How to Start Your Car After Running Out of Gas

Gas tank empty? Learn how to start your car.
Gas tank empty? Learn how to start your car.

Running Out of Gas Safety Tip

Running out of gas in your car is far more serious than many people think. It can cause damage to your car that may cause hundreds of dollars or more to fix.

When you run out of gas in your car, there are a number of parts of the vehicle that can be damaged. For example, running a car without gas can damage the fuel pump, fuel filter, or push dirt throughout the fuel line of the vehicle.

A good practice to keep in mind to help protect yourself from the risk of running out of gas is always filling up your tank anytime the fuel indicator falls below 1/4 a tank. This way, you can always drive with peace of mind, rather than getting nervous when the indicator begins to head toward that scary empty red line.

Restarting Your Car After Running Out of Gas

When your car starts to show signs of being empty (pressing the gas pedal does nothing and the car is slowing) pull over as soon as possible and shut off your engine. A fuel pump can burn up very quickly with no gas left in the tank.

Now, you'll need to look for the nearest gas station. This may require asking someone else or researching a bit on your phone, if it comes with that capability. You might need to hail a cab or just walk, if it's close enough.

After you've left your car, walked a few miles, purchased a small gas can, filled it up and walked back to your vehicle, you'll need to be careful about getting the gas back into your car. Gasoline is a strong chemical that isn't the best for car paint. Try your best to keep the gas going into the tank when filling up your car with a gas can.

After you've put in a gallon or two (the more the better) into your vehicle, you can get ready to start your car. However before you do anything you'll want to check a few things:

  • Special instructions. Find your car owner's manual and check to see if it has special instructions about starting your car after you've ran out of gas. Sometimes a vehicle will have a fuel injection reset button that you may have been set after your car ran out of gas.
  • Priming the engine. Depending on the type of car you drive (check before taking any action), you may need to prime the engine by providing some fuel to the carburetor, or turning your car own and off a few times for the fuel pump to push fuel into the engine.

After you've checked up on your car manual's instructions for starting the car after running out of gas, give the car some gas by pumping the gas pedal and then turn the key to start the ignition.

If all is well, your car will start right up. If you continue to struggle, something may be damaged in your vehicle and you'll need to check with a mechanic. Pick up the cell phone and call a tow truck.

Have you ever ran out of gas?

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Comments 11 comments

sord87 6 years ago

If your car running out of gas ,after filling up you can start your car anytime,it won't burn the fuel pump,what you should do is to start using the car key and do not press the gas pedal for few minutes as to let the fuel pump running,start the car without pumping the gas pedal until it starts.If you keep pumping the gas pedal it will make the engine overflow and very hard to make it start.

ab420 profile image

ab420 6 years ago from MA, USA

I've run out of gas before, and just put gas in and started it. I don't think there's any special method to it, is there?

Latro profile image

Latro 6 years ago Author

You've been lucky, often, if you don't be careful you'll burn out the fuel pump and have a large bill to repair the car and get it running again.

Fuel Tank 6 years ago

Well, I have this kind of experience with our old jeep. As I have remembered, my grandpa shook the jeep. He said, that was for the gasoline-- so that it can pour faster to the engine

KLeichester 6 years ago

I like this post. I find it interesting. Thank you so much.

Keif 5 years ago

Grr,,,My car ran out of fuel and then i went walking brought fuel and then i poured it into the fuel tank ($15).Now i turn on the ignition key, it started for the first time and then stopped. From then until now, it is cranking but not starting. Hope i did not mess with it now...Any suggestions

Ron 5 years ago

Awesome hub thanks for the info

alex 5 years ago

you can plugge the injectore with the filf that goes thro the gas line

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bdizzle99 4 years ago from Bethesda, MD

Great post, Latro! When we talked a few weeks ago you were interested in what I was writing about for The Academic Advantage... just wanted to let you know that this is the link:

Angie 2 years ago

Ran my 2003chevy tb out of gas now it runs bad and has a strong gas smell

bones58gdi 5 months ago

If you do run out of gas - the On/Off cycle without going to the ignition mode is great advice - it should initiate the fuel pump. Also once you get it going - take it in for fuel system service when you can. Running out of gas will suck the dregs (sediment) of the tank into the system. Run half a tank of premium through the engine if nothing else.

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