Published: Apr 20, 2011 3:46 AM EDT
Updated: Apr 19, 2011 11:21 PM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- With the non-stop rise in gas prices, drivers seem to be pushing the limit, trying to go that extra mile before filling up. But running out of gas could cause you to run out of money. It's something we've all done, let our gas tanks get to that empty mark. While it may be a quick fix until you get to the nearest gas station, you could be doing long term harm to your car's bells and whistles.

It's a bill that no one behind the wheel wants.

"A $600, $800, $900 bill for a fuel pump," said Jay Barr, owner, Poor Man's Auto.

If you push to pinch pennies, you could see it.

"I would never let a car go below half now a days because of the price of the pumps," said Barr.

With regular gas dangerously close to the $4 mark, drivers are leaning in the limit and causing more harm than good.

"Running them low on fuel kills them. There is no doubt in my mind. Even the fuel pump manufactures will tell you the same thing," said Barr.

Fuel pumps sit in your gas tank and are cooled by the fuel around it. No fuel, plus no cooling, equals big bucks in the repair department because the pump over heats and burns out.

Mechanics suggest that it's a good idea to pull off and top off the tank before you reach that empty mark.

"You've got to make that sacrifice to fill it up. Its going to save you money in the long run. You don't want to buy a fuel pump," said Barr.

Southwest Florida drivers said they know better.

"I usually wait until it gets to be about a third in. Living in Florida, I don't like to have an empty gas tank," said David Doupe, a driver from Punta Gorda.

"I never run it to empty. In fact I think my fuel light has only been on one time," said Bobby Clemens, who never lets his gas tank go empty.

"I know better but like most people I push it to the limit anyways," said Mike Rivera, a driver who pushes the limit.

Since January 1st, Road Rangers have helped a little more than 8,000 drivers on I-75. More than 800 of those calls were for fuel. The free service only carries enough gas to help drivers get to the next exit. It's why the Department of Transportation suggests keeping your tank fuel.

Filling up once and keeping it there will help in the long run.

"Bite the bullet one time and then keep it up. Put the normal $5 that you put in and keep it that way," said Barr.

Signs of a fuel tank going bad, when you start to see rust or dirt in the fuel filter when you replace it. It's a sign you gas tank has not stayed above that half a tank mark.