Fuel wars (I never run empty, do you?)

What is that? you may ask. Well, that my friends, is a receipt from today’s stop at a gas station.

73.02 liters filled on my 9-5. The 9-5 normally only holds 70 liters. I dare say it was pretty close to empty at this point.

When I started this morning the SID estimated 190 km left to empty. I needed to go 217 km. So, did I cheat and average 80 all the way? Nope. Some 55-60 km before the gas station, the DTE said “40 km” and then gave up on me; “low fuel”.

I realized there were plenty of fumes left and persisted. I patted the steering wheel and said no worries old friend, we will get there!.

What are your personal bests? How much fuel fits in various Saabs? Comments are open.

Kramer test driving a 900 back in the day:

Note: The NG 9-5 has improved the DTE-calculation. In my 9000 when the DTE reaches 0 km, there is still 10 liters in the fuel tank. Same with the 9-3 in my experience. Thus some caution is advisable when upgrading from previous models to the new 9-5.

45 thoughts on “Fuel wars (I never run empty, do you?)”

  1. Once that orange light goes on I am looking for a gas station. I dnt like the thught of all of that gunk from the bottom of my fuel tank ‘infecting’ my engine.

  2. almost the same price as here in norway… although my 9-3 holds only 63 liters 🙂
    and also, my 9-3 is very precise with DTE calculations (2008 model)

  3. Once the DTE tripped over to zero just as I pulled in to the petrol station in my 9-5. If I remember correctly I filled up with 72 litres (tank takes 70). My previous DTE record was 2.

  4. Be warned that fun and games with the “fume meter” may work on the flats but up in hilly regions you may be faced with a long walk.

    My 89 9000 would run out even with fuel showing and that was on the flats.

  5. Haha – funny – this reminds me of a gas station in the late 80´s that accidently debited me for the sum of THE WHOLE DAY’S SALE!

    I can tell you that it was a HUGE amount of money! And I couldn´t possibly have filled up my car like that (a SAAB 99´ 1978)

    Can´t remember all the zeros after the 77… something…

    But my heart stopped beating for a moment, that I can tell! Also the poor guy behind the cash was as pale as me.
    (I didn´t have to pay for all that, just for the 100 swedish crowns I owed.)

  6. You brought out the clip! So pumped you got it on the site finally! It will be making return trips 😉

    Everytime I go past the line I think of that scene.

    • Jeff, I have been wanting to promote that clip for a good while now. Swade recently posted a whole slew of Seinfeld Saab clips, but I think he left this one out.

      Good show.

      On a related note, some may recall my misgivings about ‘The Big Bang Theory’ last year (or the year before). I have become a fan in the mean time. Good show, but I fail to recognise the 9-5 they’re driving around in. (Only part of the interior is shown)

      In any case, the lesson learned is that Saabs help good shows get better.

  7. 9.86KR/L ? What kind of fuel is it, 80% ethanol ? In France the average price for E10 (10% ethanol) is 13.43KR/L. My old 9-3 tank is full at 68 liters, and my maximum is 65 liters filled in (receipt proven).

  8. You can either see this as “I had less than 20cm left to drive…”
    OR “the fuel counter on that particular gas pump is not really telling you the truth…”

    • I admit that is a plausible explanation, but I have been near empty several times now. 70, 71 and 72 liters are no strangers to me.

  9. After surviving my one-and only “Pataket” roll-over in Norfolk, UK during the Christmas weekend, in 1967 I had to return to Manchester the following day in one of the worst snow I had ever experienced. Not only were ALL the panels on my 96 dented, with intact windows but I had to ram my way home through many snow drifts on the empty roads. This holiday weekend was the reason that everywhere was closed.

    After 17 hrs without an open petrol garage I descended the Pennines from Buxton, towards Stockport. Desperate to find fuel at 2 minutes to midnight before my Red 96 would turn into a pumpkin, I saw the lights of a “National” station in Blue & Yellow gleaming in the blowing snow. As I drifted to the pump in free-wheel I realized that the engine had run out of fumes!

    The attendant who had just turned out the lights because it was now midnight turned them back on again for me and one again I was most grateful. You see it was Anderson’s the famous SAAB dealer that once helped Erik during a mechanical problem during one of the RAC Rallies, had saved my dilemma. The original SAVE SAAB.

  10. People…
    Once the orange light goes on please go to an gas station…
    That way you can prevent the fuel pump start to colect “impure”gas that may damage the pump.
    And don´t forget thet the fuel act as an cooler to our fuel pumps…. we don´t want them to overheat… do we??

    As for records…
    My brother discovered something funny with his 1988 9000CD…
    When the fuel level reaches a minimum, the car won´t drive but the engine keeps runing.
    That way if you are in the road, the car won´t stall… and you have power steering to pull over at the side.
    Pretty clever! In regular cars, there´s no such thing and it can cause an accident due to the HUGE strenght it is necessary to steer the car.

