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Old 04-29-2008, 12:24 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Stock Temperature Gauges

In short - they suck a lot.

In long -
For whatever reason, manufacturers of automobiles use the stupidest temperature gauges you could imagine. The issue is pretty much across the board, possibly with the exception of Jeep, but I haven't been in a new Jeep. My 93 Grand Cherokee did not suffer from this problem, but that's no spring chicken these days.

The specific problem is - the temperature gauges in modern cars are terrible in many ways. The most obvious way is no actual temperature readouts on the gauge. You're lucky to get a "high" and "low" little red line, and a big green swath of "good probably" in the middle of them. Are you at 220? 200? 240? you'll never know.

To exacerbate this issue, most manufacturers 'tweak' their temperature gauges so they always show right in the middle of the green "good" temperature area. I guess this is so the uneducated people don't freak out when they see the needle moving up and down as it would do during normal operation. I've seen this accomplished with diodes and such that make the needle "stick" in the good area for a wide range of temps. Some gauges can be modded so that the needle actually swings to-and-fro with temperature changes, however you still get the above issue where you don't know what the temperature actually is.

My last car, I had a datalogger to the ECU and logged temperatures anywhere between 185 and 230 degrees, and the OEM temperature gauge didn't move a lick. I ended up replacing the OEM gauge with a cheap-o autometer one for when I wasn't logging and it was much more informative.

Don't rely on the stock temperature gauge, when it says "hot" it may already be too late.


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Old 04-29-2008, 12:31 PM   #2 (permalink)
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well your average Joe driver with coffee cup in one hand and cell phone in the other, driving down the interstate, more then likely does not even know where the temp gauge is, never mind what it means or how to use it.

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Old 04-29-2008, 11:44 PM   #3 (permalink)
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he issue is pretty much across the board, possibly with the exception of Jeep, but I haven't been in a new Jeep. My 93 Grand Cherokee did not suffer from this problem, but that's no spring chicken these days.
WOOO JEEP!!!!!! lol, I know, it's funny how my 13 year old vehicle has more gauges and info about how the vehicles running than a new 07 or 08 vehicle. And mine actually moves, I can actually tell when the thermostat opens cause it drops about 10-20 degrees from the rush of cold coolant.

And I have a volt meter, so I can look at the load on the engine, the lower the volts, the more load. it usually drops when the a/c compressor kicks on.

Oil pressure gauge helps a lot too. hotter the oil, the lower the pressure. It moves around the most, ranging from about 35psi, to about 70. sometimes down near 20's, but while coasting, pressure is lower, when I'm back on the gas, the pressure shoots up a little again.

what's even better is my grandpa's 1968-74 RV has even more gauges than mine! it's about 40 years old and has vacuum gauge instrumentation, with green and red areas that say good mpg's, poor, idle, and decelerate. Why can't modern cars have more on board info!?

Yea.. I drive a Jeep and I'm on a fuel economy site, but you just wouldn't understand... "It's a Jeep thing!" *Jeep Wave*

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Old 04-30-2008, 02:15 PM   #4 (permalink)
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It's definitely the fault of "the masses"... damn them and their stupidity ruining everything for people that actually pay attention... Maybe cellphones do rot the brain? Or, have people always been this stupid and now auto makers just play along?

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Old 06-14-2008, 05:02 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Allow me to defibrillate this thread if I may...

Most temperature gauges in cars today are what could be called "dummy" gauges. They work exactly as described above, the needle does not move within the engine's normal operating range. On my Escort the needle climbs until the engines reaches about 190*, then stops dead in it's tracks, even up to 220* when the fan kicks on. This is all based on info from my Scangauge II of course, since the stock temp gauge has no markings. I'm not sure at what temp it starts moving again, but I know it does because I had an overheating problem once (leaky radiator). My Firebird on the other hand has a real temperature gauge, and I can see the normal changes in coolant temperature from, say, sitting at a red light to cruising at a steady speed. This gauge reads generally pretty close to what my Scangauge shows, although it uses a different sensor than the computer does, so there is a slight variation. In keeping with the dumbing down of cars, later model F bodies (Camaros and Firebirds) switched to a dummy gauge so people wouldn't worry that their cars are heating up when stopped.

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Old 06-16-2008, 03:55 PM   #6 (permalink)
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the gauges on my vw say 190 mid and 260 at high temps. tho of course it doesnt move past 190, maybe 10 degrees or so.
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Old 08-13-2009, 03:25 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I hate stock gauges. On older cars, I used to remove the gauge clusters and put updated aftermarket gauges in a metal panel that went in place of the old cluster, including a tach and aftermarket speedo.

Too bad that costs more money that it's worth these days. Can't really find quality gauges for less than $30 each anymore.
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Old 04-16-2010, 11:56 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I used to drive a '94 Chevrolet Cavalier and I must admit that the stock gauge on that car was more informative than the one on my current '07 Hyundai Accent. In the summer, when I was stopped at a stoplight with the A/C on, I could see the dial move towards the "H" end as the fan would turn on. On my accent, not only does it not move once it reaches "normal operating temperature, around 190-195F," but it is also hardly moves out of "C" until the coolant temp is already 140-150F! I never realized how much the temperatures fluctuate until I got my handy scan gauge!
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Old 04-21-2010, 04:04 PM   #9 (permalink)
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...most of the current 'digitally-driven analog-pointer' temperature gauges are really nothing more than go/no-go gauges, because all they show you is: too cold, OK, too hot...and, basically, nothing inbetween.
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Old 04-22-2010, 06:23 AM   #10 (permalink)
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if to have a car from the land of tiny gadgets ...japanese does good.. american and euro have been made fun of forever...

I still run all oe, never repaired, and it is exact as it gets.. at 23 years old.

the speedometer is something to complain about in all vehicles for the past 50 freakin years.. I can agree with that one..

I suppose a shoutout to nippendenso (sp) is called for if to be specific about decent guages.

I remember swapping a direct line guage, expensive, in my subaru over the oem one.. they both did the exact same thing.. I mean within freakin microns...

I come from all v8s, always custom guages or guages that sucked,of course.. all american.

there are some nice ones out there, today more than ever, as market is very communicated, junk don't last even with the greatest of ads..the net is great for this...putting junk in its place.

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