At some point in your adult life, you may find yourself stranded on the side of the road, fuel gauge on the dreaded E. You may simply hate fueling up and put the chore off until it’s too late. Sometimes it’s a malfunctioning gas gauge that catches you by surprise.

Whatever the reason, it’s an inconvenient and potentially dangerous situation. Running out of gas on a freeway is dangerous because of the high traffic speeds, but the same situation on a rural country road is equally dangerous for different reasons. It’s important that you have a solid plan before you ever find yourself in this situation. In the moment, you may panic and make poor decisions.

What not to do

One thing you should definitely not do is flag down other vehicles. Although this may seem like a good idea in the heat of the moment, it’s not. Chances are, a good Samaritan will stop to help, but there is always the off chance that a less than savory individual may also stop. You never know who a person might be, or their intentions.

Another option that may come to mind is walking to find help. Whether you are familiar with the area or a passing tourist, this is also not recommended. Firstly, the hazards of passing traffic can be dangerous. This is especially true if roadways are wet or icy. Thousands of people have been injured or killed by passing motorists, which explains why this option is not a good one.

Secondly, the same threat of unsavory characters is still a possibility. Walking along a busy or a desolate roadway makes an individual extremely vulnerable to individuals in the passing cars. Walking for help will put you at risk for injuries and leave you vulnerable to strangers.

What you should do

What you should do, ideally, is not run out of gas. Sometimes it’s too late for that advice, so it’s best to start planning for an empty tank before it’s completely empty. When you first realize that you are going to soon be running out of gas, there are a few steps you should take.

Slow down

The most fuel-efficient speed for a vehicle is between 35 to 45 mph. While this speed can be dangerous on freeways, it’s an option on smaller roadways. Many people think they should speed up to reach a gas station, but you’ll burn up more gas going faster.

Turn off the air conditioner

The air conditioner in a vehicle puts additional stress on a vehicle’s engine, which requires more fuel usage. This means if your fuel gauge is nearly empty, turning your air conditioner can help save the remaining fuel. The bad news is that windows should be left up. Rolling windows down will create excess drag on your vehicle, which is also bad for fuel usage.

Pull safely off the road with hazards on

If you know you’re running out of gas, it’s best to pull over when you realize it. Don’t wait until your vehicle is sputtering and you may not be in a good place to pull over. Find a safe location, such as a pull-out or rest-stop, even if your fuel is not completely gone. It is important to pull off the road as far as you can go, especially in inclement weather. As you slow to pull off the road, make sure your hazard lights are on to warn other drivers.

Keep your hazard lights on the entire time

As you’re waiting on the side of the road, keep your hazards on. When other drivers see hazard lights, they know to give that vehicle space and drive around them. If you don’t have your hazards on, your brake or headlights may give the impression that you are still a moving vehicle and cause you to be rear-ended.

Call roadside assistance

If you have a roadside assistance plan (like AAA), now is the time to use it! Your auto insurance policy may also include roadside assistance. The good thing about roadside assistance companies is that they are always on call and can typically dispatch a nearby vehicle to your location quickly. Remain in your vehicle while you wait, and keep your seatbelt fastened.

Phone a friend

If you don’t have roadside assistance, call a friend or family member and ask them to bring gas to you. For their safety, they should use an approved gas container and only bring enough to allow you to reach the nearest gas station. If possible, ask them to follow you to a gas station to make sure you arrive safely.

Call 911

If you’re in a remote location and can’t get help, calling 911 is always an option. They can arrange to have your car towed if necessary.

Plan ahead

The possibility of running out of gas may be the last thing on your mind when you get in your car, but it’s always best to be prepared. Keep an empty, approved gas container in the trunk of your car. Do not keep a full gas can in your trunk as this could expose you to dangerous fumes and present a fire hazard. Keep the numbers for your insurance company and roadside assistance in your vehicle, and don’t let your gas fall below a quarter of a tank if at all possible.

If you find yourself stranded, Henry’s Towing can bring fuel right to your location. Call us at 417-882-4559.