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A Quick 101: Fuel Tank Capacity and Its Importance for your Car



Importance of Fuel Tank Size

Imagine this, you’re driving on the freeway without any care in the world when suddenly the fuel light turns on. There’s no gas station in sight and a feeling of terror begins to dawn on you. It has happened with most of us, not necessarily on the freeway. How can you know how many gallons of gas a car can hold? How long before it stops completely leaving you stranded? Can you calculate the average distance till the car stops abruptly? 

If you cannot calculate this distance, follow the simple tips and tricks mentioned throughout this post and the next time the gas light blinks. With a little help, you’ll know the amount of fuel remaining in the reserve gas tank before your car gives up. 

Confused how we’ll do that?  

It’s simple, knowing about your car’s fuel tank capacity and the reserve fuel tank gives you a clearer picture of how your car runs. In this post we’ll visit all your doubts and reveal how many gallons of gas does a car hold on average and the ideal amount of gas it must hold. 

This helps drivers in more than one way, here’s how:

  • Proper maintenance of their car. 
  • Avoid damaging the engine. 
  • Staying calm when the fuel light turns on. 

What is a Vehicle’s Fuel Tank Capacity? 

Fuel tanks are a part of the engine systems in automobiles that are filled with fuels such as oil. An average gas tank size carries up to 65 liters of fuel, but the number increases for larger vehicles like SUVs and trucks. To get detailed information on fuel tank sizes of different models of cars, click here.

What is a Reserve Fuel Tank?

Some vehicles come with an additional fuel tank called the reserve tank which contains around 15% of the primary gas tank capacity. It acts as a fuel reserve for the vehicle when it runs out of gas and needs additional fuel. Therefore, it is mostly seen in older vehicles or the ones designed for longer journeys to prevent drivers from running out of fuel.  

Following is a table of the most common average car gas tank size and capacity for different types of cars. 

Type of Vehicle  Standard Gas Tank Capacity 
Compact Cars Up to 17 gallons
Sedans 18.5 gallons
SUVs Varies vastly based on the size of the tank
Trucks Between 26-38 gallons 


Finding the Fuel Tank Capacity of a Car 

If you’re wondering how many gallons can a car hold? It varies based on multiple factors but mainly depends on the gas tank size. Some ways to find the fuel tank capacity of your car are given below.


  • Perform a Google search.


You can enter the following texts in the search field,

  •  Car Model (Enter your car model’s name here) car oil tank capacity
  • Car Model fuel tank size
  • Car Model car fuel tank size charts

The result page will feature results from top pages that provide reliable automobile information like


  • Check the Owner Service Book (OSB)


The OSB is a manual provided by manufacturers with every car. It contains all the details about your car including the car tank specifications.


  • Fill it Up


It may sound immature but if nothing works you can find gas tank capacities by emptying the tank and filling it to the brim. Now, note the reading using a pump meter. 

Can You Fill a Car Fuel Tank More Than its Average Gas Capacity? 

For every fuel tank car, there is a possibility to fill the tank more than the standard gasoline tank capacity. Depending on the average tank size of a car, manufacturers may fit in bigger gas tanks to make room for the air at the top to prevent vapor locking.

Of course, you cannot put 19 gallons in a 17-gallon container but there is a slight possibility that you may cross 17 gallons. 


The inlet or fuel pipe can sometimes hold a little fuel which adds to the overall car gas tank sizes. However, it is recommended to leave a little room to prevent vapor locking. If you need extra gas on the road, you can go with a reserve tank car and avoid running out of fuel for a long time. 

Car Fuel Tank filling station petrol pump

How Far Can You Drive with the Average Gas Tank Size? 

Once the fuel light starts blinking, it’s game over–or so you think. It’s important to know how far a car can go with the fuel light on and when it is a cause for concern. You’ve already found out the gas tank capacity thanks to the three simple methods given above, now, let’s see when your car will immobilize completely. 

When your fuel light turns red, there’s no reason to start panicking. This light only indicates that the car has reached its reserve level and not that it is out of gas already. The car still has around 10% to 15% of the total chamber capacity when the light starts blinking. This means it can still run a few miles before giving in. However, do not wait for the tank to get dry as this may seriously damage the engine by overheating it. 

Gas reserve level no petrol

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