Word to the Wise: If You Drive Your Car Until the Little Light Comes on and Tells You Your Car Is Almost Out of Gas, and then You Keep Driving It Anyway Until It Burns Up All the Gas in the Gas Tank and There's None Left, Your Car Will Stop Running.


Similarly, if you change your oil and neglect to replace the cap so that the oil leaves a trail behind your car like a long dynamite fuse, your engine will lock up and die. Oh, and it takes battery power to run your lights.
If you did this on 520, you deserve to die. Just saying.
On the bright side, you didn't have to come to work until the crack of 10:45.
This only happened to me once.

I had to go to work, gas prices were getting higher and higher (2006), I just landed a new job after being unemployed for months, and I was down below 0 in my checking. I thought I could make it home from Renton to Capitol Hill. It was Friday, so I had two days to get some gas money for the next week. I got so close to the James Street exit and then, splat, I was out. In tough times we all make little deals like this especially when we don't want to compromise our "pride" and ask someone for a few bucks for gas. I was more disappointed in my current life-state than being on the side of the highway. Luckily, the god-send that is the WDOT truck stopped behind me and gave me enought gas "to make it to a station." I was grateful and learned a lesson: don't be poor.

But, yeah, I fucked up.
did you run out of gas lindy?
Wait, I thought I was reading an allegory about the U.S. What gives?
I love it when I see these people walking FROM the car, carrying a gas can. How does one allow themself to repeat such an offense?
Really, Lindy? I always sort of assumed that there's be more and more warnings. Like, first the little light comes on, then the light starts flashing, then little window pops up with a warning message, then a warning tone, then a pulsing tone. You're saying the light comes on and then, a little later, your car just ... stops? Like, definitively stops? Shit. 'preciate the tip.
Oh man, but the question here is /how far/ did you get to go after the little light came on? How far?! This is the question that plagues me the most.
Only morons run out of gas. Sorry.
...and in some cars, you can dry up the fuel pump and have to replace that too. So even after your walk of shame with a gas can, you have to call a tow truck and pay a mechanic.

Also, if your car gets too warm - like goes into the red on the temperature gauge, you can seize your engine. It might not seize while you drive, but after you stop, everything can melt together and you will need a new car. And even if you kept driving and made it to a repair shop who tells you that your car is totaled - you have to pay that repair shop for their time looking at your broke-ass car that you broke. Red light = repair shop, no exceptions (what if the warning light is for your brakes and they will work enough at a stop sign but not for the toddler who just ran in front of your car - that would ruin your day/life). Red temperature = pull over RIGHT NOW, no exceptions. Unless you really like to throw money away, in which case leasing a car is safer for you (and all children and animals in your community).

Those lights do actually mean things.
I always got gas when I got to a quarter tank. Meanwhile, my dad ran out of gas in my car constantly. A few years after owning that car, the fuel filter got clogged. I can't imagine who or what was to blame.
@11 That's pretty cool. Except, for my car, the avg. distance is 39 miles with a standard deviation of 22 miles. That's a hell of a lot more variance than I'd be comfortable with.

I usually gauge based on how far the needle is into the thick "E" line. I've never run out of gas, but I start to feel pretty nervous when the needle is fully within the thick line.
I never run out of gas. Food is gas for cyclists. . . and I'd have to be on E and continuing to ride for a very long time to drop all those beer-based carbs I've stocked up on.
I have an Altima Hybrid and wanted to see how far I could go with the warning light on. Made it about another 75 miles and then when the car started getting sluggish it went into electric mode and I was able to coast downhill to an AM/PM. Now I know its limits. Good times.
This same basic principle applies to drinking water, breathable air, and whales.
I've never run out of gas, but I did coast the last hundred yards up to the pump a while back, with the engine sputtering. It was gone by the time I came up level. This is how I know I am charmed. Rub my belly and you'll see!
@6: Ha, me too! I thought it would link to a story about how running out of fossil fuels is really a thing.

