What to do if you run out of gas on the road – how to get to a gas station

What to do if you ran out of fuel on the road?

So I want to say that a normal driver such a situation just can’t take place. He may have a full 5-liter bottle in the trunk, and his eyes are always watching the distance covered, the fuel level and other readings of devices. And the place of the next filling station was imprinted in his brain a long time ago. But… but things happen. And you have to figure out what to do.

Much, of course, depends on where you were in trouble. Let’s consider the basic situations: what to do if you ran out of gas, well, or simply put the car “dried up” on the road.

The paid autobahn.

We shall notice at once that on a toll highway gasoline can “suddenly” run out even at the experienced person, if that too much pressure on the right pedal. With the increasing speed, the consumption increases markedly, and in many Russian toll stations are separated by a large distance. Stopping on highways is prohibited, but – what to do if “the car does not go”? Waving your hands is useless – no one will stop here. Unless a passing traffic cop pulls in. But luckily, the Avtodor has mobile patrols.

You turn right, pull as close to the roadblock as possible, switch on the hazard lights, set the warning triangle, just in case, climb over the roadblock and start calling the road commissioner. These phones are always found on the road signs of high-speed roads – I like to think that you remembered a few right numbers. If not, here they are: call the traffic sheriff at a single number *390. Another cell phone number is *2323.

However, they will probably come to you without calling: A car parked on the Autobahn is an accident! A car parked on the Autobahn is an accident! It doesn’t get away from the speed cameras which are everywhere. And they can offer you 5 liters of gas free of charge (!) if you want to drive yourself to the gas station. It’s a matter of luck whether they punish you or not: they will probably help you and escort you.

What to do, if I ran out of fuel on the road?


In the city everything is much easier. Roll your car as far as you can – most likely you will get a fine for parking in a wrong place. Next step – “call a friend. A friend can either come with a canister of gasoline, or take a tow. If you managed to park the car without problems, you can not in a hurry.

By the way, there is a service – gasoline delivery for the forgetful. Prices there are floating, but gasoline, most likely, will bring: the work is not dusty.

The solution head-on – call a tow truck. Humiliating, not cheap, but you’ll have to get over it.

You can also call a cab and ask for a ride back and forth: to the gas station and back. You can buy a canister and funnel at the same gas station. Climb with a gasoline canister in other urban transport is not worth it.

Out of town.

Again, the first thing to call anywhere: car service now a lot. Can come up and rescue. You can also try to call a cab from the nearest town. If you’re lucky, the cab driver will also share the gasoline.

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You can also stand on the curb, waving your hands appealingly (preferably with an empty canister in your hands!). But even if a compassionate motorist will take pity on you and stop – a canister of gasoline in his trunk, most likely, will not be. Pour fuel from the tank today is almost technically impossible, and no one will do it. Unless an ancient Zhigul or a carbureted Volga will stop. They, by the way, can find a suitable hose, and a funnel for overflow. Otherwise have to ask for a ride to the gas station – the way back to do the same way. Of course, there are real heroes who will take you there and back, but still do not look forward to it.

Good advice.

Be sure to buy a 5-liter canister – and it’s for gasoline, not water. There’s a huge difference between the two – don’t experiment. Make sure the canister has a funnel – without it you can’t just pour fuel into the tank. Fill up the canister and carry it with you.

Another tip is to always carry cash with you. In critical situations, especially out of town, your plastic cards may not work. And not everyone is ready to help unselfishly. And you’ll be glad to know that you’re not a freeloader.

And an ironclad option is a subscription to a roadside assistance service. For owners of new cars this service is offered free of charge, but buying a subscription yourself won’t ruin your chances. Especially since there is a choice of both the help services themselves and their rates.

What to do if your car ran out of gas on the highway.

The road often presents various surprises. Especially inexperienced drivers, for whom even replacing a punctured tire is a real challenge, are often caught unawares. And the problem is not always solvable in a simple way. An empty gas tank is one of the most common reasons for a car to stop on the road. However, even for the experienced motorist the question “What to do if you suddenly ran out of gas?” in some cases becomes relevant. Let’s try to describe all possible methods of solving this perennial problem.

What to do if the car ran out of gas on the road

How to find out that the car has stalled due to lack of fuel

Stopping the power unit can occur for a variety of reasons. A modern engine is a complex technical device consisting of thousands of parts. Failure of any of them is fraught with serious trouble, and the diagnosis of such malfunctions can be considered as an independent and extensive topic.

Nevertheless, in the vast majority of cases it is quite easy to determine that you have run out of fuel. The matter is that petrol or diesel do not run out of gas all of a sudden (we will not consider gas-powered cars, because they can also run on petrol in case of emergency). In any car there is a light that lights up as soon as the amount of fuel in the tank decreases to some critical level. But in this case, the driver always has some kind of range, allowing to solve the problem before it occurs.

