4 Ways to Add a Gas Mileage Display to Any Car

by Benjamin Jones on September 2, 2008

Whenever someone signs up on the EcoModder forums, the first question they get is “do you have any fuel economy instrumentation?” So I’m asking the same thing to you today, and also offering some solutions. Instrumentation is important for anyone trying to get better mileage since it’s the only way to get real-time feedback on your driving habits. Automakers are realizing this and (also motivated by consumer demand) are starting to add mpg displays on newer vehicles. However, if you’re not one of those luck few, fear not! There is a solution out there for most of you.

4 aftermarket gauges to help you save gas

1. MPGuino

Okay, I’ll be upfront. The MPGuino is first because its what I use and it’s an EcoModder original. It’s great because it can be configured to work with almost any electronically fuel injected vehicle and only costs $30-40 to put together. The downside, however, is that it’s completely DIY, so you’ll have to know how to solder and how to wire it into your car (and it might like kind of ugly if you don’t make a nice case).

It may seem a little cumbersome, but it’s open source and pretty much the only option for pre-1996 vehicles. However, for the tweakers out there this is definitely the best choice.

Find more information on the MPGuino:

2. Scangauge II

The Scangauge II is the most popular mpg gauge out there, and for good reason. It’s easy to install (just plug it into your OBDII port under the dash) and easy to use. The backlit display shows four pieces of data at once and it can check engine codes and aide other diagnostics.

It’s best qualities are definitely the ease of set up and used, but the $160+ price tag can be a lot for people to swallow, even though some ecodriving can win that money back in relatively short order.

3. PLX Kiwi

The PLX Kiwi is a new kid on the block, but it definitely looks interesting. The big differences between the Kiwi and the Scangauge II is that the Kiwi has a big color screen and can also “teach” you how to drive efficiently by rating your driving habits and making ecodriving suggestions. These features do burden it was a $300 price tag, though. Like the Scangauge, this is only for 96+ vehicles.

Expect to hear more about the Kiwi on the EcoModder blog in the near future, as a forum member is currently getting a test model from the company that he can try out on several of his cars.

4. Dashhawk

The Dashhawk, a lesser known display from MSD seems like a neat device. Even though I don’t know anyone who owns one it appears attractive and looks like it works much the same way as the Scangauge. Unfortunately, the $300 price tag is a little scary. I will be requesting a test model from MSD to see if it’s worth its beans, so stay tuned. Like the Scangauge and Kiwi, this is only for 96+ vehicles.

Moral of the story

If you’re interested in saving some gas, the environment, or even some money, you’re probably driving a car that can accept some type of fuel economy instrumentation. It may seem expensive, but the payback is real and these devices retain their value well if you ever want to hit eBay with it.

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1 Daniel Tucker September 2, 2008 at 2:17 pm

You can also check out AccuFuel for the iPhone. It doesn’t give you instant gas mileage but it does allow you to record fillups and it calculates gas mileage which for me turned it into a game. Every fillup I’d try to do better, and everything I did in my car became very conscious.

2 Benjamin Jones September 2, 2008 at 2:24 pm

Daniel –

Good point! You can also use the ecomodder garage to track and compare: http://ecomodder.com/forum/emgarage.php

3 digguser September 3, 2008 at 1:42 pm

The 3rd one looks iphone ish. Kinda…

4 Chris July 21, 2009 at 9:35 am

This is a fantastic article, however there is another device that I prefer to use. The Watchdog from Bully Dog Technologies. It has similiar features as these, plus can be used as performance guage of 20 plus items, as well as a performance tool for optimizing your driving habits!! The Eccomodder guys should test this one, I am sure they could get one to test! bullydog.com

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