AAA says empty gas tank could cost you more than filling up

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CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — More drivers are running out of gas on the road as they try to avoid paying higher fuel prices.

AAA reports that Virginia’s average gas price, for example, was $4.86 per gallon Tuesday. On Jan. 1, it was $3.15. The national average price Tuesday was $5.01, compared to $3.28 at the start of January.

The agency said drivers that put $10 of gas in their tanks six months ago would have gotten over three gallons at the pump. That same $10 today would get them just over two gallons in their tank.

Doglas Leocadio, who filled up at a Chesterfield County, Virginia, gas station Monday afternoon only spent a few dollars at the pump.   

“I just put a little bit here because my gas was really low and my car was, like, gasping,” he said. “I was trying to go to other gas stations that have a better deal.”

AAA said when drivers put off filling up their tank, it runs the risk of costing them more down the road. From April through June 7 of this year, 1,168 Virginia drivers ran out of gas and requested fuel deliveries.

That number is slightly up from last year when AAA ran 1,166 fuel delivery calls for members — and it’s 10% higher than the number of calls it received in 2019 during the same period.

Man filling up at Exxon in Chesterfield (8News)

Geico said Monday that the company receives at least five out-of-gas calls per day across the United States since prices have been going up.

Some of their customers may not know that certain policyholders are able to get up to $5 worth of fuel or a tow to the nearest gas station.

Geico added that it has an average response time of one hour, and if a driver is stranded in an unsafe place, the company encourages them to call law enforcement for assistance.

Morgan Dean, AAA Mid-Atlantic Manager of Public and Government Affairs, added that running out of gas is not only inconvenient but could be dangerous, “especially if the car runs out of gas in the middle of a busy highway.”

He said it could also be costly: “Running out of gas can also do damage to the vehicle’s fuel system that could cost hundreds of dollars to repair.”

To avoid running out of gas, AAA said drivers should fill up the tank when the fuel gauge hits a quarter of a tank.

Leocadio said he’s finding other ways to save on his gas. “I’m trying to not carry a lot of weight on my van. I’m trying to drive as less as possible,” he said.

He added the gas prices don’t look like they’ll go down anytime soon.

“Expecting the price to go down? I think it’s a utopia,” he said.

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