• How Far Can You Drive on an Empty Tank of Fuel?

How Far Can You Drive on an Empty Tank of Fuel?

Motorists in the UK are being hit hard by the steep rise in fuel prices, with no signs of it slowing down.​

Prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the cost of wholesale fuel becoming more expensive, it’s drivers up and down the country that are paying the price. 

Unfortunately even promises by the government have fallen flat on their face, when Rishi Sunak’s fuel duty cut failed to protect motorists. In fact, the cost of filling up at the pumps in April 2022 has increased by 33% per tank of fuel compared to the same time last year. 

It’s no surprise then that car owners are looking to reduce their trips in the short term and stretch their tank of fuel to go further. Which leads us to ask the question; how far can you drive on an empty tank of fuel?

How far you can really drive on an empty tank

It’s a sound most motorists dread - the beep to notify you that your fuel is running low. Whilst we can ignore the fuel light for so long, how far can you actually carry on driving until your car stops?

Usually, a fuel light comes on to indicate that there’s between 10-15% of fuel left in the tank. Some cars will even have a digital display which will estimate how many miles are left to give you a better indication of how much further you can drive.  

From 10 miles to 50 miles of extra distance, how far you can travel on an empty tank does depend on the make and model of your car. Once the fuel light comes on, the average distance you can drive your car is usually around 49 miles. When the indicator hits zero, you won’t be guaranteed any more miles, but it’s likely you’ll squeeze a few more out of the tank… 

If like us you’re a Top Gear fan, you’ll remember the classic episode when Jeremy, James and Richard put a series of cars to the ultimate test, when they drove them on empty. In the episode named ‘The One Tank (of fuel) Challenge’ we witnessed the three amigos race from Switzerland to northern England in a bid to be the first to turn on the Blackpool illuminations.

But there was one catch - they weren’t allowed to refill their cars at any point during the journey! Jeremy drove a Jaguar XJ which had a range of 660 miles on a full tank, although he managed to drive a further 150 miles on ‘empty’. Watch the highlights from the episode below...

Although there’s no guarantee as to how much fuel is actually left in your tank once you’ve hit empty, what we do know is the average amount of miles remaining once your fuel light comes on. In the table below, we’ve displayed data for the UK’s top 10 most popular car models in 2022:

Car Make/Model

Miles Remaining

Ford Focus

42 miles

Ford Puma

40 miles

Hyundai Tucson

50 miles

Kia Niro

45 miles

Kia Sportage

45 miles

MINI Cooper

44 miles

Nissan Qashqai

43 miles

Vauxhall Corsa

36 miles

Vauxhall Mokka

52 miles

Volkswagen Golf

44 miles

The dangers of driving on an empty tank

Of course, rather than put your car to the ultimate test and run it into the ground, we do recommend you head to a fuel station soon after your fuel light comes on.

Running out of fuel can in fact prove extremely dangerous - especially if your car breaks down in an inconvenient spot. Did you know driving your car until the tank is empty can also cause major damage too? 

When you consistently drive your car with little to no fuel, it exposes all the grime in the bottom of the tank and can cause it to be sucked into the fuel pump. This exposed sediment can lead to clogging and potentially needing replacement which can prove costly.

We bet you didn’t realise that purposely driving without enough fuel in the tank can also be a punishable offence too! If you run out of fuel and get stranded in a dangerous position which could cause an accident, you may receive an initial £100 fine from the police (anywhere up to £5,000) and potentially receive penalty points on your licence too. 

Forget fuel costs, go electric at Wilsons Epsom!

Never run empty again when you choose to go electric! If you’ve had enough of rising fuel prices in the UK, then explore your electric car options instead and accelerate your journey to a greener future of driving. 

Here at Wilsons in Epsom, Surrey, we are experts in electric and hybrid cars, offering a wide range of the most popular electric models on the market. From the Nissan Leaf to the Tesla Model 3, search our new and used EV stock online or in person at our state-of-the-art showrooms today. 

Transport For London

Cars need to meet minimum emission standards when travelling in the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) or the daily charge must be paid.

Minimum emission standards

Petrol: Euro 4
Diesel: Euro 6

The ULEZ will be enforced based on the declared emissions of the vehicle rather than the age. However:

Information from Transport For London

Check this car on the TFL website before purchasing: https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/check-your-vehicle/

All our vehicles are subject to an Admin Fee. Our Admin Fee covers any additional administration needed during your transaction, including a thorough provenance check (HPI Check). The admin fee also includes the cost to fully valet, register and, if necessary, MOT your vehicle (if less than 6 months left of current MOT).

Our administration fee is a variable fee which covers the additional administration needed when transacting with different categories of customers as specified. Retail Customers £199.00 - (Private buyers - NOT an owner, partner or director of a new/used vehicle sales company). Retail Customers using a finance broker outside our official panel of lenders paying funds direct to Wilsons Epsom - £399.00. All fees are inclusive of VAT.