- Fuel gauges tell you, the driver, if and when to gas up. It usually answers the question of, “when do I plan to refuel?” with an indirect answer of “plan to refuel when your fuel gauge reads __________.”
- The fuel gauge usually has three main parts; the sensor or the sensing unit, the potentiometer, and the indicator. These three work together in order to inform you at what level your gasoline is.
- If you’re constantly asking the question of, “why does my fuel gauge stay on full,” or vice versa, it may be due to the fact that your fuel gauge is faulty and needs replacement.
- It’s relatively safe to drive with a faulty fuel gauge, however, regret will follow when you find yourself pushing your car along the highway or having it towed to the nearest gasoline station. It offers a form of convenience and a sense of relief from these types of incidents and makes them preventable.
- Find the perfect fit for your car when you go to CarParts.com and input its year, model, and make on the search filters provided. The wrong part might not fit or function correctly.
Fuel gauges are used to determine how much gasoline or diesel you may have inside your gas tank at any moment. It was invented alongside the discovery of the use of gasoline to power heavy machinery. While speedometers were the first vehicular instruments to be invented and incorporated into the vehicle, yardsticks, marked with indicators depending on the car’s fuel tank capacity, were used as fuel gauges.
The first electrical fuel gauges came out in the year 1925. Until now, this is what is utilized in most vehicles. It has three main components, a potentiometer (a tool that releases resistance bands), an indicator, and a sensor or a sending unit. These three combined help you determine how much gasoline your car still has.
How does a fuel gauge work?
As you pour gasoline into your gas tank, the fuel gauge’s indicator located on your dashboard slowly rises. It’s a simple transaction, but it’s not transparently clear how this happens. If you’ve ever wondered about the process that happened, and which parts were utilized to achieve such effect, this is what you should read.
First, a sensor, or the sending unit, attached to an arm, floats on top of the gasoline.
As you start your ignition, a small electrical current is released onto the gasoline through the sensor.
The potentiometer then, while connected to the arm, measures this electrical current and raises its resistance to it.
The indicator relays this information regarding how much resistance is released by the potentiometer through its rising and falling as displayed on the dashboard.
This complicated process ensures that you have an accurate measurement of your gasoline levels, allowing you to map out your travels even before they happen.
Symptoms of a bad fuel gauge
Spotting a faulty fuel gauge is relatively easy. When you notice that your fuel gauge isn’t rising as you gas up, this may be a problem with your sensors. However, this isn’t always the case. Some events may cause your fuel gauge to act up or spasm, meaning it would be one-quarter full on your way to the office and three-quarters full on your way back home, or sometimes your fuel gauge will read empty even when your tank is full.
When this happens, the least likely event that would have happened is that some random person was able to open your fuel tank and pour some gas into your vehicle without taking anything in return. Address these random events right away, and you might be able to prevent either wasted sweat and hope.
Sometimes, the problem that will present itself is that you feel yourself needing to gas up more often. But then when you do, you spend less on a full tank of gas. Problems like these that don’t seem like problems right away might be taken for granted. However if they happen often enough, there must be something wrong with your gauges.
Is it safe to drive with a faulty fuel gauge?
While nothing adverse will happen to the efficiency of your car, driving without the information of how much gasoline you still have left leaves you speculating how far you will be able to travel before having to gas up. This usually prompts the questions, “why does my fuel gauge stay on full,” or, “why does my fuel gauge stay empty?” The realization regarding the importance of the fuel gauge will only be substantial enough when there’s a need for you to step out of your vehicle and push it or have it towed to the nearest gas station.
Another problem that may arise would be your detection of other problems with the components of your car that manage fuel efficiency. If you fail to monitor your fuel consumption and end up spending more than you normally should without finding out in due time that you may have to replace your oxygen sensor or some other part, then that would result in unnecessary spending.
To ensure that your vehicle runs efficiently and without hitch, and for you to be able to realize when you would need to gas up, keep your fuel gauge up and running and address the problems it may have as soon as you diagnose it.
Finding the right fit
In the olden days, the yardsticks that were used were highly specific to the vehicle, its model, the year it was released, and its brand or the automaker that built it. To this day, that information is still relevant. Fuel gauges are highly dependent upon your car’s model year and make, because the sizes of the fuel tanks of these vehicles differ from each other, either in size or in shape. To ensure that the replacement fuel gauge you purchase will work accurately for your car, input your car’s information on the search filters provided in CarParts.com and allow the site to narrow down your search for you.
Replacing Your Car's Fuel Gauge
Your fuel gauge says you still have enough gas in the tank, so you continue towards the freeway confident that you're going to reach the end. But in the middle of your ride, your car suddenly went spit and sputter. You find out that you're actually running out of gas! Now, that is a definite sign that your fuel gauge is no longer reliable. It needs to be replaced or else you might get stuck again on the freeway. Here are simple steps on how to change your fuel gauge.
Difficulty level: Easy
Tools that you'll need:
- Flat-head screwdriver
- Phillips-head screwdriver (if the fuel gauge is held by screws)
Step 1: Open your car's hood, and locate the rear of the fuel gauge.
Step 2: Disconnect the wires running from the fuel tank and battery to the back of the dashboard.
Step 3: Remove the panel covering the gauges in your dash.
Step 4: Pry the fuel gauge out with the flat-head screwdriver until the gauge is taken out from the dash. For gauges fastened by screws, use the Phillips-head screwdriver.
Step 5: Install the new fuel gauge into the compartment. Just push it in or lock it with screws.
Step 6: Put the panel back into its place, and plug back the wires you've disconnected earlier.
Remember not to pry your fuel gauge out too hard. You don't want to damage your dash or the other gauges in it. And of course, you don't want to injure yourself. Just exert the right amount of strength and be careful in pulling out the fuel gauge.