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How Far Can a Kia Optima Go With The Gas Light On?

How Far Can a Kia Optima Go With The Gas Light On?

Understanding how many miles will your KIA Optima travel with the gas light is essential for avoiding inconveniences during daily trips and ensuring a smooth driving experience. Factors such as fuel capacity, engine type, trim levels, temperature, and driving habits significantly determine the distance the car can cover with an empty tank.

How Far Can a Kia Optima Go With The Gas Light On? Kia Optima can cover a distance of 36 to 85 miles on the remaining 2 to 2.5 gallons with the gas light ON. It is 36-77 miles for the 2001-2020 model years. Hybrid models from 2011-2020 can cover 63-85 miles.

This article will discuss the mileage of the Kia Optima along with fuel tank size, remaining gas when low fuel light comes on, and various factors, like temperature variations and trim levels on the distance covered.

Fuel capacity of a Kia Optima

The fuel tank size of the Kia Optima can vary according to its model year and engine type installed. Mostly, its capacity remains the same for a particular generation.

However, hybrid variants of the sedan can have different tanks than the gasoline-powered models. Its size varies from 16.4 gallons to 18.5 gallons for all 4 generations from 2001-2020. 1st generation models from 2001-2005 can cater to 17.2 gallons of gasoline.

2nd generation models from 2006-2010 have slightly reduced fuel tank size of 16.4 gallons. Later on, 3rd and 4th generation car models from 2011 to 2020 have increased gas capacity up to 18.5 gallons.

Hybrid models from 2011-2016 can cater to 17.2 gallons on a single refill. While hybrid and plug-in hybrid models of the sedan from 2017-2020 can carry 15.9 gallons.

These figures are for the EX trim level of the car. You can expect variations for the different trim levels within the same model year of the sedan.

Remaining fuel in the tank of Kia Optima with gas light on

A low fuel light comes on the Kia Optima when the needle hits 1/8th of the tank size mark on the gauge. For an 18.5 gallon tank, it is about 2-2.5 gallons for 2011-2020 models of the car.

While hybrid and plug-in hybrid models of the sedan from 2017-2020 have reserve fuel of 1.5-2 gallons. For the 2011-2016 hybrid models, the leftover gas amount is 2-2.3 gallons, having a tank size of 17.2 gallons.

The same is the case for 1st generation models from 2001-2005. While 2006-2010 models have remaining gas of about 2 gallons when a yellow low fuel warning pops on the driver information center.

These figures are from data collected from different drivers based on specific conditions. However, actual data can vary according to prevailing conditions under the influence of multiple factors.

Some drivers have reported as high as 4 gallons remaining when the low gas light turns on, and they refilled the tank.

Number of miles Kia Optima can cover with low gas light On

Mileage of Kia Optima with remaining fuel when gas light comes on varies according to engine type, driving conditions, terrain, drivetrain configuration, and load on the car.

For 2001-2005 models with 2-2.3 gallons left in the tank and a combined average of 18-20 miles per gallon (mpg), you can cover 36-46 miles.

The 2006-2010 sedan models can cover a distance of 44-54 miles with a combined average of 22-27 mpg. 3rd and 4th generation models with conventional regular gas engines from 2011-2020 can go up to 54-77 miles on the cars remaining 2-2.5 gallons.

You can expect variations in these figures depending on the factors mentioned earlier. According to data collected from 36 drivers owning different variants and models of Kia Optima, the average distance covered with a low gas light is about 35 miles.

Number of miles for Kia Optima hybrid with gas light on

Hybrid models have better fuel economy than regular gas-only models because of batteries as an alternative source of energy. 2011-2020 models of Kia Optima in the 3rd and 4th generation have hybrid and plug-in hybrid models available.

You can cover 68-85 miles for 2011-2016 models with a combined average of 34-37 mpg after the gas light illuminates on the center display.

Furthermore, hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants of 2017-2020 sedan models can go up to 63-84 miles on the remaining fuel after low fuel warning pops up.

These figures can change according to driving conditions and the respective share of the driving journey between the electric motor and gasoline engine. 

What is the safe mileage to cover when the gas light turns on in Kia Optima?

Going too deep in the gas tank frequently to consume the last drop out of it is not a safe option for the engine and the driver. Therefore, you should consider a safe range to refuel your car to avoid untoward situations.

According to recommendations from various experts and Kia Optima owners, refueling when the gauge shows 1/4th level of the tank capacity is the best option. Moreover, you can have around 36 to 77 miles of driving range left when the gas light comes on.

However, you should set the 30-35 miles as the safe limit and should go to a nearby gas station within this mileage. This limit is suggested based on the average data collected from several Kia Optima owners.

Effect of temperature on the remaining fuel in the tank

The temperature can significantly affect the remaining fuel in your vehicle’s tank. As the temperature changes, the fuel volume can expand or contract, leading to variations in the apparent amount of gas remaining.

In colder temperatures, fuel tends to contract, occupying less space in the tank and potentially giving the impression that you have less gasoline than you actually do.

In warmer temperatures, fuel can expand and occupy more space, making it seem like you have more gas than you thought.

According to US government official figures, there is about a 1% change in gas volume for a 15-degree change in temperature.

So, for temperature changes between -40 and +100 degrees Fahrenheit, you will get different mileage when the low gas light comes on as the volume of the gas changes.

Why does the distance to empty (DTE) reading keep changing with a low gas light?

The Distance to Empty (DTE) reading on your vehicle’s dashboard provides an estimate of how many miles can you travel with the remaining fuel.

It can keep on varying under the influence of various factors, including your recent driving habits, temperature, traffic pattern, and road conditions.

Therefore, its value continuously changes based on real-time data. However, if you observe any abrupt changes in DTE when the gas light comes on, there can be problems in its calibration.

Therefore, you should take your Kia Optima to the workshop and inspect its fuel gauge and computer module for malfunctioning.

Effect of driving the KIA Optima with low gas on fuel filters and injectors

Driving a Kia Optima with low gas can negatively affect the fuel filters and injectors. When your vehicle’s fuel tank runs low, it increases the risk of drawing in dirt at the bottom.

It can clog the fuel filters, reducing fuel flow and potential engine performance issues. Moreover, the fuel injectors operate efficiently with a consistent flow of fuel.

If debris or dirt blocks their inlet or outlet, it is not good for the fuel system. I am telling from my experience that I have to rebuild the fuel injectors and replace the fuel filters after driving the car with gas too low in the tank. You can also interchange these parts from the same year models.

Distance to empty for different trim levels of Kia Optima with low gas light

Different trim levels of Kia Optima have diverse fuel economy based on available engine type and other features.

For example, the S and LX trim level in the 2020 sedan model has a city/highway/combined EPA rating of 25/35/30 mpg with a 2.4-liter I4 engine. Therefore, you can go 60-75 miles with low gas light.

At the same time, EX and EX Premium trim levels in the same model year have city/highway/combined fuel economy of 27/37/32 mpg with a 1.6-liter turbo engine.

You can cover an average distance of 64-80 miles in this variant. SX trim level has an average of 21/30/25 mpg with a 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 engine for the 2020 model. It can cover 50-62 miles with remaining fuel in the gas tank.

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