Motoring

Here’s How Many Kms Left When Fuel Light Comes On

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My fuel light has been on for two days now. I’m one of those people who doesn’t get in a panic driving with the fuel light on. I can easily drive around on empty without a care in the world. Ever wonder though, how many kms left when fuel light comes on?

Whenever my light comes on, I always wonder how long I can go before I’m truly out of fuel. I know this is terrible for my car, but it’s almost like a game. Normally, I win and will make it to a fuel station before I run out. But I have lost before, stranded on the side of the road fuelless and frustrated.

Every car is different when it comes to how long you can go with your fuel light on. Newer models tell you the exact number of kilometres but this isn’t always accurate (see below).

Every car is different but, generally speaking, here’s how long you can drive on empty.

car dash showing petrol gauge
Do you know how many kms left when fuel light comes on?

How long can you drive on empty? An investigation

You may recall Hamish and Andy testing this out a few years back with an Audi SQ5. With an indicated 10km of fuel remaining, the pair set off and managed to drive an epic 111 kilometres once the Audi had said the tank was dry. This was an extra 90 minutes of drive time.

 

In most vehicles, the fuel light will turn on when the tank is typically around 10-15 per cent of the total capacity. So, if your car has a 100-litre fuel tank, you’re looking at the red light when you’ve got around 10-15 litres left.

Which means how many kilometres? This is where it gets tricky because it depends on your fuel economy, but also the driving conditions.

WhichCar did some research on the subject and found that the general figure for drivers was about 67 kilometres. Does this seem accurate for your car? It seems pretty spot-on for mine.

How Many Kms Left When Fuel Light Comes On?

This chart shows you how far you can drive with your fuel light on. Your Mechanic also put together a pretty cool fuel chart with some of the most popular car models in America.

Of course, the measurements are different:

  • 1 gallon equals 3.7 litres
  • 1 mile equals 1.6 km

The makes and models are a bit different too. Chevrolet, for example, is similar to Holden.

So, for a Toyota Rav4, you’ll get 91 to 119 km more once the fuel light comes on. That’s actually pretty impressive.

For a Kia Sorrento, you’ll get around 64km.

And for a Hyundai Elantra, you’ll get just 48 extra km. According to the chart, that is.

How Many Kms Left When Fuel Light Comes On guide
Source: Your Mechanic

The chart won’t be exact for Australian car models but it’s still kind of cool to see how they compare. Just don’t blame My Mechanic (or Mum Central) if you go by the chart and get stranded on the side of the road.

But in all seriousness, driving on low fuel isn’t great for your car so we would recommend not doing it often. Depending on the age of the vehicle, some require a special fuel system purge or bleed procedure before they will restart.

Plus, running out of fuel is incredibly inconvenient, especially if you’ve got the kids in the car.

Yes … but fuel is super expensive! 

I know one of the reasons I often wait too long to fuel up is because I’m so furious at the price of fuel. I used to spend around $50 a week on fuel. Now it’s more like $100 a week. NUTS, which is why I try to hold off as much as I can. This makes zero sense because the fuel is still going down, I know, but it’s just a mind game at this stage.

Our top tip would be to download a fuel comparison app. There are heaps to choose from and many are location-specific but basically, it ensures you are always getting the cheapest petrol in your area. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fuelled up at one station only to notice diesel is 7 cents cheaper just 200m down the road. So annoying!

Before you head out, check it and see where the best place to stop is.

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Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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