What to Do When You Run Out of Gas in the Middle of Nowhere

What to Do When You Run Out of Gas in the Middle of Nowhere

Thinking about a cross-country road trip? Knowing what to do when you run out of gas will prepare you for those long stretches of highway coasting 

Knowing what to do when you run out of gas, especially in the middle of nowhere, can help provide security in tough situations. Having a small canister of gasoline stored in the trunk will keep things moving, but many don’t feel it’s necessary (or safe) to take the extra precaution. Luckily, there are other resources your disposal, if you plan accordingly.

We’ve put together a guide for knowing what to do when you run out of gas and how to prepare for future mishaps. If you’re getting ready for a between-semester or summer-long road trip, keep these tips in mind!

Dealing with an empty tank in the middle of nowhere

Step 1: Get to safety

The first thing to do if your tank is on empty is to ensure your safety. If your engine starts to sputter, play it safe and pull over to the shoulder of the road. Flip on your hazard lights and double check for cars before you exit the vehicle. If you have any reflector lights, place them ten to fifteen feet behind the vehicle, facing traffic. Open the hood of your car to signal to other drivers that you’re having problems.

Step 2: Determine your whereabouts

If you have a smartphone with a signal, use the GPS tracking system to find your location and the nearest gas station. Determine how far the next exit is, just in case you have to walk. If your phone is dead or low on battery (more on this below), here are a few additional ways to figure out your whereabouts:

  • Nearby highway markers 
  • A handy road map 
  • Nearby or last passed exit signs 
  • Billboards, businesses, and geographic markers like lakes, rivers, etc. 

Step 3: Call for backup

Make sure to switch off any applications or connections that could be draining your phone battery. Switch to “battery-saving mode” or do so manually. You’ll probably need to make a few phone calls (if you have a signal), so keep that battery as full as possible.

There are a few resources you can use depending your location; however, you’ll want to consider who knows what to do when you run out gas and who can best help you in the current situation. Here are a few choices when deciding what to do when you run out of gas:

  • Pekin Insurance’s Roadside Rescue
  • AAA roadside assistance or a similar service company
  • 411 to find the nearest tow truck service 
  • Nearby family or friends 
  • 911 (you can always make an emergency call, regardless of signal strength) 

Step 4: These boots were made for walking

If you’re unable to get in touch with a friend or roadside assistance, it’s time to hit the dusty trail. Walking on the road can be dangerous, especially at night, so be sure to wear reflective accessories or clothing. You can buy reflectors and leave them in your car for a situation like this. Also, give yourself plenty of space, walk as close to the shoulder as possible, and, if you can, walk toward traffic. You can’t see what’s behind you!

Remember to lock your car and to leave a note for any highway officials or pedestrians.

Step 5: Use extra caution when approached by good Samaritans

There may be a few people who will stop to lend a helping hand. If anyone offers you a ride to the nearest gas station, it’s best to decline and ask for help in other ways. Here’s how a good Samaritan can help you:

  • Cell phone 
  • Lending gas (hose and container will be necessary) 
  • Make the trip back and forth to a gas station without you 
  • Provide better details on location 

Preparing for what to do when you run out of gas

Now that we’ve presented a basic guide to dealing with unexpectedly running out of gasoline, let’s focus on how to prepare for the future. Here’s a list of materials you can have in your car to ensure your safety and to help make an empty tank less of an issue:

  • Flashlight (for walking on the road)
  • Reflective clothing 
  • Local or regional road map 
  • Battery-powered phone charger 
  • A sealed container of extra gas if you’re comfortable carrying it with you
  • A container of Magic Tank to help you get where you’re going 

Also, Pekin Insurance Roadside Rescue never sleeps! Simply call the number on the sticker we’ll provide, and we will assist you at any hour of any day.

Take steps to keep from running out of gas

Overall, it’s best to keep a watchful eye on your fuel tank while travelling. If you’re driving long distances, map out all the gas stations along the way and try not to let the fuel gauge dip below a quarter of the tank. Knowing what to do when you run out of gas is important, but an ounce of preparation and planning can keep everything moving smoothly so you won’t have to put that knowledge to use!

If you’re planning a road trip, have you considered updating your insurance policy to cover any accidents along the way? Available to everyone who has a personal auto policy with us, Roadside Rescue saves the day with 24/7 roadside assistance—in all 50 states—at no extra cost to you if you have Comprehensive Coverage!

If you’ve ever run out of gas and have a few helpful tips, share your story in the comments!


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