Empty Tank Blues: What to Do If You Run Out of Gas – Lexington, KY

It’s been well over a decade since I received my driver’s license. As you might imagine, that day was a joyous one for me. But, for my dad, I’m absolutely certain it was one he’d been dreading since I was still an alien-like creature in the womb.

I may be entirely wrong about this, but I think my dad would’ve been less mad if I’d punched a high school classmate in the face than if I’d gotten a minor ding on my car door back then. I feared my dad’s reaction to even the slightest driving infraction listed on the contract I was required to sign, one that included unique punishments for each offense (including applying mascara whilst in motion). For real, being behind the wheel was a serious business. And my dad was the boss.

Fast-forward into my early twenties, a time when I saw my dad on a less frequent basis as a college student living two hours away from home. On a sunny, summer day, he and I meet at the Michigan International Speedway to enjoy his sixtieth birthday gift: His shot at driving on a NASCAR track at top speeds of 160 MPH. Now, as soon as I pulled into the speedway, my 2008 GMC Envoy’s little gas icon lit up to notify me it was thirsty and would need to be replenished within, what I believed, 40 miles of my trek back to campus post-race. No big deal.

I could have run out of gas at school with a friend as a co-pilot. And I could have decided not to call my dad in a moment of panic all those years ago when I got pulled over for doing 20 MPH above the speed limit, only to not receive a ticket when the officer returned to the driver’s window of a very teary 16-year-old. Alas, both of these events could’ve happened without my dad’s knowledge. But fate had its way with me on this day that will forever live in infamy as, with my dad in the passenger seat headed for a post-race celebratory lunch, I made it all of about 100 feet out of my parking space before my tank declared it was fully empty. I’ll spare you the details of what occurred next, but I’m sure you can figure it out.

While most of today’s vehicles have the ability to go up to 40 miles on empty (NOT THE 2008 GMC ENVOY, APPARENTLY), it’s still unsafe to push the limits of that little needle – especially if you’re alone, in an unfavorable area or, as my dad always reminds me, during the chilly winter months when your tank can freeze. But, as you know, these things happen when you least expect them. (Like when your dad is in the passenger seat.) Here’s how to remain safe if you, too, run out of gas:

9 Steps to Follow After Running Out of Gas

  1. Immediately turn your hazard lights on.
  2. Put your car in neutral and exit when traffic allows.
  3. Use the steering wheel to guide your car out of harm’s way and set emergency brake.
  4. Use a map or information from a smartphone to determine the nearest gas station.
  5. Call for help, whether it’s friends or family, your insurance company’s roadside assistance service or, as a last resort, 911.
  6. If the above resources are unable to help by offering you a ride or bringing you a can of gas, notify them of your situation and whereabouts before walking to or accepting a ride from a stranger to a gas station.
  7. Replenish fuel and allow for a few cranks of the engine before fully starting.


Unlike the Envoy formerly known as my automobile, the 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe boasts a whole lot more brains under the hood – and in its tank, too. The Active ECO System delivers an EPA-estimated 25 MPG highway fuel efficiency, and even improves the transmission’s performance to help you get the most miles out of each and every gallon of gas. And if you do hit empty in a 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe, at least it’s got an available navigation system to guide you to the nearest pump with ease. Visit Glenn Hyundai in Lexington to check out the entire lineup of fuel efficient Hyundais, and be sure to share your most cringe- and anxiety-inducing teen-parent driving story in the comments section below!