By Luke Neal
An on-board computer seems to be a must-have for all new cars. We are obsessed with knowing instant and average mpg, how much fuel is left in the tank, how far we’ve driven and how fast. But is it all really necessary?
In the old days, when the fuel light came on you knew you really ought to put some more fuel in as soon as possible, as you didn’t really know how much longer you could safely drive before running out. Nowadays, when the fuel light comes on it is accompanied by a readout designed to tell you exactly how far you can push it before you really need to fill up. And, even then, the manufacturers will have built in some kind of buffer so when the readout displays zero miles, in reality you still have a few miles left, yes? Perhaps this is true of some models but not, it seems, the B-Max.
I recently ignored the fuel light, and the ‘mileage left’ countdown until, before I realised it, I was on my way to the fuel station with just three miles remaining. Still plenty to get me to the garage – just half a mile away – but then a warning came up on the dash: ‘Engine service now!’ and the B-Max lost power, seeming to go into safe or limp mode. I made my way to the garage, filled up, and normal service was resumed. Lesson learned. It seems zero miles left probably does mean zero in the B-Max.
Strictly speaking, I should not have allowed the B-Max to get so low on fuel. Bauer’s driving at work policy, like many companies’ policies, states that the vehicle must have at least a quarter of a tank of fuel at all times. My experience is a good reminder why this policy is in place.
It also got me wondering: with Easy Fuel technology, which inhibits forced entry and siphoning, how would you refill the tank if you did actually run out of fuel? Well, Ford supplies the vehicle from new with a specially designed funnel for this purpose in the boot with the spare wheel or inflation pack, but, after this experience, I’m sure I’ll never need to use it.