With gas prices nearing record levels, motorists who attempt to stretch a tank of gas too far could end up stranded, cautions AAA Southern New England.

Drivers who allow their cars to run out of fuel not only put themselves in a potentially dangerous situation, but also could see costly repair bills.

Here are some reasons why it's costly and dangerous to squeeze every drop out of a tank of gas:

Potential Costly Repairs Can Result from Running on Empty -- Running a vehicle to the bottom of a tank may cause sediment to clog the fuel pump, the fuel filter or even the fuel injectors. In addition, when a minimum level of fuel is not maintained it could cause the electric fuel pump inside the tank to overheat. The cost to replace that one component alone can be $500 or more in parts and labor.

Dangers of Running Out of Gas -- Running out of gas also can put your personal safety and that of your passengers in jeopardy. Power steering and brakes can be lost when the engine dies, and drivers can end up stranded in the middle of a busy highway without the ability to move their vehicle.

Find the Lowest Priced Gas before Hitting "E" -- AAA recommends drivers maintain at least a quarter tank of fuel. Everyone today is looking to save money by finding the lowest priced gas before they fill up. AAA can help in that: Both the TripTik Travel Planner on AAA.com and the free AAA TripTik Mobile iPhone app can help drivers plan efficient routes and locate the best places to stop for gas. And while on the go, AAA TripTik Mobile provides motorists with turn-by-turn navigation and audible directions. You can use these tools to compare frequently updated fuel costs at gas stations near their location.

Here are some Safe, Smart Ways to Save on Gas -- Rather than stretch your fuel supply too far, motorists can make a few simple changes in their driving habits that can greatly improve fuel economy.

Instead of making quick starts and sudden stops, go easy on the gas and brake pedals.

If there is a red light ahead, ease off the gas and coast up to it rather than waiting until the last second to brake.

Once the light turns green, accelerate gently rather than making a `jack rabbit' start. The U.S. Department of Energy reports aggressive driving can reduce a car's fuel economy up to 33 percent.

Speed also is a key factor in conserving fuel. The fuel efficiency of most vehicles decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Every additional 5 mph above 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for gas. Take it easy on the road and you'll see a tremendous savings at the pump.

AAA also offers more than 40 ways motorists can reduce the amount of fuel they consume in its "Gas Watchers Guide" available online at AAA.com/PublicAffairs.

AAA Southern New England is a not-for-profit auto club with 40 offices in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut, providing more than 2.8 million local AAA members with travel, insurance, finance and auto-related services.

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