Thursday, July 10, 2008

Running on empty

We have an old car. It a good runner, but it's old. There are some thing wrong with it. Chief amongst them, perhaps, is that the gas gauge doesn't work. We had a spell of humid weather and it sort of stuck in the half-tank position.

We discovered this when we were trying to make a ferry to Germany (and didn't have much time) and the gas light came on. It's fair to say that I'm a nervous traveler. I was freaking - I could just see us (me, my husband and VolBro) stuck on the side of the motorway somewhere in Norfolk as our ship sailed.

There are often many, many miles between motorway stops and rest stations in the UK.

The Vol-in-Law, optimist that he is, figured that we not only had enough gas to get to the next refueling point, but also enough to get us to the ferry port.

I did not agree.

Fortunately, we found a petrol station before the car went pfft, pftt, pluuutttt.

All throughout our road trip through Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway I topped up the car whenever I could. I knew it was a little more than necessary, but I didn't fancy coming to a dead stop on one of those high mountain roads with the mountains on the left and a plummet to the sea on the right. The Vol-in-Law kept insisting that the light came on when the fuel level reached a quarter of a tank. Meaning miles and miles and miles of driving ahead.

He told me that his father had told him this.

That's the same man who ran out of gas on the Forth Road Bridge. The same guy who has apparently a relatively long and sorry history of running out of gas.

You don't want to be stuck here.

So anyway, our argument has lasted many years now. With me immediately wanting to fill up after I see the gas light and him saying there's no need to worry, that we could run our errands, go to the park, have a little tootle round London and still have no worries about running out of gas.

So who knows who's right? (Me obviously, but let's stick with the question for a rhetorical point.)

Now perhaps there's a website that could help answer that question. Tank on Empty. The idea is that you self-report how long it took you to completely run out of gas after the warning light came on. Problem is, many of the self reporters are liars, with a disturbing number of 99 miles votes for a disturbing (statistically disturbing) number of cars.

Here's a hint. When you see the light - just fill up the tank.

(Hat Tip Sharon Cobb)

Photo credit: Forth Bridge from Patrick Down shown here under a Creative Commons license.

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