#747 – Potentiometer

I had a car with a busted fuel gauge for awhile. The needle would freely bounce around with no connection to reality. I knew how many miles I would usually get in a tank of gas so I relied on my odometer to know when to fill up. Whenever I got within 50 miles of my estimate I would visit the gas station. This worked out just fine until winter came. It turns out that warming up the car uses gas without adding miles to the odometer. I was warming it up one morning about to leave for work when it stalled. At first I didn’t know what happened and then it suddenly dawned on me… that moment is recreated for you above.


25 thoughts on “#747 – Potentiometer”

  1. speearr says:

    Ahahaha…. He needs a graphical display to prevent future confusion.

  2. SharkJumper says:

    Indeed. The empty side should carry the above illustration.

  3. Space Butler says:

    having a fuel gage that says “enough” is as ingenious getting a tattoo of a wrist watch.

  4. the man that ends with gift says:

    whenever my car gets any war close to the one quarter, my almost-out-of-fuel light comes on and drops the needle to E, i may have70-80 miles left, but i feel better if i can see the darn needle at level

  5. jahg says:

    The future is digital, Biff.



  6. Mad Mule says:

    i have had that happen to me my cars gas guage read about a little bit under a quarter of a tank and i was think okay i can run around and fill up at the end of the day i was wrong i got about 50 feet from my parking spot before it stalled on me

  7. Busalonium says:

    Lol, that is realy clever.

  8. dartigen says:

    My gauge works, fine, except when I’ve been parked on a slope. Then it goes haywire (either it says I have a full tank, or empty). It takes about 3km on a flat road to sort itself out.

  9. greenimp says:

    ok, i give up, what is this week???

  10. Dwarg91 says:

    things gone wrong

  11. Pesto_Nightmare says:

    Awhile ago, I drove this old jaguar. It’s gas gauge had the same problem, and I too relied on the odometer. Until the odometer stopped working.
    So it surprised everybody when the battery died, while we were waiting for a light to turn green.

  12. ZackDark says:

    @Dwarg91: things are always going wrong for him…

  13. The Dukenator says:

    Biff reminds me of this sequence from Home Improvement:

    Tim: Don’t forget my car’s in the shop. So I’m gonna take your car and drop you guys off at school.
    Brad: Wait, what makes you think you can just take my car just like that?
    Tim: Because I paid for half of it, just like that.

    [Tim is driving, with Brad in the passenger seat and Mark in the rear]

    Tim: You guys O.K. with this move to Indiana?
    Mark: Yeah, I think so.
    Brad: Well I’m totally depressed.
    Tim: This move’s gonna be hard on all of us. It really will.
    Brad: Well, not about the move, Dad. I’m a little depressed my daddy’s driving me to school in my car.
    Tim: We’re talking about family; it’s way more important than any car. [Brad looks at Tim] Well it’s just as important as a car. More important than some cars.
    Mark: Dad, check the gauge. We’re out of gas.
    Tim: Oh, don’t worry about it. We’ve got plenty of gas to get you guys to school and me to “Tool Time.”
    Mark: Dad, we’re on empty.
    Tim: It’s a fuel gauge. Empty doesn’t mean empty; it’s just a guide. Don’t you know that? We’ve got ten miles left. And it’s only five-point-three to get you to school, another two-point-six to “Tool Time,” you add those together, you, um, [Tim tries to add them up on his fingers] you add them together, y’know, and, um, I don’t know what it is but I know it’s less than ten. [The car splutters to a halt]
    Brad: Well, that ten miles went by rather fast, huh?

    [Tim has got some more gas, and they are driving again]

    Tim: Y’know, it just seems like yesterday you guys used to just sit in my lap and hold the wheel while I drove.
    Brad: Hey, don’t get any ideas.
    Tim: Y’know, that’s gonna be the hardest part about moving. So many memories. This is where you guys grew up.

    Tim: Hey Brad, I’ll take that, er, change for the gas money now.
    Brad: Oh, yeah. [Brad hands Tim some notes]
    Tim: And maybe next time you’ll fill up the tank like I asked you to. I hope you learned something from this.
    Brad: Yeah, that the “E” stands for Empty and not Extra ten miles.
    Tim: I’ll tell you one thing, if I’d built this car it’d have an extra fuel tank in it.
    Mark: Dad, if you’d built this car we’d be taking the bus.
    Brad: If there’s one thing Dad knows how to do, it’s build a car, O.K?

    Rest of the episode can be found at: http://www.hiarchive.co.uk/index.php?content=script&s=8&e=26

  14. Ziggy Stardust says:

    Ha! Enough is never enough.

  15. Rasheed says:

    Oh man, I’m getting to that point. My car has no “fuel light” and I’ve ran out twice. I’ve had the car for almost 13 years, and I’m getting around 40 less miles in the tank than when it was new. Yet it varies how much fuel I can actually pump into the tank (assuming all thieving pumps are dishonest at the same rate). I’ve been empty empty and put in 14 gallons, or “near” empty and fit a whole 16.

  16. the_gail says:

    I had a car with a fuel gage that wasn’t connected to reality for awhile. Unfortunately the dash was digital and most of the time only the last three digits of the odometer showed, one of which showed 10ths of a mile…I still don’t know how I never ran out of gas.

  17. Wizard says:

    I’m used to using the tripmeter (the resettable odometer) as a gas gauge on my motorcycle, since it doesn’t have a gas gauge. At least it does have an idiot light. The previous bike didn’t have even an idiot light, but it did have a reserve tank. Then there’s my pickup; for some reason the low-fuel light reads “Check Gauge”. I mean, they don’t even specify which gauge…

  18. Tirinka says:

    Irresponsible Biff week?

  19. Micah says:

    I still think this is Batman villain week. Today’s villain. THE RIDDLER! And it’s nice and vague like The Riddler is. The E stands for Enigma. As in Mr. E. Nigma.

  20. GuyD says:

    Just remember: A turned on AC needs extra gas too!

  21. no name says:

    That’s pretty cliche but of course you take all the cliches one step further, Chris =D

  22. -2! says:

    Neglect week perhaps

    (Credit to Vennificus for exploding my brain with the a bit to specific version of this guess on April 21st, 2009 at 8:36 pm “Household neglect week!”)

  23. My own fuel guage varies by a quarter of a tank.

  24. A-Code says:

    We once were driving home from Germany (yeah, I live in Europe) and I was sitting behind the drivers seat, looking at the dashboard and telling my dad to refuel, because the gauge read “empty” for the last 100 kilometers…

    Getting off the highway (or whatever it was) there was a slope down. In the middle of the slope the engine gives up and using gravity and the last bit of speed we had on the slope our car stops at 50 meters to the next gasstation…

  25. MrD says:


    Biff can just siphon fuel from one of his other cars though.

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