Effects of Driving on Low Fuel – All you need to know

It is a usual practice by many people to refuel their cars after the fuel tank is almost empty. In this article, we are going to discuss some of the adverse effects of this common practice. Let’s explore what can happen if the fuel is low in your car. Your car’s engine needs four essential things to work at optimal capacity. These are fuel, spark, compression, and oxygen. If one of these four things is not provided, the engine will not work. If there is no fuel in your car, there will not be any combustion taking place inside the engine. Combustion of fuel is vital for your car’s engine to work. 

Working Dynamics of a Fuel Pump:

When the engine stops working, people usually think that the fuel pump is faulty. To properly understand this aspect of your car, you need to understand what a fuel pump does for your vehicle. The fuel pump is fitted with the fuel filter inside the fuel tank of your car. It is attached to a suction filter so that any sort of particles do not go into the primary filter and get stopped at the suction filter. The fuel pump in your car takes fuel from the pump and through the filter to the injectors of the engine. The injectors then spray the fuel into the engine. There must not be any raw particles in your fuel tank. This is because when a fuel pump sucks fuel from the tank, it also sucks these particles. 

These particles or debris get stuck in the suction filter; therefore, the fuel pump has to put in extra effort to pump fuel from the tank. If there is no fuel in your car and the car is at a standstill, the fuel pump will suck in air. A fuel pump is designed in such a fashion that it must remain cold and lubricated by virtue of the fuel that passes through it. When air goes through it, it becomes hot, and the fuel pump can break. This will happen if you keep on driving your car on low fuel levels in your vehicle. You can also consult your car’s owner’s manual in this regard. 

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Low Fuel Pressure Damages:

When the fuel tank in your car is about to get empty, then there must be at least one cylinder of your engine that is getting fuel. While the other cylinders will not be getting any fuel. This particular situation results in the misfiring of the engine. The misfiring is when combustion does not occur in a cylinder. When your car is moving very fast with low fuel in the tank, the fuel pump is not supplying sufficient fuel to the engine to work at that level and rpm. The Engine Control Unit (ECU) will demand more fuel to sustain a specific high speed and rpm of the car. This level of fuel will not be present in the tank, and it will be problematic. This will eventually result in the knocking of the engine, which is not good. Therefore, when the fuel is low, do not drive fast as this can reduce the life of your engine. 

Effects on the Catalytic Converter: 

The catalytic converter in your car is an exhaust emission control device. This device helps in controlling the number of harmful gasses emitting from the exhaust system of your vehicle. When a higher proportion of unburnt fuel passes through the catalytic converter, it will start to get hot and will get overheated. If the spark plug is working optimally, the fuel will not get burnt wholly. This will eventually lead to overheating and breakdown of the catalytic converter. Getting your catalytic converter fixed or replaced is expensive. 

All of the symptoms and adverse effects listed in this article are the ones that can probably happen to your car if you drive on low fuel levels. There can be instances when you drive your car on low fuel levels for an extended period, and nothing bad happens to your car. A general rule of thumb is to keep your car’s tank full to at least a quarter of its total capacity. The debris or particles in the fuel usually get settled at the very bottom of your fuel tank. They can only get sucked by the fuel pump when the fuel level is shallow in the tank. 

Stay tuned for more informative content and drop your thoughts in the comments section below. 

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  • Nay

    useful article