How far can you actually drive when the fuel light is on?

Anyone who has driven a car has probably experienced the fuel light coming on. In fact, some drivers invariably keep driving until the light comes on before refueling. But what is actually the real range when the light is on and can you drive without damaging the motor?


How far can you drive on average with the warning light on?

On average, you can still drive quite a few kilometers after the warning light comes on. Most people estimate the range to be between 40 and 50 km as soon as the light comes on, but in reailty you can often drive a little further. Normally the light comes on when there is about 10% fuel left in the tank. This means that in theory you can still drive about 10% of your total range. Suppose you can normally drive about 900 km with a full tank, then you can expect that you can still cover about 90 km after the light has switched on.

Of course, several factors can affect the actual range, such as your driving style, road conditions, the weight the car carries, and so on. That is why it is wise to stop at a gas station in time. Fortunately, MAES gas stations can often be found closeby in Belgium 😉.

Is it bad for the engine?

Some people like to drive until the light comes on and then don’t worry about filling up right away. A phrase that often comes back: “I know my car”. But can this actually hurt? If this only happens occasionally, it’s not really a problem. Or if you immediately start looking for a gas station, as soon as the light comes on, you don’t have to worry. But we do not recommend doing this regularly.

Over time you will get some dirt and residue on the bottom of the fuel tank. Not a problem in itself, but if you regularly drive until the last drops, it can happen that the dirt and residue is taken by the fuel pump. Although the fuel filter will retain most dirt, some may pass through the filter and cause damage to the vehicle.

All in all, you can still drive quite a bit further than expected when the fuel light is on. But the most sensible solution is to pay a quick visit to MAES! And do you drive on because you forgot your wallet at home and therefore cannot refuel? Don’t worry, at MAES you can now also release the pump via the MAES app!