Why Is my Fuel Gauge Stuck on Empty

By Nidhi Nangia. Updated: January 16, 2017
Why Is my Fuel Gauge Stuck on Empty

Your fuel gauge plays an important role in indicating that your fuel tank is running out of fuel, and it needs a refill. When you go for a refill, you check your fuel gauge to see whether it is full or not, and how much it has filled. Sometimes, the fuel gauge gets stuck on empty, and you have no idea how much fuel you are left with. Such a situation can be a total loss in case you are on the countryside going for a long drive. Read this oneHOWTO article to know why is my fuel gauge stuck on empty.

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How a fuel gauge works

A fuel gauge is a component found in the fuel tank of almost every vehicle on the road. It is the component responsible to send signals that operates fuel level gauge of the instrument cluster. It is made up of a float, an arm and a resistor that is designed to change as per the position of the fuel float. The float keeps floating on the top surface of the fuel inside the fuel tank. As the fuel level drops, the float and the arm also shift their position and the resistor moves to control the gauge display inside the vehicle. When the fuel gauge is stuck on empty, you do not get an idea of how much fuel is there in the fuel tank, and you may run out of fuel anytime.

Reasons of a stuck fuel gauge

The most obvious symptom of a stuck fuel gauge is that the fuel indicator does not move, even if you fill several liters of fuel in the fuel tank. If the fuel indicator still does not move, it means that it has been stuck on empty.

Sometimes, the float may have broken down, or it might have separated from its arm, thus causing the fuel gauge to get stuck on empty and not function properly. A malfunctioning resistor may also cause the fuel gauge to read empty and not indicate the correct level of fuel.

How to fix a fuel gauge stuck on empty in different situations

  1. Turn the vehicle’s ignition on and off 3-4 times, and watch if the needle moves or not. If it is stuck on empty, you must be having a blown fuse which needs replacement. You will either find this fuse in your engine compartment or under the side dash of the driver’s seat. Refer to your owner’s manual to find the fuse and replace it.
  2. Check the grounding wire of the sending unit of the fuel tank. This wire is attacked to your car’s fuel tank. To check it, attach a negative jumper cable with your car’s frame, and a positive one to the grounding terminal of its sending unit. If the fuel gauge starts working now, then it is the grounding wire that needs a replacement.
  3. Disconnect the wire attached to your car’s fuel sending unit and check the fuel gauge. If it is still stuck on empty, then perhaps the fuel gauge is at fault and it needs to be replaced. But if the gauge starts working, then the faulty component is the sending unit and it needs to be replaced.
  4. Make sure that all the wires are securely connected with the back of your car’s fuel gauge. To check this, you will have to remove your dashboard and gain access to its instrument cluster. You can refer to your owner’s manual to do that in the correct way.
Why Is my Fuel Gauge Stuck on Empty - How to fix a fuel gauge stuck on empty in different situations

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