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Pack Your Engine With Crap By Running Out Of Gasoline?

I know that many (most) advise against running low or running out of gas because an in-the-tank pump can overheat and have a shortened lif as a result.

However, I just read yet another article that stated there are dangers in running out of gas, many of them having to do with traffic or loss of power steering and brakes, getting a citation, and those are legitimate concerns, but . . .

. . . it was pointed out that all the crap that has been accumulating in the tank gets pushed into the engine as the tank is running dry. People on this site have also warned about this.

I’ve taken the pump module out of my car (to replace a sender) and looked at the set-up involving the pick-up and it’s “sock” . Pumps must draw fuel from tank bottoms. They do this wether the tank is full, empty, or in between.

I’ll go along with the overheat, but I’ve never bought this “pump all the crap into the engine when low on fuel” theory.
What do you think ?


I agree, for the most part it’s a bogus issue.

yea…probably bogus…

But what one thing I don’t like with many of the new vehicles where there is no changeable filter…the only filter is basically just a screen attached to the pump. With the systems where you actually replaced a filter…the filter would get clogged and then you’d replace the filter…thus REMOVING the dirt from the fuel system. The new filter-less systems…the dirt will ALWAYS be in the fuel someplace (hopefully the gas tank). I suspect over time there’s going to some accumulation of dirt. Not sure that dirt will ever get by the pump and screen…but the dirt is still there.

I believe most modern cars have fuel filters, which should trap and contain any “crap” that might be sucked up by the pump.

And since gas pumps also have filters, where does all this “crap” supposedly come from?

I think the whole idea is “crap.” As you say, the fuel pump ALWAYS draws fuel from the bottom of the tank.

There’s a very simple way to avoid this problem altogether. Don’t run out of gas!

Count me as agreeing too. The in-tank filter filters out most of the crap, and the inline filter gets rid of the rest of it. That’s also why the old myth about not filling up when you see the gas truck at the station is wrong - Whatever minute amounts of sediment you might possibly get in the tank as a result will be stopped by the filter.

I agree. We just had an oil fill up, not because we were running dry but because my wife thought we should avoid getting the excesses sediment. After failing to convince her that the tanks are bottom feeders, I just said mum and let her order a fill up.
IMO, it’s the first person who fills a tank who will encounter a problem if there is one.
I think it’s because most people can only “see” sediment on ponds or lake that float and feel it drains to the bottom when used. Unless you have leaves or tree branches or other floating contaminants in your fuel tanks, letting it run low is not an issue.

"What do you think ?


The cleanest part of most cars is the inside of their fuel tanks…The proposition is bogus…The “Pump Cooling” thing is too…Most pumps are installed near the top of the tank, not the bottom… It’s the gasoline that is flowing through them that cools them, not being submerged in gasoline, which does not happen unless the tank is half full or more…

I would say the biggest thing to worry about with running that low on fuel as far as the pump is concerned is lack of lubrication. Without gas flowing, it’s just metal to metal and that will eventually wear the pump out.

Good Comments. Here’s The Link To The Article I Read If Anybody’s Interested.

This discussion reminds me of a short story by James Thurber. He was reminiscing about when his family got their first car. Cars were new then and every time they would go out for a drive, Thurber’s mom would tell his dad, "Now don’t go driving around with no gas in the car, you’ll burn the valves."
Anyway, I think the filter is going to do it’s job as well whether the tank is full or near empty.

“It’s bad for your engine and fuel pump. Over the years, your gas tank has accumulated a lot of crap at the bottom. When you run out of gas, you basically take all that crap and push it into your engine in an attempt to fire the pistons. It’s not good to let that sediment into the chamber and you may do your engine harm. It could also cause the fuel pump to overheat.”

Bunco…This is nonsense…

I let my tank run empty for years, never a problem.

I agree with the others here and question the article author’s credentials. I suspect his major was journalism. And since he references not one state or municipality where a fine is applicable, i wonder about that statement too.

But he does raise a good point about it being dangerous. Running out of gas in a bad spot can be deadly. Today’s highways are loaded with stretches between Jersey Barriers with no shoulders and located just around curves. Break down on one of those stretches at night and it’s almost cerain disaster.

I WAS letting my vehicle run empty…but for the past month or so I haven’t been…Because when I let it run to near empty…I CAN’T fill it up without re-swiping my credit card…It now costs me MORE then $75 to fill my tank.

Mike, You Might Need Mastercard Or Shop Around And Check Limits.

From a news article today that talked about the exact problem you’ve got,
“Visa and Discover confirmed their limits at $75, while MasterCard’s is $100.”

"Some gas station company brands are starting to increase limits to $100 at the pump for their franchisees when accepting consumer cards, Griffin said. "

At Speedway, which has 290 stations in Michigan, consumers who hit Visa’s $75 and MasterCard’s $100 pay-at-the-pump limits can initiate another transaction immediately, said Shane Pochard, a Speedway spokesman.

From The Detroit News:


On the bumpy roads I drive I doubt sediment accumulating at the bottom of the tank is physically possible.

“Mike, You Might Need Mastercard Or Shop Around And Check Limits.”

It’s for ALL credit cards…and so far the 3 gas stations near me have the same limits…$75.