I Ran Out of Gas and Have No Money: What Should I Do?

We were all told to keep our cars filled up when we first started driving. However, sometimes we make mistakes and get distracted, like forgetting to check the tank to see whether or not we have enough gas. So what should you do if you ran out of gas and didn’t have any money?

You could call a friend or family member to come and help you if you ran out of gas and had no money. Other solutions you may want to consider:

  • Call a rideshare company.
  • Use a fuel delivery service.
  • Ask for help.
  • Call a Freeway Service Patrol.

If you’ve run out of gas, these recommendations could be the difference between arriving a bit late or canceling your plans. For safety reasons, you want to make sure you don’t get stranded by the roadside, either, especially at night. Keep reading as I discuss further what you can do if you have no gas or money on the road.

Car running out of gas.

What Should I Do if I Ran Out of Gas and Had No Money?

Suppose your car ran out of gas and you forgot to take enough cash with you. Even worse, you forgot your wallet at home. So what should you do in a situation like this?

You could use your mobile phone to contact your friends or family members if you ran out of gas and had no money on the road. As long as you have your phone with you, you can always call a rideshare company to pick you up if no one is available to help you.

The following discusses several ways to help you in such a situation.

Contact a Friend or Family Member

Calling a friend or family member is easy if you’re close to them. However, if you’re traveling, this might not be an option. Still, this is an option worth considering.

Suppose your family member or friend refuses your offer to pay them back. Then respect their choice. You can thank them with a small token of appreciation, like a candy bar.

Call a Rideshare Company

Calling a rideshare company is a good option if you already have an account. This method is excellent if your car runs out of gas close to your home, and it’s not the middle of the night.

Keep in mind that you might need to wait a while, depending on the time and location. The ride can get expensive.

And if you haven’t set up an account yet, make sure you do so. You can make an account while waiting in your car as long as you have access to the internet.

Use a Fuel Delivery Service

Companies like Uber and Lyft have expanded their delivery services, such as UberEats (for restaurant delivery). And with services like Instacart, you can get almost anything delivered. Unfortunately, these companies won’t deliver gas.

That doesn’t mean you can’t get fuel delivered. 

Several companies have gotten into the fuel delivery business. Motorist clubs like AAA deliver fuel, but you must have a membership first (note to self: subscribe when you get home). But most fuel delivery companies charge per delivery.

One such service is Honk. Download their app, give them a debit or credit card number, and you’re set. Use the app to order help and wait for an approved professional to arrive. Most deliveries should take 15 to 30 minutes.

Mach 1 also works on the same model — download the app, ask for service, and wait for someone to bring you gas. As with Honk, you’ll need to provide a debit or credit card number to use the service.

Ask for Help From Other People

You’re going to ask for help if you run out of gas, have no money, and don’t have your wallet.  Unless you’ve memorized your debit or credit card number, you won’t be able to create a rideshare or fuel service delivery service.

Asking for help isn’t rude if done correctly. You don’t want to seem demanding. Tell yourself that you aren’t begging for money but asking for a favor. You hope the person will help you, but it’s okay if they refuse to do you a favor.

Follow these steps when asking for gas money from a stranger:

  1. Approach them slowly.
  2. Explain your circumstances.
  3. Ask for the least amount you’ll need.
  4. Offer to repay them in some way.

Here are some additional tips:

  • Don’t lie. When asking for money, honesty is the best policy. It’s easier to come across as polite when you’re telling the truth. Remember that if they can, people will always be more willing to lend a helping hand if they believe you’re sincere.
  • Stay calm. Some people will refuse to help out give you gas money. Respond politely. Being polite doesn’t mean getting your way; it means acting in a civilized manner. If someone refuses to give you gas money, thank them anyway.
  • Be respectful. You don’t know anything about that person: you don’t know if he’s in a positive mood, if he’s broke, or if he’s struggling with a crisis. As a result, be twice as cautious.

Don’t Look Like a Scammer

Most of us have been approached by someone asking for money. Usually, they have a story about needing to buy food or get a ride, or something similar. Yet when we offer to buy them food, they refuse the offer.

To avoid being seen as a scammer, don’t ask for money if you managed to get your car to the station. Instead, offer to let them put gas into your car, swipe the card at a pump, or give the clerk inside the money.

And if they don’t claim to have money, don’t ask them to get some out of the store’s ATM. That’ll seem like a complete scammer move.

