Ask a Technician: How Accurate is My Gas Gauge?

April 21st, 2016 by

Gas Gauge

Q. How accurate is the gauge in my car that tells me how many more miles I can drive before I run out of gas?

A. Try it and find out. We double-dog dare you! Okay, we don’t actually recommend that.

Drivers of older cars have to rely on old-fashioned gas gauges with only a bobbing needle between them and the sputtering sound of a car running out of gas. Those of you with a newer car have the help of the new trip computers that tell you exactly how many miles you have until your tank is dry. But are they accurate? Well, yes and no.

Trip computers are nifty little gadgets that track your distance traveled, fuel consumption, average fuel consumption and speed. This little doohickey takes all of that information and calculates how much further you can stretch your current gas. That’s represented by the “miles to empty” readout. And it can be pretty accurate, if you drive exactly the same way you have been under the same conditions. But if you’ve been driving 55 mph with the A/C off across the flatlands and suddenly gun it to 70 mph up a hill with the A/C blasting, that “miles to empty” number is going to go down fast.

Your car may not be completely and totally out of gas at the zero mile mark. You might have a reserve still in the tank. Think of it as a “close call” buffer. But it’s better not to tempt fate, so it’s always a good idea to fill up before you get near the zero mark. Stay tuned for more answers from the service technicians at Mercedes-Benz of Princeton.

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