    Preety cool! It´s a SAAB!!

    • Agree completely … unless you are trying to keep your Saab specialist / dealer in business with fuel pump replacements.

      I try to fill mine up when I get below 1/4 tank. Doesn’t happen too often though. I have only seen the low fuel light come on a couple of times in the past.

    • Experience with 2003 9-3 SS:
      A couple of years ago I ran the tank a bit too empty, driving a good while with the orange light on, and afterwards the fuel meter stopped working. I guess the sender unit, which is integrated in the fuel pump, was fried due to the pump heating.

  11. I would never have the guts to try that in my 9-5. Once when the DTE was about 25 or 30 km the car lost power dramatically (it was a bit uphill, but not that much) and although I knew I was approaching a gas station, I can’t say I enjoyed that feeling.

    I like to stay on the safe side and I usually fill up when it goes bellow one quarter. I only get around 500 km out of one full tank anyway…

    So…Respect! 🙂

  12. Afaik near to empty tank can damage the catalysator. I use to empty my pockets @ 25% of the tank.

    Btw. there was one cool feature which GM – Opel Astra had and unfortunately Saabs SID doesn’t show : remaining amount of fuel (in litres). It saved me some grey hair once when “DTE” was~25-30km, but “Remaining” indicated still 6 litres in the tank (60-70km). Deep night on the highway while the nearest gas station was closed.

  13. Fuel capacity in my Saab is 21.1 gallon / 80 liters. Filled it up with 18.23 gallons when the DTE showed about 40 miles left. It seems to be pretty accurate with a safety margin. But running cars out of fuel is generally a bad idea.

  14. If your gas station claims to put in 73 liters while your gas tank officially holds 70 liters, either you filled it up all the way to the top of the filler neck or the gas station is ripping you off! 😉

    Is E85 cheaper than regular petrol in Europe? Here in the US it’s about 10% less expensive. I wish mine ran on E85.

    • In Sweden it is due to a tax reduction for renewable fuels, the price is not equally favourable in other European markets. Petrol cost about 40-45% more, but you also have to bear in mind that E85 contains about 30% energy meaning higher consumption/less milage. At the moment it’s a good affair to fill up with ethanoli if your car is able to run on it.

      • Have to comment this: some say that the fuel consumption is sooo much higher with E85 – but I do not agree. Of cause how you drive and if you mix petrol+ethanol makes difference. There are more FUN power from E85 which may cause you to drive a bit aggressive 😉 with higher fuel consumption as a result…

        I can se a dramatically lower fuel consumption for a longer period ONLY using E85. it´s seems to me that the car adjusts to the fuel better if you just give it some time and do not mix ethanol+petrol. Since winter is so cold sometimes in Sweden I prefer petrol (95) during that time but as soon as spring has come there is E85 until winter´s back.

        • I am not so sure. With gasoline, I get about a liter per 10 km. With E85 it is closer to 1.13 liters. (these are by no way good measurements — I only casually glanced at these numbers)

          But last time I drove with gasoline, I was thundering through Germany on autobahns with few speed restrictions. Going 190 instead of 110 tends to have an impact.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanol_fuel says

          For maximum use of ethanol’s benefits, a much higher compression ratio should be used. Current high compression neat ethanol engine designs are approximately 20-30% less fuel efficient than their gasoline-only counterparts

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E85 OTOH:

          European car maker Saab currently produces a flex-fuel version of their 9-5 sedan, which consumes the same amount of fuel whether running e85 or gasoline

          AFAICT Saab doesn’t offer higher compression ratio (the SVC project was never completed), so IMO it contradicts what the other wikipedia article says. (Interesting how both articles mention Saab in several places)

          As for the ‘kick in the pants’ effect of ethanol, as I understand it those extra horses are no longer apparent in the newest 2.0 engine. (but should help improve fuel economy I’m told)

          But, I will say this: I love to start up my 9-5 in the cold winter morning and smell the ethanol fumes from the car. That is worth the price of admission alone.

          (Just to be clear, I am in no way drawing any conclusions — merely indicating the directions my questions will take)

          • According to my very own experiences with E85 (about 65.000 km on ethanol), the consumption of my 1,8t BioPower is only 25% up compared to Super Gasoline 95. Considering the lower content of energy of 30%, I attribute this to the 25 extra hp that you get from that engine when driving on E85. This extra power alone wold make me fill my tank with the booze, but I also enjoy the significant cost reduction I get here in Germany (thanks to about the same tax benefit for alternative fuels as in Sweden). At the moment, I pay € 1,039 per liter (Super 95 is at € 1,539!!!). The extra power was one of Saab’s USPs in the past. Don’t quite understand why they’ve given up on that. Either way, I would still consider buying the current 2,0t BioPower with only 163hp instead of 175ph again, if fuel consumption with E85 is lower that the average 11 liters per 100 km I get today. At least there’s got to be some progress shown with the direct injection.