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But… It is possible that the indicator has trivially burned out. In the end it is possible not to notice the warning signal (it will not burn out for a long time, allowing driving about 10-15 kilometers – at a good speed it is about 6-10 minutes).

But there are other signs, indicating that the fuel in the gas tank is left at the bottom. First of all, it will be reported by unstable operation of the engine, the appearance of extraneous noises, you can hear the knocking of “fingers”, although previously it was not observed. It is due to the fact that the gasoline pump is pumping residual fuel together with water and particles accumulated at the bottom of the tank into the fuel system.

A jerking car at a constant accelerator pedal position, loss of motion smoothness, decreased injectivity of the power unit are also indirect symptoms of the fuel tank sinking. Many car owners know what to do if they are out of gasoline/diesel fuel on the freeway, but we don’t think that all of them do. Keep in mind that the available knowledge may be insufficient to solve the problem, so it makes sense to give the most common and effective ways of solving it.

How to get to the gas station, if you run out of gasoline

The most obvious solution lies on the surface – to raise your hand in order to stop the vehicle in transit in order to get a small amount of fuel, allowing you to safely get to the nearest gas station.

It turns out that today the relevance of this method is not so great. The thing is that it is impossible to drain the gasoline from the majority of foreign cars. The reason for that is the complicated geometry of the tank and the filler neck, as well as the presence of a strainer, which will not let the hose descend further.

So this method is only suitable for rare models of cars (for example, VAZ, old Moskvich and Volga). In some cases, you can also drain the gasoline from a foreign car. Among the alternative methods are the following:

  • Refill the gas tank with another flammable liquid;
  • towing to a gas station;
  • to get to the gas station by a means of transportation;
  • call an acquaintance who will come and help you out.

Let’s consider the features, pros and cons of each method.

Stopping an old car

The most likely candidate for this role is a Zhiguli. They are found on domestic highways are not so rare. It is enough to have at least one and a half meters long hose in your trunk (you should take care of it beforehand, because it is definitely not included into standard equipment). You may not be so lucky, because an owner of Zhiguli may mount the aforementioned strainer into a filler neck by himself.

If everything is all right with that, you will also need some container: pouring from tank to tank requires very long hose and free space on a freeway (cars must stand side-by-side with each other). But even in this case the difference in levels may not be enough to decant an acceptable amount of gasoline.

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The only advantage of this method is its lightness. The disadvantages are a bit more:

  • you don’t know how long you’ll have to stand on the highway before a car with a suitable fuel tank design stops;
  • you or the stopped vehicle must have a hose and a suitable tank;
  • it is likely that the stopped vehicle runs on gasoline with a different octane number (e.g., A80), which is not known to be suitable for you.

Drain fuel from a foreign car

In the general case it is really problematic because of the above-mentioned reasons. However, it is likely that you will be lucky. For this you need a few circumstances to coincide.

In this case, there are two possible options: the use of a hose and a gasoline pump.

If a hose is used, it is necessary that the filler neck has a mesh with a diameter of about 6 millimeters (it can also be 4, in which case the method is not applicable). If, however, the diameter of the mesh holes is suitable, a hose of size 5 or 6 millimeters will be required – it has every chance of overcoming the first barrier in its path. The second barrier is the complex geometry and the large length of the throat. The hose must be both flexible and rigid at the same time, have a length of three meters or more. In this case you might be lucky to get directly to the gasoline.

Draining the car

The advantage of this method is one: the ability to liquefy fuel. Among the disadvantages – a small probability of stopping the vehicle with the required diameter of the filter screen holes and the need for a thin and long hose.

The use of a gasoline pump is a method that not every car owner will agree to. Its essence is to unscrew the nut that connects the outlet of the gasoline pump with the fuel line in order to drain the fuel into a prepared container. In most cars the gas pump is located under the back seat, and that is why not all drivers will agree to such a step. However, you can do without a gas pump: just short circuit its relay, disconnect the regular hose from the frame and turn on the ignition.

The only advantage of this method is the ability to drain gasoline from a foreign car. However, we have already sounded the main drawback: not everyone will agree to experiments with fuel system. And you will be required to have at least minimal metalwork skills.

Filling with other combustible liquid

In spite of the fact that a modern car is rather picky about composition of fuel mixture, it can easily reach the nearest car service station using some flammable fluids even without ECU adjustment. In particular, we are speaking about alcohol, which, for example, is a part of bioethanol. And if there is even a shabby roadside cafe near your forced stop, it is quite possible to get hold of liquid ethanol. Of course pure alcohol is preferable, but it would be unreal to get in this situation. But strong moonshine or whiskey is quite possible. Vodka will also do. Note that this is a very extreme method, and it directly depends on the quality of the alcohol mixture. It is possible to drive about ten kilometers on such fuel but after that you will have to wash out the fuel system, and this is not a cheap treat. In addition, such trick is impossible in cars with diesel power units.

