The Distance That a Car Can Travel on an ‘Empty’ Tank is Actually Pretty High

I’m willing to bet many of you will start to panic once the fuel warning light comes up, and there’s no petrol station anywhere nearby. Maybe not the more experienced drivers. Maybe not even some of the newer drivers, considering how small Singapore actually is.

You know what, maybe none of you panic.

But considering the warning light is supposed to warn you of an imminent empty tank, most people would assume the car might stop at any time if they don’t head straight for a petrol station.

In fact, some would probably refuel before the light even comes up.

But we all know that the car can still move certain distance before it completely runs out of petrol and leave you stranded in the middle of BKE, especially so when back in the past, people did not have smartphones with them.

But the question is how long?

Car Manufacturers Already Thought of the Issue

Of course car manufacturers have thought of that problem before. This means the warning lights are designed to light up when there’s more fuel in the tank (more of in the reserve tank; read on) than you think.

Well, not to the extent of driving all the way to KL, but enough for you to drive, say, the whole of PIE at least twice.

YourMechanic came up with a handy table for top selling cars, detailing just how much fuel is left in the tank when the light comes up, and just how far you can still go.


Even the shortest distance is a surprising 25 miles or roughly 40 km (which is a Chevrolet Silverado that isn’t available in Singapore). The longest distance is an incredible 180 km!

For common cars in Singapore like the Toyota Corolla or Kia Optima, even the lowest distance that can be travelled after that is 48 km or 96 km. Just for your info, the longest expressway in Singapore, the PIE, is only at 42.8 km.

And any driver would know that petrol stations in Singapore are only a couple of kilometres apart, and definitely not more than 40 km apart.

So no worries here; if your car is signalling you to refuel, there is absolutely no reason to panic at all. Just calmly drive to the petrol station without bursting a blood vessel.

However, do take note that it is quite harmful to drive frequently on an ‘Empty’ tank, as your catalytic converter or your fuel pump may get damaged by any contamination or debris at the bottom of your gas tank (which settles naturally there).

Why Like That?

The logic is simple: there’s always a reserve tank in a car that carries about 10% to 15% of the overall tank capability; before you could even touch the petrol in the reserve tank, the refuel light would have lit up.

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And the reason? It’s of course to prevent you from being stranded in the middle of nothing lah.


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