Sure, Jackson Browne's "Running On Empty" is a classic tune, but it's a really terrible way live your life, don't you think?

There are more than enough anxiety-causing things that pop up in our lives on a daily and/or weekly basis, so why add the fear of being stranded on the side of the road with an empty gas tank when that scenario is pretty easy to avoid by just keeping your gauge above "E."

But, hey, you're busy. It can happen, I get it. To avoid it happening, let's take a look at how far (on average) you can drive after your car's fuel gauge gas-pump icon lights up and chirps at you.

A young woman sitting on the ground next to a gas can by a car.
At least she forgot to watch her gas gauge in the summer. (Getty Images)

There's No Real Universal Answer To The Question Of How Far You Can Drive After The Gas Light Comes On Because Of The Many Different Types Of Vehicles Out There, But There Is A General Rule Of Thumb

According to a recent Reader's Digest piece, the size, make, and model of your vehicle plays a big factor in whether or not you'll have to go walking for gas if and when you run out:

There’s not a standard number of miles you can drive when the gas light comes on, says automotive electrician and road safety expert Robert Muñoz. “Typically, it will light up when the tank is below 10% to 15% of its capacity.” In general, after the gas light comes on, Muñoz says it’s safe to drive about 20 to 30 miles in a smaller vehicle or up to 50 miles in a larger vehicle.

Yes, the type of car you have makes a big difference. A car with a 10-gallon gas tank might have one gallon remaining when the light comes on. A Ram 1500 truck, however, will have around three to four gallons of gas left.

Young man filling empty gas tank in his pickup with a gas can
Another way to enjoy mile after magnificent mile of Illinois. (Getty Images)

If Only There Was A Chart Or Something That You Could Look At That Would Tell You How Far Your Particular Vehicle Can Go Once The Gas Light Comes On...Oh, Wait

Over at, they've got piece on how many miles the top 50 selling cars can make it once they've hit empty on the fuel gauge:

The chart, put together by YourMechanic, lists the 50 best-selling cars in the United States. The chart might be for the 2015 model year, but most new and older cars will be similar. There's also a trend to pay attention to if your car isn't listed: when the fuel light comes on, nearly every single car has two to three gallons of fuel left. For certain cars, and depending on how you drive, you could have nearly 100 miles until you're literally running on fumes.

YourMechanic, Facebook
YourMechanic, Facebook

LOOK: See how much gasoline cost the year you started driving

To find out more about how has the price of gas changed throughout the years, Stacker ran the numbers on the cost of a gallon of gasoline for each of the last 84 years. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (released in April 2020), we analyzed the average price for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline from 1976 to 2020 along with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for unleaded regular gasoline from 1937 to 1976, including the absolute and inflation-adjusted prices for each year.

Read on to explore the cost of gas over time and rediscover just how much a gallon was when you first started driving.

Gallery Credit: Sophia Crisafulli

LOOK: See the iconic cars that debuted the year you were born

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