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Here's how running on fumes can damage your vehicle

Mechanics say you shouldn't let your gasoline drop below a quarter of a tank

ATLANTA — Automobile mechanics say drivers are putting their vehicles at risk by trying to squeeze every drop out of a tank of gas.

At the QT on Sidney Marcus Boulevard, Woodland Ducatell admits he often drives on less than a quarter tank while looking for the cheapest gasoline he can find. Sometimes he allows the red light to flash on his dashboard telling him he’s dropped dangerously close to empty.

“I’ve seen the red light go off and depending on what part of Atlanta I’m in, I’ll go 'red light flashing, I can stretch it,'” he told 11Alive.

With gasoline in metro-Atlanta averaging near $5 a gallon, it’s understandable but automobile mechanics say running below a quarter tank is a risky move.

Gasoline cools and lubricates the fuel pump located inside your gas tank. When your vehicle gets below a quarter of a tank, it stresses the pump.

“You can burn a fuel pump up that way,” mechanic R.J. Stone of BP Auto Care in Midtown explained. “It won’t happen instantly. It does take time, but you are shortening the life of that fuel pump."

Stone added that debris can collect at the bottom of a gas tank. If the gas level gets too low, it can pick up that debris and send it into the fuel pump and fuel line to the engine.

“It could be costly to repair,” he added. 

As far as drivers running out of fuel, AAA’s Montrae Waiters said calls from stranded motorists needing fuel make up less than 2% of the auto club’s overall calls for assistance.

Still, mechanics say you don’t have to run dry to encounter issues.

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