Should You Keep Your Gas Tank Half Full in Winter?
Those who drive in extreme cold weather conditions, such as winters in the northern part of the US, have likely heard it said that you should never let your fuel tank run down near empty when it’s particularly cold out. Some say the tank should be at least half full, while others say 1/4 full. It just depends on the individual. But is this truly fact or is it a myth? Should you keep your gas tank half full in winter?
There is more than one reason why some drivers may recommend keeping your fuel tank well above the point of empty, but when it comes to winter driving, the main reason we hear is to prevent condensation build up in the fuel lines. Is there any truth to this?
Despite the fact many drivers seem to ignore this rule without consequence, there may be a reason to take some extra precautions with your fuel tank level in cold weather. One idea is that condensation can build up in the tank, causing the fuel lines to freeze when the temperature gets cold enough. This is something many report to be more of an issue from the past than the present day, but taking precautions won’t hurt.
Another problem, however, deals with keeping the fuel pump cool. When you run low on gas, it makes it possible for the fuel pump to start sucking in air. This can heat it up to the point where it could lead to expensive future repairs.
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That’s our brief explanation in a nutshell. So, do you really need to keep your gas tank full when it’s cold outside? Well, it really depends on who you ask, but we recommend doing so for more than the reasons mentioned above:
- Keeping your gas tank half full at all times during the winter will allow you to keep it running for warmth should you become stranded in a deserted area.
- Dirt trapped in the fuel tank can get into the fuel filter.
- Having plenty of fuel will assist you should you hit a traffic jam or highway traffic completely stops.
But our number one reason for keeping your tank above empty is because Mazda recommends it according to the owner’s manual. Mazda recommends keeping the tank at least 1/4 full, and should you keep your gas tank up to half full in winter instead, that may be even better.
So the real answer to the question is that it’s a smart idea to keep a more-than-adequate fuel level in all weather conditions, not just winter. But be sure to check your owner’s manual to see the recommendations for your specific model, because no matter what opinions you hear, the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations should be the bottom line.