December 27, 2021

Why You Shouldn’t Let a Diesel Vehicle Run Out of Fuel

Close up of gas meter

When you’re having a productive day, seeing a “low fuel” light on your vehicle can be a real momentum killer. So instead of immediately refilling your tank, you might press your luck and continue working. 

But what if your luck — and fuel tank — runs dry? 

Of course, your machine will shut down because it needs fuel in order to operate. But what happens after that is anyone’s guess.

Sometimes, it’s as simple as adding more fuel to your tank and restarting the engine. If you have extra diesel nearby, the whole ordeal could only take a few minutes. But if you aren’t so fortunate, the fallout from an empty fuel tank can be much more complicated, time consuming and costly. 

What Happens When You Run Out of Diesel Fuel?

Fuel Distributor Graphic

When you run low on diesel, your fuel pump might send air through your fuel system instead of gas. If that happens, your vehicle will shut down and not restart until the air is removed. This is called “bleeding” the fuel system, and depending on your machine, it can take several hours to complete. Some machines have self bleeding systems, but most require a service call.  Check out our YouTube video on why you shouldn't let a diesel vehicle run out of fuel.

Running low on diesel can also damage your fuel system. That’s because the poorest-quality fuel settles at the bottom of the tank, and it’s often full of sediment. When this sediment is sent through the fuel system, it can clog or break your fuel pump, filter, rail and injectors — and you might need to replace one or all of these parts. In this situation, you could face weeks of downtime and thousands of dollars in repair costs, depending on parts availability and the severity of your maintenance issues.

Fuel Filters and Fuel Pumps
Browse fuel filters and fuel pumps on EquipmentShare's Shop

Stop Running On Empty 

Given the potential maintenance issues, it simply isn’t worth playing chicken with your “low fuel” light. But according to our data, this happens more often than you’d expect. Up to 15% of the assets connected to T3, the operating system for construction, can run out of fuel every day. 

Up to 15% of diesel machines run out of fuel every day

All told, an empty fuel tank is one of the most preventable maintenance issues you could have. Instead of pressing your luck, take a moment to add some fuel to the tank. And as an added layer of defense, use T3’s real-time maintenance alerts to learn exactly when any machine in your fleet is running low on fuel. 

Learn more about EquipmentShare's T3 operating system.

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