How empty beforefill?

I start shopping for gas when it drops to 1/2.
My mother’s father’s 1963 Chevy II never saw 1/2 full.
When it went below 1/4 he would buy $1 worth (when gas was 0.29 per gallon).
When the gauge on my father’s Pontiac LeMans got down to 3/4 full he’d fill up with American 100 octane lead-free.

People were falling for the higher octane is better myth way back then? I think it burns a bit more slowly and actually gives you slightly worse mileage.

Ah yes, the joys of GM fuel pumps. Both my GM cars, one a 1987 Olds and one a 2007 Chevy, had multiple failed fuel pumps.

By the time the Olds Ciera was twenty years old it was on its fourth fuel pump and making familiar starting to fail noises.

At seven years and 54k miles the Chevy Impala was on its second fuel pump and it was starting to fail.

I was sadly familiar with the sound of failing GM fuel pumps.

In comparison, the 1973 Toyota Corolla was still on its original fuel pump for sixteen years. And my current 2014 Toyota Camry still has its original fuel pump. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Normally, I rarely run below half a tank although I have gone down to only a quarter tank a few times.

I also had an early lesson in not letting gas get too low. In college, one weekend I’d gone to visit my aunt and was headed back to campus, gas tank pegged on empty. Stopped at a truck stop to fill up about 10:30 p.m. A drunk creep started aggressively pestering me. Fortunately, a trucker intervened. I have never again let my gas tank get low enough I have to gas up late at night.

The one time I did run out of gas was when the float inside the tank on the '87 Olds broke and the gas gauge would stick showing the tank half to three-quarters full no matter how low the gas tank was.

While waiting for the part to come in for the shop to replace the float and the failing third fuel pump, one day my dad and I swapped cars for some reason I now forget. I had no idea he would drive the car several hundred miles that day. The next day the gas ran dry at rush hour in the middle of the busiest street in my end of the county. Neither I nor other drivers were amused.

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When my brother was a college freshman, he would let the gas tank of his '54 Ford run very low, so that he could fill-up at the cheapest no-name gas station in a distant town on his way home from campus. Finally, that habit backfired on him when he ran out of gas in the middle of the NJ Meadowlands–which was then a wasteland with no gas stations or much of anything else.

The only structure anywhere near where he ran out of gas was the transmitter for a NYC radio station, so he trekked there on a narrow boardwalk over the swampy terrain. Luckily, the guy on duty at the transmitter was friendly, and he filled a jerry can with some gas from the transmitter’s emergency generator. That was the last time that my brother ran his gas tank so low.

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We’ve had six GM cars and never had a fuel pump failure. The same is true for three Fords, three Hondas, one BW, and one Porsche.

I guess I’m fairly lucky. Except for my '74 Volvo, I’ve never had a fuel pump failure, and the other marques include a Dodge, a VW, a Chevy, two Fords, a Honda, and 3 Subarus. My brother has owned a couple of GMs, a Ford, a Plymouth, a Mitsubishi, a couple of Toyotas, and a Hyundai, and he has never had a fuel pump failure.

Heh, heh, my only fuel pump failure. Bought a used CJ5 with the 304 V8, drove it one block from the dealership, fuel pump failed.
Pushed it back to the dealer, had another 304 on the lot, we swapped out the fuel pumps there and then. No further problems.

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How lucky only a block away.
How long to identify that it was the fuel pump? Not submerged in the gas tank?

A friend was keeping a fuel/mileage log.
So I started sneakingasoline into his GMC Carryall with toilet paper oil filter.
He finally discovered that his full gauge was not going down as would bexpected and thoughthat it had failed.
But according to his mileage log, he was getting close to 40 mpg!

There are two issues being discussed.

One is technical. When the fuel level in the tank gets low enough so that the pump blades are exposed to air, and risk getting damaged. There isn’t a lot to debate here.

The second is purely personal opinion over how far do you let your tank empty before you refill it. Some are cautious and some live close to the edge. Different preferences, but neither is wrong.

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“They ran farther to the left of the slash thanyonever dreamed”!

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As long as there is enough gas in the tank to keep the pump filled and circulating with no air pockets the pump will stay cooled just fine.

I generally fill up around 1/4 tank unless I’m on the out west back roads (which I prefer) and then around the 1/2 tank mark due to gas station spacing and station closures.

Me and 2 buddies on a motorcycle trip once out in western KS were all running low (2 on 1 gallon reserve and one guy with a 1/2 gallon left. Every station in the small town closed (11 at night) and next town was 35 miles away. Had to fish a beer can out of the trash and pirate gas from our bikes to enable him to make it.


Could you have drained fuel from the gasoline pump hoses?
Or do the nozzle valves no longer allow that? Or are the nozzles locked to the pump?

Both of my rivieras and the aurora had fuel pump issues. Toward the end it was an annual event almost to the day. At 20k my park ave started making noise but never failed. Other Gm s I had or have didn’t fail.

I’ve never had an electric fuel pump fail, but the mechanical fuel pump failed on my Ford truck at about year 40. Went to auto parts store, figuring 40 year old part, they’d need to order one for me. No. Staff guy doesn’t even need to get out of his chair, spins around and grabs the replacement right of the stock shelf. $15, something like that.

I couldn’t quite figure out how to replace the fuel pump w/out first removing power steering pump. Other than that, fairly simple job. Now I’ve done it, I think I could do it next time without removing PS pump. If current pump lasts as long as oem, I’ll be doing that job around age 100, not just a diy’er, but a ogdiy’er (og for “old geezer”) … lol … One plus to removing PS pump, finally learned what the phrase “jam nut” means.

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My barber had like a 38 Buick or something and needed a fuel pump. Couldn’t find one. Finally went to one of the old established parts store in town before they closed. You know the kind with dust all over everything. They had a brand new one old stock on hand. Probably with a 1940 price sticker on it yet.


Before my dad sold his Otasco store franchise he pulled a variety of spare parts from inventory for both the 1956 and 1965 Oldsmobiles my parents had. For whatever reason, long after both those cars were gone he still kept the several never used parts.

After he died, I asked here in the forum what to do with those parts. At the suggestion of several regulars I contacted the local Oldsmobile club and quickly found buyers for all those parts.


The Bosch electric fuel pump on my Volvo had to be replaced 3 or 4 times during the 7 years that I owned it. That was completely different from my other cars with electric fuel pumps, none of which ever failed. And, none of my cars with mechanical fuel pumps ever needed to have the pump replaced.