Fuel Tank Capacity · 21 March 2010

I know exactly how far my truck can go on one tank of gas – 330 miles. Well, it could probably go another 18 to 20 miles on flat ground, but I do not want to try my luck any more than I already have. Thankfully, I did not find out the total distance I could go on a tank of gas or the capacity of my tank through running out of gas. But it was close.

I had been meaning to get gasoline in my truck for several days. I try to get gas every two weeks regardless of what the gas gauge reads. That is because my gauge is broken. It does work a little bit, but only two real readings. So while it is not digital, it might be considered to be a binary gauge – it only reads two values, full and empty. When it is full, the gauge reads full for about 80 miles. Then it reads empty. It is interesting to see it go slowly down on a single trip to work. It is like driving a vehicle that has a fuel efficiency of about a gallon to the mile. I start out with a full tank and end up twenty minutes later with an empty one. At least according to the gauge.

I thought I had changed the sensor that goes to the gauge, but after thinking through the first few drafts of this piece, I must have just remembered all the times I changed the gauge on my old car. I changed the sensor on my old Supra at least three times. It only read full and empty too. I changed the sensor and it would work for a while. Then it would break again. I would change it and it would work for a while. Then it would break again. So finally, I just decided to trust the fairly constant gas mileage and fill up when I had gone about 250 miles. It worked out fine then and I never ran out of gas with that old Supra.

I do the same thing since my gas gauge does not work on my truck. I keep track of my miles, gallons, cost, and dates I fill up in a little ledger in my glove box. When I get to about 200 miles or two weeks, I fill up.

I had been meaning to follow my normal routine leading up to our midwinter weekend break a few weeks ago. I knew I was getting close to empty, but did not realize just how empty until I was on my way to an appointment. The funny thing was that I was planning on getting gas before I went, but found out that I had to drop off a presentation board at the school for Thing 3. My wife had driven him to school that day so that he would not need to take a large presentation board on the bus. I saw it sitting on the table ready to go so I called her to let her know that I would drop it off on my way to my appointment. I figured that I had enough gas to get to the school and my appointment. So off I went.

It is a good thing that I had to take the detour to the school. There are several hills on the route and only one on the end of my trip to work. If I had forgotten to get gas that day and waited until after work a couple days later, I would have had to hike to get fuel.

As it was, I was on my way to my son’s school when my truck lurched up the first hill. I knew I had experienced that kind of performance from my vehicles before, but could not place it. I thought at first that I was going to need to change my cap and rotor and made a mental note.

Then, after a short level section, I went up another slight incline. This time, the truck lurched more and I realized that while I might need a new cap and rotor, I was experiencing something more urgent. I was running out of fuel. I made it to the top of the hill and then decided that I was not going to make it to the gas station if I went to the school first. I might get to the school on fumes, but would probably not be able to get to the gas station. I turned and figured I would get a small amount of gas, go to the school, and still make it to my appointment on time.

I got to the nearest gas station and then decided that I needed to fill up instead of just get a couple dollar’s worth. I remember doing that in the past when I was close to running out of gas, but a couple dollar’s worth then bought a lot more gas than it does now. So I went to the station where I usually fill up. To the station that I had planned on filling up at on the way to my appointment before I had changed my plans. I got there with no problem and filled up. It took 17.1 gallons. I figure that I had about another 20 miles on flat road. If I had gone to work, the next day without filling up first, I really would have had to walk to get gas.

I went to my son’s school and got to my appointment on time. And I figure that I probably never did change my gasoline sensor on my truck. But I doubt that I will ever change it. After all, I remember my old Supra and how many times I changed the sensor on it. I figure that I can remember to fill up every couple weeks. Then again, maybe I might not be so lucky next time. Maybe next time, I really will figure out exactly how many miles I get on a tank of gas. I really ought to change the sensor. But knowing me, I will take my chances and not replace the sensor.

I just hope you do not see me walking on the side of the road after you passed my old truck.

© 2010 Michael T. Miyoshi

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