Admit it. You’ve seen the warning light and ignored it until it was too late. You knew it was bound to happen. It always does, but you thought you would be better prepared this time to take precautions. But you didn’t. For all of the times you took it to the limit, you never got caught. You were always smarter, craftier and luckier. But this time, you weren’t. You ran out of gas at the worst possible time. Knowing the fundamentals of what your car needs as well as the limits of your car’s fuel mileage is key to your automotive peace of mind as well as maintaining the overall mechanical health of your car. All cars are rated on their MPG or Miles Per Gallon. This is the average miles you can drive on a tank of gas. You will see two different numbers with regard to this definition on window stickers of new cars. One is if you drive mostly highway miles and one is if you drive predominantly in the city. Fuel is more efficiently burned during highway driving. With less starts and stops, the fuel moves through the engine more effortlessly and doesn’t require frequent bursts of energy that use more gas. City driving requires frequent starts and stops and burns gas much less efficiently. If you commute long distances to work or school, choosing a car with a high MPG will save you money at the pump. Hybrids, the new breed of motor vehicles, use a combination of gas and battery power, which favors extremely high MPG’s and is quickly becoming the new normal for drivers. So what does this all mean for your car and your specific needs? First, know your car’s fuel mileage as it stands today. To do this, fill the gas tank completely and write down the vehicle’s odometer reading (or mileage). When it’s time to refuel, fill the tank completely again and write down the number of gallons it took to fill the tank as well as the new odometer reading. Calculate the MPG by first, subtracting the previous odometer reading from the new one. Divide that number of miles driven by the number of gallons it took to fill the tank. The result is the MPG for that driving period. Compare this number with what your car’s MPG was when new based on the kind of driving you did mostly during that period: Highway or city. If the number is close, your car is running efficiently. If it’s off, take steps to improve your mileage, like getting a full service tune up to ensure the mechanics are in good working order, checking your tires, combining trips and even something as simple as cutting your speed on highway travel. If you are filling your tank more than you are filling your refrigerator, think about buying a more fuel-efficient vehicle. When you see the “Low Fuel Light” indicator illuminated, assume you have at least 30 miles before you are riding on fumes but even then, it will vary based on make, model, and year of your car. Setting your trip odometer after every fill up and knowing your MPG helps determine just how far you can push that number. It’s best to fill your tank once the indicator goes just below 1/4 tank as a safe bet. There are many things in life that require testing your limits. Knowing when it’s time to refuel your ride isn’t one of them. Be proactive and never have to rely on luck again. For more great tips on getting the most out of your car, be sure to contact us.