Low Fuel Warning Light

My 86 Accord low fuel warning light has always illuminated at about 220 miles after filling and I could count on 75-100 miles remaining on the tank.
I have had a 99 Accord for 2 years, and the fuel light has come on 4-5 times, but at inconsistent mileage, and I usually fill up when I think the gage is reading too low to go further. This weekend I ran out of gas, and the low fuel light never came on. The gage was below empty, but I had a can of gas in the trunk, so I drove to see if the light would ever come on.
Why would the low fuel light be intermittent and so inconsistent on the newer Honda?
John
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news.west.earthlink.net wrote:

I don't know, but my 2001 Civic's fuel light is worthless, I don't even pay any attention to it whatsoever. And the fuel gauge is very inconsistent too.
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Bucky wrote:

I've noticed strange gauge behaviour in my 2004 Civic as well. The "top half" seems to go down more quickly than the "bottom half". But I really can't complain; the car did 42mpg on a recent road trip.
On the other hand, the gauge in my '93 Accord was the opposite. The "bottom half" went down more quickly than the "top half".
I never let the tank get low enough on either car to trigger the light.
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High Tech Misfit wrote:

Same thing with my 2004 Accord, it may be due to an odd shaped tank while the sending unit is linear. I had an older Camry where the top half of the tank would last twice as long as the bottom half.

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The past poster is correct about the sending unit being linear, and the tank being tapered. As well, some sending units don't see a reduction in the amount of fuel in the tank for some time.... You drive for 100 km (60 miles), and the guage hardly moves from a full tank. Once it starts to drop, it drops faster than you might expect. As for running with low fuel levels, we live in a cold climate (Ontario Canada) and running with low fuel levels increases the amount of condensation in the tank, when days are warm and nights considerably colder. I try not to run my vehicles with less than a half tank.
L Alpert wrote:

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On Fri, 05 Jan 2007 04:59:05 GMT, "news.west.earthlink.net"

I forget the behavior of my 87 Accord, I think the light went on rather late, but all the Hondas I've had since, the light always went on with 2 to 3 gallons left, generally closer to 3, and never failed to go on AFAIK.
J.
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On Fri, 05 Jan 2007 04:59:05 GMT, "news.west.earthlink.net"

Isn't it considered bad form to run the gas tank so low? The reasoning I recall is that stuff settles to the bottom and you don't really want that being sucked into the engine. Of course, if you do it all the time, I guess the sludge is sucked in in small stages so perhaps isn't as bad as doing it all at once. But I'm just a lurker. Perhaps the knowledgeable folks will chime in.
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dgk wrote:

That's not the only reason. The biggest reason I see is that the fuel pump, if in the tank, uses the gas for cooling. Running tank too low reduces it's ability to be cooled by the fuel.
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