Call a Freeway Service Patrol

A freeway service patrol is a form of roadside assistance sponsored by state or local governments. Most of them will give you a gallon of gas free of charge.

These programs are designed to decrease traffic congestion using roving tow and service trucks. The goal of the programs is to tow vehicles off the road so that traffic can resume. They carry gasoline for stranded motorists so they can get to their destination.

Over 40 states have some form of these patrols. Unfortunately, they might not be able to help if you:

  • Are in a less populated area
  • Ran out of gas on a back road or side street
  • Are stranded at night or on the weekend

Often, people are not aware of these patrols. Contacting them is a challenge since the best way to find out the numbers is by googling the patrol’s name. Instead, google your state’s Highway Patrol or Department of Transportation to find the number to call.

Don’t Just Drive Away After You Put Gas in the Car

Once you’ve got some gas into your vehicle, don’t just drive off. First, you should prime your pump to get rid of air and add a little gas to the injector.

To prime the gas pump, turn the key to the on position and then off several times without starting the engine. Doing this gives the fuel pump enough electricity to pump out air that entered the fuel lines when you ran out of gas.

This should go without saying, but don’t rush into traffic and speed down the highway. Not only might you get ticketed for speeding but driving fast will burn gas quickly. If you only put a couple of dollars of gas into your tank, you don’t want to run out again, do you?

How to Conserve Your Gas for the Drive Home

Suppose you were able to get enough money for a gallon of gas. Here are a few tips to help you conserve gas so that you don’t run out of fuel a second time:

  • Turn off the a/c or heater. Doing this can cut fuel usage up to 25%. This may sound unpleasant in hot or cold weather, but if you run out of gas, you’ll suffer through the same conditions for a longer time. High-powered accessories, like stereos and other electrical devices, also use up some fuel. It’s not a lot, but if you’re running on fumes, doing so might keep you from having to push your car the last 100 yards (91.44 m).
  • Roll up your windows to minimize wind resistance. Yes, switching off the air conditioner (or heater) and rolling the windows up will make your car’s interior even more uncomfortable.
  • Slow down. Fuel efficiency on cars maxes out at 35 to 45 mph, so if you’re worried you’ll make it home on a couple of dollars, slow down. Of course, if you’re on a fast-moving interstate highway, you need to follow minimum speed rules, but the idea is—don’t speed up to get to your next location.
  • Coast to a stop. If you’re trying to save fuel, avoid abrupt braking. When approaching a red light or stop sign, ease off the gas carefully and coast to a stop. Also, accelerate smoothly because fast starts use more fuel than a smooth start.
  • Don’t shift into neutral while coasting. This used to save a little fuel, but the fuel injectors turn off automatically to save gas when a car coasts. When you shift to neutral, you don’t save fuel.

If you don’t know the area, use a website like GasBuddy to find nearby gas stations. Don’t waste fuel.

See also: How Far Can You Go on 0 Miles to Empty?

What Happens to a Car When It Runs Out of Gas?

A car will keep moving even when it runs out of gas. It may also stop moving. You’ll notice these scenarios because they may indicate a problem with your car’s fuel pump or fuel injectors.

You Could Have Damaged the Fuel Pump

When you press on the pedal, the fuel pump in the fuel tank pumps gas to the engine, which causes your car to move. Because your fuel pump depends on the gas to keep it cool and lubricated, the pump might become stressed and sometimes even overheated when your car runs out of gas.

You Might Have Caused the Fuel Injectors To Clog

Sediment can form at the bottom of a car’s gas tank due to airborne debris and impurities in the gas. Your fuel filter stops the nasty stuff so that it doesn’t enter the engine.

But when your gasoline level falls too low, those pollutants might bypass the filter and enter your fuel lines. And since the fuel injectors have tiny nozzles, dirt and crud can clog them up.

If your car ran out of gas and won’t start, it could be due to either a damaged fuel pump or a clogged fuel injector. Sometimes, we don’t realize they were on their last legs until we run out of gas.

Should your car start but drive sluggishly, you should get a fuel system inspection and do a cleaning soon. If you continue to drive with fuel injectors, they might need to be replaced. Compared to cleaning, replacing the injectors will take a bigger bite out of your wallet.

Bottom Line

If you run out of gas and don’t have any money, you have several options. Make a phone call to a friend or family member, contact a ride-sharing service, make use of a fuel delivery service, or ask for help.




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