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Let my car run out of gas. Stalling after refill. Not sure how serious to take issue?

Gas is expensive and the empty light wasn’t on THAT long so I put off refilling until I had time to swing by a place that is a couple ten cents cheaper per gallon. When the time came to go refill, the car started fine and then sputtered and stalled a before I could turn my car around. Parked the car and in desperation pouted some gas from the lawnmower tank in hoping that it would get me down the street to put some gas in, but it still sputtered and stalled. So then I got a ride to the gas station to get a few gallons of gas that I knew was made for a car, and funneled it in. The engine still starts fine, sputters for a few seconds and stalls completely off when I start it. I decided to leave it parked for the night and see how things are in the morning.

I know nothing about cars and have never had unforseen problems that have forced me to be concerned with how little I know about my 2005 Mitsubishi Galant in particular. My question is: Is something more complicated wrong with my car now that I let it run out of gas entirely, or is this just something that happens after you put gas in a bottomed out tank? Or did I do my engine dirty putting whatever was in my landlord’s lawnmower can in my tank?

Its possible that your fuel filter sucked in a bunch of dirt/particles thereby causing it to choke off the fuel supply. The dirt/ could have been collecting in the bottom of your car’s tank the last 6 years or it could be gunk from the lawnmower gas you poured in. Either way it sounds like the fuel filter could be plugged up. This would cause the engine to stutter under load, or in your case stall soon after starting as there is too little fuel getting through. A new fuel filter is not too expensive. I’m not an expert but this seems like a likely cause.

If you are very lucky, you may simply have to start it again. When you ran out of fuel your fuel lines went empty. You may simply need to crank the engine a bit and wait for your fuel lines to re-fill before they can start feeding fuel to the engine. So try cranking it over again in the morning.

It’s possible but unlikely that you drew sediments from the bottom of the empty tank into your fuel filter. Unlikely because there is a “sock” around the bottom of your fuel pump that acts as a preliminary filter to keep any larger sediments out of the pump and fuel lines. Anything small enough to get through would have probably done so no matter how much or how little gas was in the tank.

The other thing that occurs to me is that the lawnmower engine gas contained two-cycle oil which contaminated the gas in your car. If that’s the case, it probably won’t hurt anything, but you’ll have to burn through most of a tank before the sputtering goes away for good.

Let us know what happens after you finish this tank full.

Time for a new FUEL FILTER…read the other posts above…

I generally agree with the above.  I would empties the idea of changing the fuel filter.  I would add that waiting to buy fuel until you are close to empty is not a good idea.

On some cars you can shorten the life of the fuel pump. 

In addition remember that you don't save money by buying fuel more often.  It is the same cost to buy it all at one time or buy it when you get to half full, but you might save money and bother buy refueling sooner.

Running out of gas can damage the fuel pump in the gas tank. The gas acts as a coolant/lubricant on the wetted parts of the fuel pump. If the fuel pump is operated without gasoline passing thru it the pump can overheat causing damage to it.


The gas you got from your landlord was junk and likely old.

You may need more than a few gallons to dilute the poor fuel. Also you may have to try and run it an extended period. Basically the junk fuel is in your engine and needs to get through it.

Alternatively get it towed and fuel drained out.

What a disaster trying to save likely $1.50 in a fillup.

“Sometimes, the most expensive thing one can do is to be cheap.”

I’ll echo Rubinio’s comment that you may just have some air trapped inside your fuel line since you ran the car completely out of fuel.

I agree. A new fuel filter is in order.

Then stop being so cheap and fill the tank when it gets to 1/4, no matter what the price per gallon.

Trying to save pennies is costing you dollars. Not wise.