Running on empty tank is dangerous, bad for your car

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Letting your car's gas tank run on empty could be bad for your car and it may have deadly consequences.

Authorities say 37-year-old Obrian Fludd was struck by a dump truck and killed Wednesday night as he filled his car with gas on the side of Interstate 526. North Charleston police say the accident happened after 10:30 p.m., and the truck driver says he didn't see the car or the man, even though the car's lights were on.

Drivers say they are taking their chances by letting their gas tanks get close or down to empty.

"I'm driving to let it get down a little more so I don't have to stop as many times," Donell Eason said.

"I was on 'E.' The little red light went on and the little idiot alarm went on. Ding ding ding. My wife said 'What's that?' I said 'It's gas, we got to get gas,'" Doug Verona said.

Lori Jo Simmons with AAA of the Carolinas says the number of emergency roadside assistance calls for gas deliveries for empty tanks has risen almost 17 percent since last year.

"On the side of the interstate, people are traveling at high rates of speed, so you may not be able to be easily seen. On rural roads there is not usually a large shoulder for you to pull off on so it can be very dangerous," Simmons said.

Additionally, car experts say power steering or power breaks could go out in some cars on empty.

AAA says if you run out of gas on the highway, be safe. Pull off the side of the road as far as possible, turn on your flashers, call AAA or a DOT service truck, for better visibility, and get out of the car and wait behind on the shoulder.

"Running lower on a gas tank does not provide you any better miles per gallon. It's better for the maintenance and for your safety to fuel up when you reach a quarter of a tank," Simmons said.

Aside from being dangerous, your vehicle could suffer from running on empty. Experts say it could overheat the fuel pump and allow dirt to get into the fuel injection system. which could damage your car.

Right now in South Carolina gas prices is $3.75 for a gallon of unleaded according to AAA. The association says as crude oil prices decline, there may be some relief at the pump in the coming weeks.

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