What To Do If You Think Your Gas Gauge Isn't Working

Out of gas

Image Credit: StauffersTowing

A broken gas gauge on a car can be pretty frustrating. If you have no idea how much gas is still in your car, it's hard to tell when your car is running on empty. A broken or inaccurate gas gauge increases the likelihood of your car running out of gas and leaving you stranded on the side of a road.

Luckily, there's a way to tell how much gas is in your car if your gas gauge isn't working.

Keep Track Of Your Miles

Track mileage

You should have an idea of how many miles per gallon your vehicle gets. You should also know how many gallons your vehicle's fuel tank holds. If you're not sure, check your owner's manual. If you know these two values, you'll be able to calculate how much range your car has.

So the first thing to do is to fill your car up with gas. Next, reset the trip mileage to 0. Keep track of your mileage and fill up the tank once your mileage hits about 75% of the total range.

This method isn't foolproof, though. You'd probably end up running out of fuel sooner or later. So the best way to go about this issue is to find the root cause and then fix it.

The Most Common Causes Of A Broken Gas Gauge

Broken fuel gauge

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When a driver notices that their gas gauge isn't working right, their first assumption may be that the instrument cluster is broken. If you're in this situation, don't be so quick to have your instrument cluster repaired or replaced. It's possible that your instrument cluster is fine, but there's a malfunctioning part in your vehicle's fuel system.

Here are some of the most common causes of a broken gas gauge:

1. A Faulty Fuel Tank Sending Unit

A broken fuel sender unit is one of the most common causes of an inaccurate gas gauge. The sender has a float that floats on top of the fuel in the tank. Its job is to send data to your car's instrument cluster. Such data includes how much fuel you have left in your tank. If this piece is damaged or defective, then you'll end up with an inaccurate reading.

2. Circuit Issues

Sometimes a gas gauge malfunctions because it's not getting any voltage from the sending unit. This is often caused by a faulty ground wire or gas gauge circuit.

A gas gauge circuit connects all the following parts:

  • Sending unit
  • Gas gauge
  • Ground wire
  • Car battery

If the gas gauge circuit fails, there will be little to no communication between these parts.

It's possible that the circuit inside the gas gauge has failed. If this is the case, then your gas gauge will either be stuck at empty or full. Or it may operate within one half of the gauge (from empty to half-empty or full to half-full). You can find out if that's the case by sending us your instrument cluster. Our technicians will inspect it to see if gas gauge circuit failure is the culprit.

3. Instrument Cluster Failure

This is the least common cause of gas gauge failure. Yet, it still happens. It's possible for one gauge to go bad. In that case, you would need to replace the entire instrument cluster. We have replacement instrument clusters (in addition to instrument cluster repair services).