Is your tank running close to empty?

In a classic Seinfeld episode, Kramer test-drives a car and convinces the car salesman that they should find out how far the needle will go beyond the E (as in empty).

It really is a topical episode because there isn’t an easy way to tell how much petrol is left in your vehicle’s tank. You can guess but if you really want to be sure you have to open the tank and check (if you can) or fill ‘er up.

Is it really that difficult to create a readout that’ll tell you exactly how much fuel is left in your tank? I see digital readouts in petrol stations, so the obvious question is, Why aren’t they in the vehicles we drive? I’ve seen some trip odometers which are digital, so it can be done. Even an analog readout would work better than the best-guess approach that we have to use now.

How come we have advanced fuel-injection technology but no easy way to tell if we need to refill the ol’ tank? Knowing that your vehicle will get you home without needing a pit stop, especially at the end of a long day, would be such a relief.

Then again, you could use GPS to navigate to the nearest petrol station. Ah, technology.

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2 thoughts on “Is your tank running close to empty?

  1. (randomly stumbled on your blog browsing through wordpress)

    I always assumed it was because when your engine is running, it’s difficult to gauge exactly how much oil is actually left in your tank. I figured this was cause if the pan was tilted or the engine was warmer than usual, the gauge wouldn’t be exactly correct.. but I have seen BMWs that have digital readouts with approximately how many miles you have left before you start getting into that critical red-zone, need-to-fill-up-within-the-next-two-minutes phase.

    Either way, usually when the needle hits E, it means you have about 2 gallons left (this may or may not be in your user car manual). So you can gauge how far you can go depending on what your mileage is. I usually use my odometer to indicate when I need to fill up, not my gas needle.

  2. My point was that the method to figure out how much petrol is left in the tank is based on approximations or guesswork. Using the odometer is a good way except that you have to keep track of when you filled your tank last (and how much).

    If the BMWs have the technology, I guess that puts the technology in a “luxury” segment as in “nice to have but not necessary”. I think it’s a necessary “feature” to have in all vehicles.

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