Core77 writer Rain Noe recently drove a Volkwagen Atlas (a loaner he was using while his car was in the shop) and when he looked at the fuel gauge, he thought it was empty. He took a photo (above). It took me (and Noe) a while to figure out that the tank was about one-quarter full.
This design is bad for a few reasons. The little arrow next to the pump, which tells you what side of the car the gas cap is on, is easily confused as a fuel level marker. The white graduated lines could be green lines indicating the fuel level, but they are all white except for the red lines at the bottom, making it seem like the tank is dry. The vertical lines to the right of the graduated lines, which indicate the fuel level, are small and far from the driver's view.
Here's my 5-minute fix. Imagine what a real designer with more time could do to improve this.