  15. I have managed to drive 2 miles (3 Km) before I found a petrol station after the DTE went to zero.

    I have also run out of fuel with the DTE showing 16 miles. 🙁

  16. Great video clip. Seinfeld producers must have had a warm heart for Saab. Here’s another movie trailer, horror-kind-of. Even though this story has some subliminal references to Saab’s Grand Mother I don’t think we should be to hard at her. In the overall picture she’s been good to us.

  17. In my hometown in Germany are only two petrol stations selling E85 and it is around 30% cheaper than petrol 95 octane . My 9-3 BioPower has a 61 l tank volume and I buy E85 whenever I can. The engine needs around 12.8 l/100 km on an average so I have a saving.

  18. Real Petrol down here in Oz is aboutthe same price $1.50 a litre for 95 Octane! makes me feel good everytime I see a European Price.

    This reminds me of the story about the South Australian Equivalent of the AA being called out to a “broken car” Car that would not start at all. Mechanic asked if there was fuel in it “sure ” said the owner! so the mechanic spnds quite some time checking everything under the bonnet (hood) and all seemed fine. It didn’t make sense.
    “Are you sure you have fuel?” he asks again
    “Yes” says the driver “The trip computer says I have 10 kilomeres left in the tank!!!!!
    Yep ranout of gas – so I don’t trust them

    I run my 95 down to 50 kilos to go never lower. Why?
    Well 30 years ago I ran out of fuel 50 kilometres from nowhere, after stuffing up how much was in the tank and how far we had to travel! My wife still never lets me forget it.

  19. I’ve done the ‘Kramer maneuver’ more than a few times, and have lost that game twice in 300k miles of driving the 9-5 Aero; thankfully I’ve only had to walk once, on a summer night. The other time I was able to coast three miles to a highway offramp, and right up to a gas pump around the corner, in -15C weather.

    When the SID gets below 10 miles to empty, it’s definitely time to stop for fuel! 😉 I’ve put 18.5 gallons into an empty 9-5 tank on those occasions.

  20. Funny, ran out in the 9000 last week, first time ever. Misfired on start up in the dead-flat garage. Managed to start, got out of the driveway and 20m down the road. Put in a few litres from the backup container in the shed.

    Filled up that morning 98Ron x 66.02l @ AU$1.65. 9000 has a 63l tank IIRC.

    • I’m pretty sure my 9000 has a 66 liter tank. (1997 CSE 2.3T)

      But now I am very curious about Frank’s 80 liter tank. That is pretty big!

  21. Wow, 73.02 liters? My record on my ’01 9-5 is 18.71 gallons or 70.83 liters. And I can attest that I have run out of gas twice playing the countdown to zero miles so I believe just over 70 liters is my limit. Did the tanks change over the years? Is there a difference in tank sizes between the States and Europe?

  22. My current 9-3 TiD (2001) has fooled me both ways. Once I ran out of diesel with 23 miles left on the DTE on the M4 motorway. Another time I have been past xero by 6 miles.

    Best to put fuel in when the orange light suggests!

  23. OK here’s another question to all…what’s the highest figure you’ve ever managed to see on the DTE? My current car record is 904 miles but my old 9-5 once managed to display 999 miles!

    What;s your record?

  24. I´ve never waited longer than maybe 30km on my 9-5 Aero (`06) more after the red light indicator on the fuel gauge has come on. But when I fill her up all the way to the fuel tank neck I get around 66L. So I must have had at least 6-8-Liters left.

  25. The lowest I have run was 60 km displayed, but at the gas station it turned out there must have only been 2 liters or so left in the tank (I filled in 70 liters, at 72 liters total tank capacity). I noticed that, on the last kilometer before the gas station, the fuel pressure must have dropped to its knees and motor power was lower than I was used to.

    The SID can be rather confusing on the DTE. When you drive long ways on open roads, at constant RPM and low fuel consumption (for me, that’s a speed at roughly 120 kph, when I just need to hold the accelerator depressed very slightly to maintain speed), the DTE will only decrease slowly (at first), or increase even, but the closer to empty you come, the faster it will drop.

    BTW, the fuel gauge on the dashboard displays a similar behavior: Sometimes, especially when you are below 1/4 full or even on reserve, restarting the car will miraculously increase the fuel level. I suppose that’s some sensor glitch… but it can really confuse someone.

  26. I never show up late for a meeting. I never leave my children late at daycare and I never run out of fuel. On rare occations I let the light on the fuel gauge shine. Then I get nervous.
    I just realize I might have a mental problem 🙂

  27. I think you will find that all DTE displays are deliberately conservative, esspecially after an American took, I think it was Audi, to court because he ran out of fuel when his DTE display said he should gave been able to drive further!

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