@15: The good thing about bonking on a bike is that you CAN keep going, you just start hallucinating on the uphills. And if it's blackberry season, you can always make it to the next bush.
The average 10 gallon gas tank has 11 gallons of gas capacity in it. The warning light/empty signal is when you're down to your last gallon.

If your car gets 100 miles per gallon, for a typical Seattle commuter who drives infrequently, that could mean a month before filling up again.

Just sayin.
@18 - once I drove from Seattle to Santa Barbara over the mountains. On the map it showed a gas station on the northern side of the mountain range en route to Ventura CA - what the map didn't say was that gas station was closed in the winter months.

As I reached the peak, the gas guage showed empty. I literally coasted all the way down to Ventura CA and pulled into the gas station, next to a police car, on fumes. It took 10.98 gallons to fill my 11 gallon gas tank there ...

Thank god I knew about Neutral.
People fall into two categories: 1) those who do quick mental math when they see the light come on, using their known remaining gas-tank capacity and typical miles-per-gallon for the type of driving that predominates at the moment in order to plan their gas stop efficiently, and 2) those who see the needle dropping and engage magical thinking/bargaining with God, and most likely drive faster to get where they're going before the gas runs out.
I've only run out of gas once. I was using my mom's station wagon when I was in college, it was loaded down pretty heavily and it said I had about 1/8 of a tank when I ran out on the highway. I didn't account for the load affecting the needle's reading.
You know, it's actually really easy not to run out of gas with even the simplest token forethought.

I'm just sayin'.
Will, you are an idiot.

Ventura is farther south from Santa Barbara from Seattle (assuming you were using 101 to 154 to get there. If you went I5 to 166 to 33 which is a stupid way to get to SB and you deserved to run out of gas)
After I fill 'er up, I can drive 80 miles before the needle moves even a tenth of the way down the guage. So how come I'm not getting 800 miles on a tank of gas?
I once ran out of gas because I had a gas gauge that did not go back down to E when the engine was turned off. The fuse for the gauge burned out, I didn't know it, thought I had half a tank, and eventually learned the truth the hard way.

Now, you might think I should have figured something was up when the gauge reading didn't change for several days, but I was 16 and this was a car the whole family shared. So I had no idea of knowing when the tank was filled up.

So... some food for thought for the judges and haters out there.
@25 - it's to the East, actually. I cut off I-5. Normally I do the coast route and use the old 99/101 routes for the scenery, but the map said I could make it and it was 3 am at the time after driving flat out from Seattle with stops only for gas, bathroom, and quick food. Great view up there.
Matt, you're allowed to be a dumbass at 16. Shit, even our laws are written in such a way as to excuse that. It. Doesn't give you a license to be a dumbass at 26.
this reminds me. . .I need to get gas.
I admit it. This has happened to me twice.

The first time I was about 17 and going to an event at a location I'd never been to. I thought I knew where it was based on the address but I couldn't find it. When I didn't find it at the address I had, I thought maybe I was missing a directional and went looking for the address in those places (it was on 3rd somewhere in Seattle--I still don't know where it was and it's more than 20 years later). I ran out of gas after about an hour of driving around. My car was from the 70s and I don't think there was a low-gas light.

The second time was just oversight. I was driving home on the freeway and knew I was low on gas but didn't realize how low until I was nowhere near a station. As soon as I realized, I got off at the next exit and ran out of gas at the bottom of the offramp, one block from the gas station. Oops. Luckily someone helped me roll my car to the side of the road so that I only blocked traffic for maybe 20 seconds.

Despite all this, I still have a habit of waiting until well below a quarter tank and often after the light goes on to fill up again. It means half as many trips to the gas station as refilling every time I go below half a tank.
In all fairness, I DID run out of gas once right after I bought my current car. But, it's a 1975 VW bus and the gas gauge didn't work at the time, so I sort of had an excuse.

BTW, the gauge has been fixed for quite a while, and it's never happened since...
@ 5280, that was my point - I wasn't being a dumbass. I had no reason to suspect that I was running out of gas, for the reasons listed.
@28, Will again, Wrong.

