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AAA: Running out of gas can cause costly repairs

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Posted at 6:00 PM, Mar 29, 2022

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Take one look at the price of fuel right now, and it’s enough to make you skip the gas station on the way home from work and hope for cheaper gas tomorrow.

But consumer experts say don’t wait too long. In fact, AAA Bluegrass says it’s better in the long run to pay the price at the pump than run out of gas and potentially deal with even costlier repairs.

“The problem with that is it can actually cause problems for your car's fuel system,” said Lori Weaver Hawkins with AAA Bluegrass. “And so it can actually harm your fuel pump to the point it fails.”

According to Kelley Blue Book, replacing a fuel pump can cost anywhere between $390 and $900.

Beyond maintenance issues, running out of gas can leave you stranded on the side of the road, waiting for help in a dangerous situation.

In parts of Ohio, WCPO reports AAA is seeing increased calls from stranded drivers who ran out of gas — a 20% uptick in the last month.

Weaver Hawkins says that’s not the case in central Kentucky, and she’s hoping it stays that way as we wait for prices to stabilize. She says customers should leave at least ¼ tank in their vehicle at all times to avoid running out. She also advises against solely relying on fuel sensors, because they can sometimes be inaccurate depending on different driving scenarios.

“AAA has actually done automotive research on this,” she said. “And it turns out sometimes that fuel gauge telling you, you have some miles to go, can be off a little bit.” She says their research shows sometimes fuel sensors can be off by as much as six percent.

According to Weaver Hawkins, in February and March combined, AAA Bluegrass roadside assistance crews responded to 56 customers who ran out of gas.