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But what to do if you ran out of fuel on the road, and were not able to get another one? A tow rope can help. For cars equipped with a manual transmission, it really is a great option. Provided there is a kind-hearted driver who will agree to tow your car, in your trunk there is such a rope and there is a place to hook it, which is not always obvious.

Let’s note right away that in case of automatic transmission towing is not recommended (we won’t consider the case with loading the drive axle on a tow truck). If the situation is hopeless, towing is acceptable, but with the selector switched into neutral and at low speed (up to 25-30 km/h). Towing distance should not exceed 30-40 km – in this case the negative consequences for the box will be minimal.

Towing the Car to a Filling Station

The presence of a variator completely excludes the possibility of using a tow rope.

Getting to a gas station by a hitch

Many drivers use this method after several unsuccessful attempts to get gasoline. In this case, you will need an empty container and luck – because you will have to catch a hitchhiker both in one direction and in the opposite direction.

Note that the plastic canister is not suitable for this – most likely, you will be refused service, because it is prohibited by safety regulations. An agreement is unlikely to be possible because everything that happens at gas stations is recorded by video cameras, and gas station employees value their jobs. So without a metal container can not do. However, the existence of a store at the gas station can be that lucky chance that will help to get the required container.

Calling a friend.

In fact, this is quite a decent option, provided that you stalled at a relatively short distance from the location of your acquaintance. For decent distances, this method may be too expensive, since you will at least have to pay for the cost of the fuel spent on the arrival of the friend.

What to do if the car still does not start after refueling

Let’s assume that you have managed to refill your gas tank with fuel in one way or another. It turns out that this does not guarantee that you, as if nothing has happened, continue your journey. Cases where the car can not be started after refueling are not that rare.

The main thing is not to panic. Perhaps the reason is in trifles, so you should check the state of electrical wiring, as well as the contact group of starter and ignition coil. It is necessary to check the condition of spark plugs – they are often overfilled, – assiduously pushing on accelerator pedal. Soot, cracks on the body of a spark plug and the gap changed in comparison with the nominal one will aggravate the situation.

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Your vehicle won't start after refueling

It is quite possible that you can’t start the engine because there is frost or moisture on the spark plugs. The same result will be if there is water in the exhaust pipe. Inexperienced drivers sometimes forget to disengage high gear, and attempts to start in such cases result only in jerking the car. Rarely, but it happens that the driver has turned off the fuel interlock.

If all of the above is normal, and when you turn on the ignition, the fuel pump runs idle, not leading to the start of the power unit – perhaps the injector section has run out of gasoline, and then it is unlikely to be able to solve the problem yourself.

Remember that if you managed to drain the gas tank completely, it threatens the following unpleasant consequences:

  • air plugs will appear in the fuel line, which will prevent the normal flow of gasoline into the combustion chamber;
  • Due to air and dirt getting into the gasoline pump when it runs “dry”, especially on injector engines, it may break down.

So it is highly recommended not to turn on the ignition again and again, if after emptying the tank and filling it up the car does not start after several unsuccessful attempts.

In such cases, you will have to look for the cause yourself, which for most drivers is obviously unacceptable. So, without the services of a tow truck (or towing) is not a solution.

What is necessary to have in a car, to avoid force majeure

Such advice as economical attitude to fuel can seem primitive to many people. But it is really an effective way which allows you to find yourself in a hopeless situation much less often. Think about how often you do your business for 10-15-30 minutes while warming up the engine? And what do you say about an hour of idling in traffic with the engine running?

However, it is equally important to have in the trunk the devices that will help solve the problem: a metal canister, several hoses, including a thin one, as well as a tow rope (a modern fabric version will not take up much space in the trunk).

Before any trip, measure the amount of gasoline in the tank with the distance you will have to cover. Of course, it is often impossible to accurately estimate how much fuel is left, but usually this is not required. A rough estimate, which can be made by examining the scale on the dashboard is enough. And to measure the distance to the desired object can be either with the help of a navigator, or using the appropriate application for your smartphone.

Another factor to be wary of is the drainage of the gasoline by intruders. True, today it is almost impossible to find a car, the gas tank lid of which can be opened without using the key, and many foreign cars already have good protection against unauthorized entry. But the owners of “Zhiguli” and other rarity models of domestic automobile industry to take care of additional protection for the fuel tank will not interfere.

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