Fuel if you think it’s over

This tale of woe begins Monday, when:

Tuesday: same sort of wind. I didn’t even try.

Which brings us to Wednesday, and the appearance of the dreaded orange Low Fuel Light. (For some reason, all the warning lights I really hate seem to be orange.) At that precise moment, I was two blocks from that gas station.

I pulled in and filled up. The pump clicked off at just under 15 gallons.

A previous experience with the dreaded orange Low Fuel Light:

There is no gas to be had between Carlsbad, New Mexico and the eastern edge of El Paso, around 150 miles. And you will burn up most of what you have: once you cross back into Texas, the speed limit is mostly 75, and while it’s slowed down a bit through the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, there are enough downhill grades to threaten your placid, law-abiding nature. Not that I’d ever admit to doing 95 through there.

Actually, I did find one station, a little cash-only outfit south of Dell City, but (1) they had no premium, or even mid-grade, and (2) they were closed.

And just inside the eastern edge of El Paso, there was a truck stop, and I drizzled just about 15 gallons into the tank at somewhere on the wrong side of four bucks a gallon.

Filling up for $60ish was painful enough — this week’s haul was $2.419 a gallon, $36 total — but the real zinger was verifying in all of Nissan’s service materials that the tank holds 70 liters.

Which, duly rounded, is 18.5 gallons.

So I’m getting this damnfool light with about 75 miles left.

If nothing else, this is an argument for one of those newfangled electric cars, none of which are reported to be that egregiously inaccurate.


  1. McGehee »

    24 January 2019 · 1:25 pm

    Can you imagine the lawsuits if the fuel light and speedometer weren’t miscalibrated to be overly conservative?

    “My speedometer said I was right at the posted limit but the trooper clocked me at three over!”

    “The fuel light was supposed to come on with 50 miles’ driving range but I ran out two miles short of the exit!”

  2. Chuck Pergiel »

    24 January 2019 · 1:37 pm

    My wife’s Mitsubishi gives you an estimate of miles left. I like that. My Hyundai has a low fuel warning light that comes on when the needle shows empty, which is a little unsettling, especially when I have 50 miles to travel before I reach a neighborhood with cheap gas.

  3. McGehee »

    24 January 2019 · 4:22 pm

    I don’t know about Mrs. McG’s Honda hybrid, but on my Ford the fuel light coming on takes over the VID and gives a running count of how many miles I can supposedly drive on what I have left in the tank. It always starts at 50, but I’ve noticed it counts just a wee bit slower than my odometer.

    I think the Chrysler van my late mother-in-law had also did that, though the fuel light may have come on with a different estimate.

  4. CGHill »

    24 January 2019 · 5:35 pm

    My previous car didn’t have quite so much range; I first saw the light on the Cross-Bronx Expressway, and I just barely made it to Greenwich, Connecticut.

  5. fillyjonk »

    24 January 2019 · 6:07 pm

    That’s actually helpful to know. I’ve never gotten to the “low fuel light” in my car but I would have been hyperventilating if I had (thinking I had, like, less than a quarter gallon of gas left). (My usual MO is to fill up at half a tank, though today every gas station I drove past was busy, so I put it off. Tomorrow will probably be worse…)

    One thing I learned on past jaunts into Western Oklahoma for field trips or conferences: you stop to get gas when you can, instead of waiting until you need it. (The same is true for stopping to pee.) There’s an awful lot of “nothing” up around Chickasha and environs.

  6. McGehee »

    24 January 2019 · 6:15 pm

    Try driving down the Alaska Highway in a truck that barely gets 11 mpg.

    We did pass some gas stations on the Alaska side, but Yukon and northern B.C. were a different matter.

  7. hollyh »

    25 January 2019 · 8:16 am

    I could care less how my low-fuel light is calibrated. As wildly-liberal as I may seem, I am a Little Old Lady from Pasadena, when it comes to gas tank stops. Like FJ, I never let it go below a quarter-tank.

  8. Roger Green »

    26 January 2019 · 5:45 am

    Our cars have NEVER seen that light. My bride never lets it get less than 1/4 tank

  9. ms7168 »

    27 January 2019 · 6:31 am

    The new cars eschew the low fuel light. They give you by golly the number of miles you have left and it is also a conservative figure. My niece has exceeded it just for jollies and found she could go quite a bit further. They also when you get that low offer to find a gas station for you!

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