Technically, Ventura is More E-SE from Santa Barbara. However, as the crow flies directly from Seattle it is still FARTHER SOUTH as I said.

My original statement still stands, you are an idiot and deserved to run out of gas. Its only a shame you didn't crash and rid us of your presence while you coasted down the hill.
Try riding a motorcycle! You run out of gas on the freeway as a matter of course, switch to the reserve tank, and plan your route to a gas station. The big problem (for me) is remembering to switch back to the main tank after I fill up. There is no reserve reserve tank for such occasions.
Only a few times in the past I have given myself a 20 mile driving limit when the gas needle pointed to the red. My previous auto (86 BMW 325es) the needle would get stuck at times and I had to bang the dash. Luckily the computer system could gauge how much range I had left to drive. Always filled up when it reached 30km.
lindy go ahead and just plug your ass in and diarrhea all over slog
"plug your ass in and diarrhea all over slog"... what does that even mean?
Oh, I get it, it just took a second. Plug her diarrhea-full hindquarters into slog, like one might connect an iPod, and shit on Slog. Point taken, but there are now nearly 40 amusing comments on this post and some of us have learned things today (thanks @11). So, your detraction is void.

I once ran out of gas as I was pulling into a gas station in Sequim after what felt like a million miles of no gas stations. I was young, point in my favor, but I was driving a geo metro in the 90s when gas was nearly free, so I really have no excuse.
I did once run out of gas, but that was because I did not realize there is a more-than-80-mile stretch of Highway 20 with no services at all, between Concrete and Winthrop. Since that time, I have always made sure to have at least half a tank before I start across that stretch. I felt like the frigging Donner Party stuck up there with an empty tank. I had a gas can, was dumb enough to use the ancient gas in it, and took MONTHS to get rid of the problems from using fuel with water in it.
@34 - Fnarf, having an alternate login doesn't change the fact that Google Earth shows the gas station in Ventura I'm referring to is literally East of my actual destination in Santa Barbara.
@40, and then the OTHER time that I ALMOST ran out of gas was on my way back from Lake Chelan with a friend, and we meant to take 90 but somehow ended up on that same stretch of Highway 20 (I'm just saying, and I'll never let her forget it, SHE started the trip off while I was asleep), and it was terrifying because her fancy new car kept aggressively reminding us that we were moments from being abandoned in the woods. If someone were to open a gas station on that stretch, they could probably retire tomorrow.
one time, at band camp ...
@7: this is why you may have seen me walking away with a gas can in my hand. Those little lights and gauges are broken:


@12, if your temperature light turns on and you aren't sitting in traffic, turn up the heater (and the fan) full blast. You may need to open all your windows to keep from overheating yourself. The heater gets its heat from the engine; by turning up the heater and the fan, you hasten the removal of heat from the engine. This is why heaters can take several minutes to "warm up" just after the car starts.

I drove for several days with a busted thermostat this way once, no damage done, though I got it fixed as soon as ever I could. A new thermostat and half an hour of installation carried the day.

A red oil light is not to be trifled with, however, nor is steam coming out from under your hood. A minute or two of that means you will probably need to replace your engine -- get ready to pony up four figures for a replacement, or else get a new car.

Red lights on the dash do not necessarily mean stop immediately. A quick, accurate diagnosis can make all the difference.
I almost ran out of gas once when I was living in Tucson, for a really dumb reason. I was going to a club with a friend and I was driving. I didn't feel like carrying a purse so I just grabbed my driver's license and the $8 I had in my wallet. Afterwards, I took my friend to her apartment on the other side of town and was about a quarter of the way home when I noticed the fuel light was on. I hadn't been paying attention to the gauge, and all I had was $3 in cash. But it was enough to get me to a gas station with an attendant on duty to take it, to my apartment and to the gas station the next day. I now keep a little cash hidden in my car and carry either a credit/debit card or enough cash to pay for a tank of gas or a cab ride home when I go out without a wallet.