Safety Center

What To Do When You Run Out of Gas

The number of vehicles running out of gas on the road often correlates to the rising cost of gasoline. Here are steps to take if you ever find yourself in that situation.

Running on empty

  • Turn on your vehicle's hazard lights as soon as it runs out of gas

  • Don't attempt to coast to the nearest gas station; you could damage your engine

  • If possible, move to a safe area, such as a parking lot

  • If that's not possible, pull over to the right side of the road as far as possible

  • Be aware that steering and braking are more difficult when you're out of gas

  • Once your vehicle has stopped, please put it in park and apply the parking brake

Call for help

  • Use your cell phone GPS to determine your location and the nearest gas station

  • Call roadside assistance, which can bring several gallons of gas to you, or a friend who can drive you to a gas station

  • If that's unsuccessful, call a ride-sharing service to take you to the nearest gas station

  • If you can't get a cell phone signal, you should be able to call 9-1-1 for assistance

  • If you are in a remote area, stay in your car with the doors locked until help arrives

  • If you don't have a cell phone and need to walk for help, exit through the passenger side

  • Leave a note on your dash with your name, the date and time, and your direction on foot

  • Major highways often have emergency call boxes and/or safety service patrols that assist stranded motorists

Remember, planning for such a situation can help you avoid getting into one. Try to remember not to let your gas tank fall below 1/4 full. Also, always have a car phone charger on hand when driving.

Get gas in your tank

  • Check your owner's manual to determine the minimum amount of fuel needed to protect your vehicle's engine, fuel pump, and catalytic converter

  • Ideally, have your car on a level surface before slowly pouring gas into the tank

  • Once you've emptied the gas canister, please place it in the trunk and get back into the car

Start the car

  • Push down on the gas pedal several times before starting the car

  • Turn the key or push the starter button

  • The engine may not turn over the first time. Wait several minutes and repeat the process again

  • After several tries, there should be enough gas in the fuel system for the engine to start

The car still won't start

If your vehicle's engine doesn't turn over after taking those steps, arrange a towing service to pick up your car.

NJM Insurance Group’s Commitment to Safety

NJM’s enduring commitment to safety can be traced back to our earliest days — with a focus that has expanded from improving conditions in manufacturing facilities to helping keep customers safe on the roads and at home. NJM is a leader in personal and commercial auto, homeowners, and workers’ compensation insurance.


  1. Jack R. Nerad, “What Happens When Your Car Runs Out of Gas?,”, (June 18, 2020).

  2. Sharon Feldman, “What To Do if Your Car Runs Out of Gas,”, (April 21, 2022).

Our Safety Center pages are filled with tips related to the safety and maintenance of your home and autos. The information contained in these articles should not be construed as professional advice, and is not intended to replace official sources. Other resources linked from these pages are maintained by independent providers; therefore, NJM cannot guarantee their accuracy.