2012 Toyota Camry - OK to run nearly empty

I generally run my car until the low fuel light comes on and within 25 miles fill up. My Camry XLE, four cylinder has 105,00 miles on it. Will this cause me any problems. I hear different schools of thought on this from different motorheads that I know.

Thanks Very Much !!

First of all I consider this a poor practice . With all the weather related problems lately I never let my fuel level get below 1/2 tank. A power loss and the need to travel means if you are that low on fuel you might not get far enough to be safe. Also the fuel cools the fuel pump so just change your thinking . At least refuel at the 1/4 mark


Do you know how big your fuel tank is? Hint, it is in your owners manual!

How much gas do you put in once you’ve driven those 25 miles?

Lets say your tank holds 15.5 gallons, you drive to the light plus 25 miles and you fill up with 13.5 gallons. You have 2 gallons left in the tank. That is a bit marginal, but OK.

Lets say you fill up with 14.5 gallons. You are only leaving 1 gallon in the tank. You risk sucking up some debris in the tank itself, you risk overheating the fuel pump because the fuel cools it, you risk the car stalling at a light on a hill and as @VOLVO_V70 suggests, you risk getting stranded.

This practice got you this far, if you are pushing it down to 1 gallon, stop that. 2 gallons, the risk is on you. I’d fill it when the light goes on.


I have a 2012 Camry, on a trip, I fuel up within 25 miles of the light coming on. I have never been able to get more than 13.5 gallons in my 17 gallon tank. You will be fine.


I have run cars and motorcycles out of gas many times (long ago) and have never replaced a fuel pump. My 1961 Volkswagen had no gas gauge, just a reserve. When the motor started to stumble, you flipped a lever with your foot, and could go another 40 miles or so. So in effect, that car ran out of gas routinely. It never got a fuel pump either.

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The electric fuel pump in the gas tank relies on the gasoline in the gas tank to cool it.

When the gas tank is run very low, the gas heats up in the gas tank from the gas from the return line from the engine back to the gas tank.

So the lower the gas level, the hotter the gas in the gas tank becomes.

That’s one reason why I don’t allow the gas in my gas tanks get too low.


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And the purpose for doing that is? I rarely go below 1/2 tank before filling up. I’ve been stuck in too many traffic jams and snow storms to ever let the low fuel light come on.


Not sure how a 58 year old car related to today’s cars with high pressure fuel pumps that are cooled by the gasoline. Same with motorcycles.

I prefer to fill at 1/4 tank, plenty of safety margin.


IMO letting the fuel level get really low is theoretically a bad thing to do, as it could stress the fuel pump and fuel system a bit, but I somewhat do it and never had a problem on my Corolla. I generally refill with about 1/8 of a tank. I rarely if ever let it get to the point the engine starts to sputter.

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After all the problems with fuel pump failure we had with our 88 Plymouth Grand Voyager we’ve all gotten into the habit of filling up well before the warning light comes on. 1/8 of a tank is the lowest i’ll let it go if I don’t fill up at 1/4 tank. I have let it go until the warning light but usually plan better and leave with a full tank even if i probably won’t need it for the trip.

Fuel pumps in the 1980’s were less tolerant to low fuel conditions, they hung open inside the fuel tank. Fuel pumps since the 1990’s are contained inside a reservoir so they are always submerged in fuel.

I fill my tank every two weeks when I visit Costco, sometimes the low fuel light is on, it takes about 8.5 gallons with an 11 gallon tank. The fear of damaging a fuel pump will last 50 years.

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It has made most of us a little paranoid i’ll admit but better safe than needing the tow truck, the 1990 Mazda Protoge that mom drove for 19yrs rarely if ever needed more than 12 gallons to fill the 14 gallon tank.

Do you have any family or friends that you might need to transport to the hospital in a hurry? If so, you risk being unable to do that.

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An electric fuel pump will not be damaged as long as it has fuel flowing through it. The minute that an engine starts bucking due to fuel starvation THEN the pump damage will begin.

You can do as you please but I think that running on a prayer is bad policy. As mentioned, running out of gas during a medical emergency could make you regret doing this.

I just remembered another potential problem and this is one I discovered many years ago on one of my Lincolns. My wife and I went to TX to visit my daughter and the Low Fuel light came on about 2 miles from her house. No big deal; I’ll fill up on the way home.

On the way home the car would not start. I had parked along the edge of the street with the passenger side higher than the driver side. The remaining 2 gallons of fuel settled on the left side of the tank while the pump is on the right. So off with a jug to get 2 more gallons of gas to fix the no-start condition. This could be a problem for you even if there were no medical emergency.

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I blew the fuel pump on a 97 Tahoe by running it down to a low tank.
I recommend refueling before you get down to the 1/4 full mark.

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That vintage of GM trucks/SUVs had terrible fuel pumps. My dad and I both had trucks of that vintage, and I bet we went through 6 total fuel pumps over a 10 year period.


1961 VWs did not have electric pumps in the tank that required fuel to cool them.
Mechanical fuel pumps do not suffer, on bikes, tractors, boats, and in my case my lawn mower to shut off the fuel supply and let the engine run until the engine dies.

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Actually I often go against the manufacturer recommendations on small engines and leave the gas in. I use only non-oxy gas with a stabilizer but I’m not sure I like the carb sitting dry. It seems like the seals dry out and deposits form on the jets. On the blower I usually do run it dry from season to season. Waiting for the snow to for sure end this year though first.

Last night, in the midst of incredible, torrential rains that lasted for several hours, a friend of mine had to leave home to attend a “mandatory” awards ceremony at work. He was fortunate that he had 1/2 a tank of gas when he left the house, because a major accident on the interstate caused him to sit in a massive traffic jam for an hour. No, he couldn’t shut the engine off because he needed to run the defogger.

Once the traffic finally started to move, he found that his exit was closed for debris removal, and he had to drive to the next exit–which is about 25 miles away–and then negotiate his way back toward his destination. By the time that he got home late at night from his mandatory ceremony, his “low fuel” light was on. If he hadn’t started that odyssey with at least 1/2 a tank of gas, he undoubtedly would have run out of gas somewhere… during a torrential rainstorm.

Even if someone believes that he/she won’t have to transport anyone during a medical emergency, nobody is immune to massive traffic tie-ups, which–of course–are unpredictable. As the Boy Scouts used to tell us… Be prepared… and that includes NOT driving for any length of time with a low level in your gas tank.

There’s also the possibility that what may be true one time may not be the next. My old Mercury always had about 2 gallons remaining when the Low Fuel lamp came on.

On my way to Ponca City, OK once the Low Fuel light came on 4 miles outside of town. No problem as there is a gas station on the outskirts of town. About a 100 yards away from the station the car ran out of gas and I coasted the remaining distance to the pumps. Apparently in that one particular instance the LF light came on when there was a pint remaining.

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