefully exit on the driver’s side. From there, push your car to the side of the road, reaching inside and gripping the steering wheel to guide it in the right direction.
Once you’ve moved it to a safe spot, engage the emergency brake and leave your hazard lights on.
2. Figure Out Your Location
Before you can call for help, you’ll need to determine where you are located. Most importantly, you’ll need to know how far away you are from the closest gas station.
Thankfully, there are myriad mobile apps that make this step easier than ever before, including Waze. In addition, most smartphones have a built-in map feature that includes a search function. You can use this tool to determine your proximity to local eateries, shops, gas stations and more.
If there’s one just around the corner, you might be able to walk to it and fill up a container to bring back to your car. If there isn’t one nearby or your communications aren’t working, you’ll have to figure out your location via geographical markers. If the sun is out, look for road signs that display a mile marker, exit number or any other distinguishing feature you can relay to your emergency contacts.
If you run out of gas at night, look for any nearby lights. These could signify an off-ramp, which could lead to a gas station.
3. Call Your Emergency Resources
Once you have a general idea of where you are, it’s time to call for help.
If you have trusted friends, family members or colleagues nearby who can bring you a gallon or two of gas to get you by, call them first. If you have automobile insurance, you can also call your agency and request roadside assistance. On the back of your insurance card, you should find an 800 number that’s always available for emergencies like this.
If neither of these is a viable option, you can always call the operator by dialing 411. Though out-of-pocket call rates will apply, it’s still a far better alternative than being stranded. Finally, there’s always the option of calling the cops.
While this might be your first choice, try to contact your other resources first. However, there might be an instance in which you break down in a remote area that doesn’t have cell service. In this case, 911 might be your only option, as you can still reach police personnel emergency personnel even if you’re far away from a working cell tower.
If none of the above work, you can always call a towing service to remove your car safely from the side of the road. This article at https://geyerstowing.com/towing-service-when-do-i-need-to-call-a-towing-company/ explains the steps to take.
Staying Safe in the Future
Now that you know a few steps to take if you ever run out of gas in the future, how can you prevent the incident from happening in the first place? Let’s review a couple of smart ideas to keep you running.
Know Your Route
Before you head out (even just to work), use an app to locate all of the gas stations along your route. That way, if you notice that your tank is getting low and there are only a few stations before your destination, you can go ahead and fill up at the first one you see.
Be Skeptical With Your Gauge
Sure, your gauge might tell you that you can go 25 more miles before you’ll run out of gas. However, don’t take this reading as an irrefutable fact. You might have a few miles more or less than it displays, and it isn’t worth taking the risk.
Err on the side of caution and go ahead and fill up, even if your gauge reassures you that you can still go a few more miles.
Maintain a Steady Speed
To avoid using up too much gas, try to keep your car’s speed at a steady 35 to 45 miles per hour, being careful to obey all speed limits. Your car will be the most fuel-efficient when you are going a constant speed, rather than too fast or too slow.
Of course, if you’re on a quick-moving interstate, traffic laws and safety considerations will take center stage. Otherwise, you’re best to stick to this efficient mid-range speed rather than stopping, slowing and accelerating all the time, which can drain your gas.
Car Out of Gas? Don’t Panic
That sinking feeling when you realize that you have a car out of gas can leave you feeling helpless and vulnerable.
The good news? You’ve got more resources at your fingertips than any generation before you, which means you’re never too far away from help. If this happens to you, remember to move your car safely out of the way as soon as possible while you wait for help.
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