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UPDATE: New Gasoline Rule is Here to Stay

Have you ever run out of gas? It’s not a fun experience. You have to walk or find someone to give you a ride, and it’s just an all-around headache. But what if I told you there was a way to avoid running out of gas? Believe it or not, there is — and it’s called the Gas Rule.

By following this one rule, you’ll never run out of gas again.

Sit back and buckle up, so we can explain why you should follow it.

What Is the Gas Rule? 

The Gas Rule is simple: never let your tank go below half full. Yes, it’s that simple. Of course, this rule has benefits and drawbacks, which we’ll point out. But always keep at least half a tank of gas in your car at all times. 

Does Filling Up at Half Tank Save Gas?

This question has little consensus among experts. Some would argue that the lower your tank gets, the more fuel becomes vapor to fill up the space. It thus reduces the amount available for operating the vehicle. 

Others would argue that keeping the tank near full comes with the caveat of the added weight of the fuel potentially hurting gas mileage. Realistically, however, the weight will likely have a negligible effect on fuel efficiency.

You can actually save on gas because you’ll have more flexibility to try and find a gas station with lower prices. The Gas Rule doesn’t increase fuel efficiency, but in this roundabout way, it can help to save you money at the pump.

However, saving gas isn’t the focus of the Gas Rule. The focus is on your ability to drive and save you from a disastrous emergency. 

Car dash board with gas light on
Letting your gas tank run low is a bad idea!

Why You Shouldn’t Let Your Gas Tank Run Low

Firstly, you should follow the Gas Rule is to save yourself from an emergency or the hassle of unintentionally running out of gas.

In the best-case scenario, you could run out and not find a station in time. Then you’ll have to walk or try to find a ride to a gas station and back to your vehicle. You’ll also need a gas can, which not all filling stations carry these days. Depending on where you run out of fuel, walking or trying to hitch a ride could be dangerous, not just inconvenient.

But what if you run low on fuel during a time of crisis? If you or someone else has a medical emergency or needs to evacuate during a natural disaster, running out of gas could prove life-threatening. In this case, following the Gas Rule is a simple form of insurance, allowing you time to locate assistance.

Pro Tip: Save some money at the pump! Use these tips on How To Easily Spend Less Money on Gas.

Do Cars Run Better With a Full Tank? 

How well cars run with a full tank of gas is another controversy. Some experts say a car works better on a full tank, while others argue they don’t.

There is some sound logic to the argument that cars do run a bit better when full. The focus of this logic is on three specific scenarios.

One, the fuel in modern cars acts as a coolant for the car’s fuel pump motor. If the fuel tank nears empty, the fuel pump can suck in air and overheat. 

Secondly, most tanks have naturally forming sediment. Allowing it to run low could cause this sediment to reach the fuel filter or injectors. Lastly, a low tank can have condensation, which introduces unwanted moisture to your fuel. This can be damaging, especially during colder temperatures. 

Woman posing at vintage gas station
Never let your gas tank go below half a tank to ensure you never run out of gas.

What Is the Best Day to Buy Gas?

There is no clear-cut answer for which day of the week is the best to buy gas, especially in every location. However, Gas Buddy, an app that helps locate the best fuel prices, indicates that for years, Monday has been the most consistent day to find the lowest price for the week.

As recently as 2021, Gas Buddy’s study concluded that Friday could also be a good day of the week to find the average lowest price for gas.

On the other end of the spectrum, Thursday and Saturday appear to be two of the worst days to fill up.

Pro Tip: Learn more on how to use the GasBuddy App on your next adventure.

How Often Does the Average Person Get Gas?

The average person in the United States gets gas for their car roughly every week to 10 days. This obviously varies quite a bit from person to person. It depends on the size of their vehicle’s gas tank, how far and how frequently they drive, and what type of gas mileage their car gets.

Should You Fill Up at Half a Tank?

The benefits of following the Gas Rule and consistently filling up at half a tank far outweigh the drawbacks.

The cost savings of those that argue for or against following the half-tank fill-up rule are mostly a wash. The benefits and drawbacks to pricing and fuel efficiency are negligible. The benefit is the safety of operating your vehicle, knowing that you have a generous fuel supply should unforeseen circumstances arise. 

It doesn’t cost any more or less to keep your vehicle on the top end of the tank. So why risk running empty? Why not make it a habit to operate with the tank closer to full? Thus, you’ll alleviate the stress of eventually facing an inconvenient or dangerous situation?

7 Other Useful Gas Station Tips

  1. Opt for Off-Peak Hours: Try filling up your tank during early mornings or late evenings. During these times, gas stations are typically less busy, reducing your wait time. Moreover, when it’s cooler outside, gasoline is denser, so you might get a bit more fuel for your money.
  2. Check Your Surroundings: Before filling up, check the overall safety and cleanliness of the station. Ensure that there are no spilled fuels or other obvious hazards. If you’re filling up at night, pick well-lit and busy stations.
  3. Avoid Stations Near Highways: Gas stations directly off major highways or in tourist-heavy areas tend to have higher prices due to the convenience factor. If you can, drive a few miles away from these areas to potentially find cheaper fuel.
  4. Use Loyalty Programs: Many gas stations have rewards or loyalty programs that offer discounts on fuel. Some credit cards also have partnerships with certain gas chains to offer cash back or points for fuel purchases.
  5. Handle the Nozzle Properly: When you’re done pumping, let the nozzle drain into your tank for a few seconds to get all the fuel you’ve paid for. Moreover, avoid overfilling your tank; stop when the nozzle automatically shuts off.
  6. Turn Off Your Engine: For safety reasons, always ensure your engine is off while refueling. This reduces the risk of fire. Additionally, avoid using your cell phone or other electronic devices, as there’s a (though very small) potential for static electricity to ignite fuel vapors.
  7. Regularly Check Tire Pressure: Many gas stations have air pumps to check and adjust your tire pressure. Proper tire pressure improves gas mileage, reduces tire wear, and increases safety. It’s a good habit to check your tire pressure monthly or even every time you fill up, especially if you’re planning a long drive.

Remember, while these tips can enhance your gas station experience, always prioritize safety and adhere to all the guidelines and warnings provided by the station.

Will you follow this Gas Rule and drive with a little more peace of mind? Tell us in the comments!

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