Tank on EmptyTank on Empty

Coasting To The Pump

July 26, 2022 about Chevrolet Chevy Van

Me and my wife rented an old Coachmen RV through a referral service. This was our first time out in an RV but I was up to the challenge. I asked the owner about the fuel capacity and he said he thought it was 50 gal. On the first leg of the trip we nursed the thing up the grade into Las Vegas, having to cycle the AC on and off to keep some semblance of cold air coming through the vents in 119 degree heat. I stretched the mileage a bit thinking the low fuel light should come on at some point, but it never did. Hmm... I wonder if it works? Oddly, we only used about 30 gallons, despite the fuel gauge reading empty. After that I decided to refuel when the gas gauge read 3/4 from then on, just to play it safe. Well, I decided to stretch it again when we came to Avon, CO, thinking I could make it through the Eisenhower Tunnel and get cheaper gas on the other side. About halfway up the grade, though, I thought I could actually see the needle moving as it went past the dreaded E, and with no gas station in sight I pulled off at the next overpass. We checked the Google, and found out the nearest gas was 20 miles behind us in Vail. So we turned around and headed back down the hill, where I promptly put it in neutral and coasted almost all the way back (I know - that's illegal, but desperate times... We hadn't figured out how to use the ancient GPS in the RV, so we were navigating with my wife's phone. Well, the area around Vail has roundabouts, and phones tend to route you through all the shopping areas... By the time we reached the exit, the fuel gauge was way past the empty mark in some kind of no-man's land. When I came to a stop at the roundabout, the engine died. I'm thinking - that's just the fuel sloshing so I still have some left - so I cranked it and it fired right up - until the next roundabout. This time it died again, and as you may know navigation apps don't handle roundabouts all that well, I missed my turn, and was pointed back onto the freeway. Thinking quickly, I realized I could swing it over through the cutoff for the opposite direction and get back on the frontage road where we were supposed to go - wife bellowing about driving the wrong way... Next roundabout - dies again, then this time we ended up in the complete wrong direction, so I park the RV and and we look at the map. Yep, it's behind us. Now I'm getting worried thinking eventually it wont start again. We get headed back toward the gas station and this time it quit while we were rolling. Now I know the tank is dry and so I quickly put it in neutral and keep rolling. Sure enough, I tried cranking it again, and it didn't fire. It was just a bit of a downhill grade, and we searched for the gas station, which eventually appeared behind some trees. Fighting the whole time to steer this 10-ton RV with no power steering (yeah the PS goes away when the engine quits), I pull into the station, where it literally stops by itself (I never touched the brakes) with the gas cap right next to the pump. That's when we found out the actual fuel capacity - exactly 32 gallons - and no, the low fuel light never came on. Note to self...

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