RAC Cars News


Running On Empty

By raccars Published

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A report by an insurance company has shown that more than 800,000 motorists in the UK broke down because they ran out of fuel last year, and the number has been steadily rising since 2011. Of the 827,000 who attempted to run on fumes, the majority were men.

The problem seems to stem from a miscalculation about how much fuel is left in the tank once a car's red low-fuel warning light comes on. About a quarter of drivers who responded to the LV survey believe that they could still get 40 miles out of a petrol tank once the warning light comes on, but in fact only about half of cars carry that much reserve.

The company investigated how far cars can run with the fuel light illuminated, and discovered that the Vauxhall Corsa and Astra both manage less than 30 miles, the Ford Fiesta will travel 37 miles, the VW Polo 39 miles, the Ford Focus 40 miles, the VW Golf 42 miles, the Audi A3 42 miles, the Mini Cooper 45 miles and a Mercedes-Benz will squeeze out 46 miles.

More than 60% of the drivers surveyed claimed never to fill their car's fuel tank completely, and almost one in three get around by putting in a fiver at a time. About a million motorists claim they ignore the low-fuel warning light or don't even notice it. Over two million drivers spend most of their time driving with the fuel warning light on.

LV cautioned that motorists who miscalculate how much fuel they have left and allow their tank to run dry risk causing damage to the engine. Motorists also seem to be unaware that running out of fuel can leave them subject to a Fixed Penalty Notice if a breakdown occurs in certain places and is deemed to have been unavoidable - such as when it is caused by poor car maintenance or running out of fuel. However, when questioned on their attitude to running out of fuel, most motorists expressed more concern about getting lost, heavy rain and being stuck in traffic congestion.

The report suggests that the high cost of fuel often sees motorists pass convenient fuel stations in the hope of finding cheaper prices further down the road, particularly when they are travelling on the motorway, where fuel can cost up to 12 pence more per litre than the national average.

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