Running on empty could be more costly than filling the tank -- even with high gas prices

News4Jax Reporter Corley Peel explains how waiting to the last minute to fill up can cost even more money.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As gas prices skyrocket, more drivers are holding off filling up their tanks.

“I’m at 20 miles to ‘E’ right now,” said driver Alice Gordon.

“If you look right now, I’m below the red. I would have run out of gas another 2 miles,” said driver Scott Marquis.

Many people are now changing their lifestyles to afford roughly $5 a gallon.

“I rarely go out socially anymore and I’m about to go do Uber Eats right now so I can make extra money, for gas,” said Gordon.

“We own a painting company. It’s a family business, and we’ve lost 40% of business because of gas prices,” said Marquis.

Avoiding the pump is also landing more drivers stranded on the side of the road.

AAA said it responded to 200,000 out-of-gas calls from January to April. That is 150,000 more than the same time last year.

Aaron Nelson with Aaron’s Car Care said keeping your fuel pump cool is key.

“What it does is it exposes the pump to high temperatures because it’s not submerged so if you chronically run your car low, let’s say under a quarter of a tank, it definitely reduces the life of the pump because the pump is constantly overheating,” said Nelson.

Waiting to the last minute to fill up at the gas station could actually cost you more money than filling up in the first place.

“To replace a pump on a lot of these cars, you could spend $600, $800 sometimes $1,000 to replace a pump,” said Nelson.

To maximize your miles per gallon, AAA suggests:

  • Cleaning your air filter
  • Changing your oil routinely
  • Having air in your tires

Marquis said paying for a full tank of gas is not common anymore.

“I’m only getting $15 today and I have plenty of money to get more, but I have to use it for food and other bills,” said Marquis.

To keep your car healthy, Nelson suggests filling up before the gas light comes on.

AAA said high gas prices aren’t the only blame for more stranded drivers. Experts said it can also be a sign that current traffic volumes have returned to pre-pandemic levels.