Updated: What to do when you run out of petrol

Running out of petrol can be a frustrating situation, especially if you’re in a dangerous area or you’re in a hurry to get somewhere. Easily the most frustrating part of running out of petrol is the fact that you could have avoided this problem altogether by stopping for 5 minutes to put petrol in! 
If you get stranded on the side of the road because you’ve run out of petrol, follow these steps:

Your biggest concern of your vehicle runs out of petrol should be safety, especially if you are on a highway and you are forced to pull over on the side of the road. Other road users on the highway are driving between 100 to 120kph. If your car starts spluttering, turn on your hazards to alert other drivers.

Remember, if you think you are about to run out of fuel and you are driving on a highway, drive in the lane closest to the yellow lane, so that you don’t have to swerve across three or four lanes to get to the side of the road if your vehicle is out of petrol.

Conserve petrol by turning off the air conditioner and try to drive at around 30 to 45kph. If you have an old car, it might make sense to put the car in neutral while you “coast” along, but for newer cars, this is not necessary or even advisable. 

If your car is about to stop, make sure you’re parked safely in the yellow lane and keep your hazards on. Try to call a family member or friend, who can go fill up an empty 5-litre water bottle with petrol and bring it to where you are stationary with your vehicle. Even if they can’t help you, at least let someone know where you are. 

If you’re unable to contact friends or family, consider contacting a roadside assistance company. Many insurers include this service as part of their offering. Did you know that a Service Plan or Maintenance Plan through MotorHappy includes roadside assistance? If you run out of petrol, we will dispatch a contractor with a canister of fuel for your vehicle so you can reach the nearest petrol station and re-fuel your vehicle. 

Did you know you can also have fuel delivered to you? Download a fuel delivery app and see if you’re in a location where you can receive petrol. 

The more times a vehicle runs out of fuel, the higher the possibility of damaging the vehicle’s fuel pump system. The age of the vehicle is also very important. This is because older cars eventually build up old fuel debris at the bottom of the fuel tank, which is usually blocked by fuel filters. When your vehicle runs out of fuel, it drains every last bit of fuel and can even manage to get the old dirty fuel particles in the fuel pump system, which could cause it to clog the whole fuel system. Once the fuel system is blocked, the vehicle will struggle to start once new fuel has been added back into the fuel tank, generally, if the vehicle does not start then the fuel lines and fuel pump will have to be checked by a mechanic.

Above all, stay calm if you find yourself in this situation. Prevention is the best approach – try to always check that you have enough petrol to complete your journey and also make sure your phone is fully charged so can call for help if necessary. 

Remain vigilant of your surroundings while you wait for help to come. If there’s somewhere safe for you to stay until help arrives, be careful when getting out your car, and be careful when getting out the car and moving around the car. It might be safer to exit through the passenger door. Lock the car, and take all your belongings with you. If you’re not going to be in eyeshot of the roadside assist vehicle, alert them about your whereabouts. 

Previous Article

SA’s new driving laws: Everything you need to know

Next Article

New BMW 5 Series debuts with revived styling, new hybrid options

Need more help?

We're here to help.
Your privacy is important to us. To demonstrate our commitment, please refer to the MotorHappy notification which communicates how we process your personal information to comply with legislation.
Related Article