Rising prices at the pump make people do dumb things. Some buy a new car to save at all costs. Not only will they never recoup the cost of the new car, the tsunami in Japan turned fuel efficient Japanese cars into everything else than a bargain. Others do something particularly stupid: They drive their car until it runs out of gas.
The Automobile Club of Southern California reports that increasing gas prices make motorists run out of fuel and become stranded. About 15,600 Auto Club members requested roadside service last month because they run out of gas. That’s up 12.9 percent from the same month in the previous year, the auto club told The Desert Sun.
The trend is attributed to people trying to stretch their existing fuel to the limit after prices crossed the psychologically important $4 mark and keep heading higher.
Wringing the last drop out of the tank does not save any money. In the contrary: Sediment at the bottom of a tank can clog the fuel pump pickup, the fuel filter or and the injectors.
“Letting your car regularly run on an almost-empty tank can cause even more wallet damage with expensive repairs,” said Steve Mazor, manager of the Auto Club’s Automotive Research Center. “Secondly, letting the vehicle’s level of fuel run down to empty may cause the electric fuel pump inside the tank to overheat.” On top of it, that gas pump might just be on the list of parts your dealer is short of.