Driving on Fumes Can Damage Your Engine

Most people don’t think twice about pushing their car, truck, or SUV to the limit when it’s running low on fuel. We here at Integrity Auto Repair want to encourage you to think twice about that. Your low-fuel light on the dashboard should never come on because you should never allow your vehicle’s gasoline to get that low. If you do, you run the risk of damaging your engine and fuel system. Here’s how.

Fuel Cools the Engine

Well, not literally like engine coolant does, but fuel keeps your fuel pump motor cool. Your vehicle’s engine needs fuel and air in the combustion chamber to start. The spark plugs create a spark and that spark ignites the air and fuel in the chamber. This is why we say your spark plugs “fire.” They create a small fire – don’t worry. It’s perfectly safe. How does the fuel get to the combustion chamber, though?

Enter your fuel pump and fuel injectors. The fuel pump pushes the fuel through the fuel injectors using an electric motor. The fuel injectors then spray the gasoline into the combustion chamber. Fuel is liquid and even though it’s flammable, the liquid keeps the fuel pump motor cool. If your gas tank is near empty and the fuel pump cannot draw enough fuel from it, the electric motor will overheat. The hot fuel pump motor overheats your engine next, so a full gas tank helps keep your engine cool.

Gasoline Sediment

Another way driving with your low-fuel light on damages your engine is fuel sediment. Fuel manufacturers can only purify gasoline so much. There is always natural sediment in the gas. This is why your vehicle’s fuel system has a fuel filter. The fuller your gas tank is, the less sediment is drawn from the bottom through the filter and into the engine. Fuel sediment settles to the bottom of your fuel tank because it’s a solid – kind of like how sugar settles in iced tea until it dissolves.

The problem is the fuel sediment doesn’t dissolve like sugar does, and it will eventually clog your fuel filter, your fuel injectors, and build up in your car, truck, or SUV’s engine. If you keep your fuel tank at least half-full, the fuel pump only draws gasoline from the tank and gasoline and sediment. This extends the life of your fuel pump, fuel injectors, fuel filter, and your vehicle’s engine.

Integrity Auto Repair in Eugene, OR, can check your fuel system for sediment damage. Call us for an appointment.