When the fuel gauge lights up: How much longer can I drive?

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Every driver knows it: the oppressive feeling when the reserve fuel gauge lights up. But you shouldn’t panic. Chances are, even though the warning light is flashing, there is more fuel in the reserve tank than you think.

The fear of stopping on the highway is usually unfounded, as a study by the British comparison website Compare The Market has shown. It had looked at how far one can still drive with the contents of the reserve tank. Tested were 96 popular car models with gasoline engines.

Most drivers believe they can only drive about 40 kilometres when the warning light comes on. In practice, however, the range is twice that in most cases. Many modern cars are now equipped with an onboard computer that shows how far you can still drive when the vehicle has reached a low fuel level. However, it is often possible to go far beyond the indicated range.

On average, the warning light comes on when the fuel tank has reached about 10 percent of its maximum capacity. The car manual states exactly how many litres this is. However, nothing is guaranteed because fuel consumption is influenced by many other factors, such as traffic conditions, outside temperature, braking frequency, acceleration or the number of passengers, as well as the weight of luggage.

Here are the top performers in terms of range when the reserve fuel gauge lights up:

VW Passat won with a reserve range of at least 120.73 kilometres.
Volvo V40 landed in second place with 113.6 kilometres in the reserve tank.
Ford Mondeo followed in third place with 112.68 kilometres.
BMW 5 Series took fourth place with a range of 109.96 kilometres.
Toyota Prius also made it to the top 5 with 107.2 km.
These car models complete the top 10:
Mercedes E-Class (103 km)
Audi Q5 (102.7 km)
Range Rover Sport (102 km)
Mazda 6 (101.3 km) and
Audi A6 (99.8 km)
The BMW M3 sedan had the shortest range with the reserve tank among the nearly 100 car models put under the microscope—a whole 51.48 kilometres. You won’t get far with the Kia Picanto with the flashing warning light (51.72 kilometres). The same applies to the Fiat 500 (59.77 km) or the Ford Fiesta (66.09 km). Other popular models that have a small reserve tank include the Nissan Juke (65.7 km), the Citroën C1 (62.4 km), and the Mini Cooper (60.4 km).

Here’s an overview of how far you can get with other popular models:
Škoda Octavia (95.5 km)
Škoda Fabia (80 km)
Volkswagen Golf (91,65 km)
Volkswagen Polo (74,25 km)
Volkswagen Tiguan (90.46 km)
Renault Clio (83.55 km)
Dacia Duster (80 km)
Dacia Sandero (93.55 km)
Peugeot 208 (96.47 km)
Opel Astra (82.5 km)
Opel Corsa (69.18 km)
Hyundai i30 (84.67 km)
Suzuki Vitara (78.06 km)

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