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RedDeerGuy1's avatar

When stranded in a car on the highway, in the winter, can you run out of gas idling?

Asked by RedDeerGuy1 (24350points) December 27th, 2021

Either in a line up or if you can’t progress forward very fast? Is it best to turn your car off or keep it on for heat?

Share your experiences:

Also are electric cars exempt from this frustration?

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23 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Yes you can, sorry to say.

Rule is don’t go anywhere in the winter with less than a half a tank of gas.

Have blankets and snacks, maybe a couple bottles of water too!

KNOWITALL's avatar

Yes. Sliding off in snow or ice you definately want heat. Our rule is first sign of freezing temps you fill up and stay filled up. Blanket, good walking boots, flashlight, snacks-basically a bug out bag in the trunk for emergencies.
That doesn’t even count good tires, oil, antifreeze and good wipers, winter windshield wiper fluid, etc…

Patty_Melt's avatar

Fully charged phone, hopefully with a charger that works from the car’s lighter.

kritiper's avatar

Best to just run the car long enough from time to time to keep the car warm and to not run out of gas.
Electric cars are not immune from the problem. It takes a lot of electricity to provide heat and a fan. So the same run for a while then turn it off action would apply.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Geez, check the exhaust pipe from time to time. Snow can get piled up around it. Also, condensation freezes when the engine is off. You want to make sure that isn’t building up to become a blockage.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Sure. it happened to my ex-wife and I had to rescue her. As long as the engine is on, you are consuming gas. If you are going slowly, you are getting lousy MPG.

And when it’s gone the engine will stop.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Mom says keep a metal coffee can with candles and matches in it in the trunk. Mini heater.

jca2's avatar

I have a gym bag in my trunk with everything necessary for staying over someplace unexpectedly, or staying in the car unexpectedly, plus some emergency stuff for the car. I have winter loungewear, summer loungewear, underwear, contact lens fluid and case, eyeglasses, tooth brush, tooth paste, all kinds of stuff. You never know if you’re going to be somewhere and it starts to snow and you get stuck overnight.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Damn! All I have is a spare tire in my trunk!

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Yes and in the winter you should always work off the top half of your tank.
have gloves,flash light, candles,a blanket, a small shovel always helps to.

JLoon's avatar


You can run out of fuel.

And if you’re stranded long enough you can even run out of condoms.

So it’s best to cycle on and off.

For the car I mean.

But if you’re all alone you don’t need to.

I mean for the condoms.

Maybe just move to Hawaii.

They’ve got lots of condoms there – But no snow.

At least that’s what I heard.

Or maybe I’m thinking of condos.

The guy I heard it from wanted to take me there, but he was kinda drunk.

Anyway I’ll let you know the next time I get stranded in Maui.

It could be soon.

Hope this helps.

JLeslie's avatar

Sure you can run out of fuel idling.

When I lived in cold places before there were car phones and cell phones I kept a small blanket in the car during winter sometimes, probably should always.

Almost everywhere I went back then someone was expecting me and knew where I was coming from, so they would realize I was missing after a while if I was stuck. Of course, that only helps if people can get through ice or snow to come help if I’m stranded.

As a woman I often had on skirts when I was working and not dressed very warm and hated driving with a bulky coat on. Being stranded would have been very bad news in freezing weather. I did usually wear a long coat and threw it in the backseat while I was driving so at least I could cover up with that if necessary. Just another case where women’s wardrobe can be detrimental.

If stranded I would alternate between running the car and heat and turning the car off for a while.

seawulf575's avatar

Of course you can run out of gas while idling. I still remember people having to wait in line for gasoline in the 1970’s and they would run out of gas while waiting their turn.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

I keep most of the tools I need to make minor repairs, spare fuses, blankets, first aid kit, compressor, flashlight, water, protein bars and a few other items in our “trip car” year round. You will run out of gas idling so you need to be prepared if you have to “camp” for a while.

Forever_Free's avatar

This question here has been tracked as the source of creating a shortage of condoms.

filmfann's avatar

The pandemic created many shortages. I am unfamiliar with a condom shortage.

JLoon's avatar

@filmfann – Okay fine.

Guys always have some excuse…

Nomore_lockout's avatar

You can, and I won’t. I don’t move out of my driveway in wintry conditions, even if it is only predicted. Fortunately, that is rarely a problem where I live, it’s sunny and in the low 80s right now. Small chance over the weekend, then another warmup trend. If it looks bad, I won’t be going to work. We got hit bad last winter, we just hunkered down at home near the fireplace. Made it thru ok. And that was just a fluke. First really bad winter I have seen since in CenTex ‘72. No kidding.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

I take it you live in Texas @Nomore_lockout ?
Then your smart, most people in your state don’t have a clue in how to drive in winter conditions,can you even get snow tires where you live??

Nomore_lockout's avatar

@SQUEEKY2 Now in a rare blue moon. Never lasts long. We did have a really hellish week last winter, the power grid went down, and we were in a deep freeze for a week. Luckily, we had stocked up on firewood, and we have a fireplace in our den, so we just kept piling on wood, and put blankets up between the den and living room. Stayed fairly toasty. A lot of folks who had only central heat, had a real hard time. But as I said, that was only a fluke. For the most part, really bad winter weather is rare, at least in my part of the state. Panhandle and North Texas are a different story. And yes, people don’t have sense enough to slow down because they aren’t used to that kind of weather. Billy Crash Craddock time, every time. Count me out. As far as snow tires, I never really checked. Rather doubt it, they are seldom ever necessary here.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Dutchess_III I can’t even imagine a white-out in Kansas. It’s so flat you could just walk forever with no landmarks! I’d definately have a bag ha!

Dutchess_III's avatar

Only Western Kansas is that flat actually.
But of course we can have white outs.

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