Lamenting lack of gauges or readouts on workhorse cars

Mar 4, 2019
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Fresh from forum discussion on problems with "smart charging" I have been lamenting the disappearance of gauges or readouts in modern cars. Apart from engine temperature and some fluid level warnings and over temperature warnings, not much else.
My wish list is:
Vacuum gauge
Turbo boost
Gearbox oil temp
Battery output voltage and amps
Alternator output voltage and amps ( to see when "smart charging" is charging or sleeping and leaving the battery to supply power)

I am sure sensors are reading all these, if I could only tap these readings to an array of nice black and white analogue gauges. :confused: Digital are not as good in all light conditions
My father was an instrument fitter in WW2 and could have done all this in that era. What about now?
 
Nov 11, 2009
8,965
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30,935
Fresh from forum discussion on problems with "smart charging" I have been lamenting the disappearance of gauges or readouts in modern cars. Apart from engine temperature and some fluid level warnings and over temperature warnings, not much else.
My wish list is:
Vacuum gauge
Turbo boost
Gearbox oil temp
Battery output voltage and amps
Alternator output voltage and amps ( to see when "smart charging" is charging or sleeping and leaving the battery to supply power)

I am sure sensors are reading all these, if I could only tap these readings to an array of nice black and white analogue gauges. :confused: Digital are not as good in all light conditions
My father was an instrument fitter in WW2 and could have done all this in that era. What about now?
Mines got engine oil temperature and throttle position too. And if set to X mode it shows wheel angles and which wheels have traction and which don’t 🤭🤭 No water temperature or battery condition. And there’s a whole array of read out charts showing economy with time. They are dual coloured red or green histograms. Seems to be mainly “ red”. Although this is the best yet after a 90 mile run to Wales with no caravan in tow.
But normally I have them all turned off and just have a display that shows analogue time and ventilation mode , relying on the cars information alerts to warn me. Fuel level is always on in the separate console display behind the steering wheel That one I find quite useful 43B1E92B-4630-4866-BEF5-116D73AE307F.jpeg
 
Nov 6, 2005
4,309
223
20,935
Fresh from forum discussion on problems with "smart charging" I have been lamenting the disappearance of gauges or readouts in modern cars. Apart from engine temperature and some fluid level warnings and over temperature warnings, not much else.
My wish list is:
Vacuum gauge
Turbo boost
Gearbox oil temp
Battery output voltage and amps
Alternator output voltage and amps ( to see when "smart charging" is charging or sleeping and leaving the battery to supply power)

I am sure sensors are reading all these, if I could only tap these readings to an array of nice black and white analogue gauges. :confused: Digital are not as good in all light conditions
My father was an instrument fitter in WW2 and could have done all this in that era. What about now?
My Citroen C1 has no gauges other than the fuel.

If you want all those gauges, get a Scangauge II - it connects through the OBD port and can be programmed to display any of the sensors which feed the ECU.

I don't see the real value in vacuum or boost - that's just watching the effect of the throttle pedal - gearbox temp is only an issue in overload situations.
 
Nov 11, 2009
8,965
1,115
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My Citroen C1 has no gauges other than the fuel.

If you want all those gauges, get a Scangauge II - it connects through the OBD port and can be programmed to display any of the sensors which feed the ECU.

I don't see the real value in vacuum or boost - that's just watching the effect of the throttle pedal - gearbox temp is only an issue in overload situations.
I’d agree as since we bought a Note in 2007 I’ve got used to minimal gauge dashboards. The cars own sensors are now comprehensive and linked to its information system outputs that’s what I rely on. Too much information leads to fiddling and distractions when driving. I can tell my throttle position and turbo boost by other means, like white lines coming at me quickly.
 

JTQ

May 7, 2005
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I suspect the makers intent is to minimise sundry displays down to only info critical for driving safety, and leave the cars "brain" to manage how it reacts to those sundry parameters, an aspect modern technology is very well able to do?
This, coupled with a trend to declutter dashes, together with the very few purchasers wanting them to invest in such kit they probably see little marketing advantage in providing it.
As said much can be provided off an OBD port, but I suspect then most people and probably authorities, like the use of phones, would view that as a distraction too far for the driver to access whilst driving.
 
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Nov 11, 2009
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I suspect the makers intent is to minimise sundry displays down to only info critical for driving safety, and leave the cars "brain" to manage how it reacts to those sundry parameters, an aspect modern technology is very well able to do?
This, coupled with a trend to declutter dashes, together with the very few purchasers wanting them to invest in such kit they probably see little marketing advantage in providing it.
As said much can be provided off an OBD port, but I suspect then most people and probably authorities, like the use of phones, would view that as a distraction too far for the driver to access whilst driving.
The one trend that is counter to safety is to have large screen displays that require the driver to drill down the menus in order to select an output or effect a change. I read a review of a current Volvo where the reviewer was extremely critical of its large drill down tablet control center. Citroen are particularly bad in this approach too. . Me, I like large round things that I can feel in the dark in order to effect essential changes alongside nicely illuminated and tactile buttons.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Roger L beat me to it,

Most cars now have an ODB port where garages can plug in their diagnostic system to interrogate the cars ECU's. You might be quite surprised at what information is available if you can decode it.
 
Jun 16, 2020
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I used to have a Citroen C5, probably the origional version. Loads and loads of lights all over the place. In the centre of the dash was one large button. One touch on that and everything went off except the speedo. For nighttime driving this was fantastic. You don’t appreciate the amount of distraction until it’s gone.

So minimalist for me.

John
 
Feb 23, 2018
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I use the Torque Pro Android app with a £5 bluetooth OBD port scanner. It's also handy for checking for error codes.

The one trend that is counter to safety is to have large screen displays that require the driver to drill down the menus in order to select an output or effect a change. I read a review of a current Volvo where the reviewer was extremely critical of its large drill down tablet control center. Citroen are particularly bad in this approach too. . Me, I like large round things that I can feel in the dark in order to effect essential changes alongside nicely illuminated and tactile buttons.
I still have a non-touchscreen car, which I honestly prefer. I hate fingerprints on things, so a touchscreen will drive me mad. I also hate the trend with Ford/Mercedes/BMW et al, where the infotainment screen looks like a tablet smashed into the dashboard. It looks like an afterthought. I've driven 'new' Volvos with the touchscreen, at least it looks like it was made part of the dash.
 
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May 7, 2012
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I only want to know if I have a problem when there is one. Not sure the gauges some previous cars had did anything more than confuse me.
 
Jul 18, 2017
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I can remember the boy racers many years ago who had every conceivable gauge in the car to make the car look like it was fast. Most had the the Morris Minor 1000. Any one remember those fancy Weber carburettors etc with noisy exhausts?
 
Mar 10, 2006
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I have plenty of information on my SEL AID screen vacuum gauge, temperature, fuel, mph, rpm, average mpg, present gear and mode selected, fuel range, navigation if I want, or oil temperature, adblue level etc.

On the other screen boost pressure, lap timer, and lots more.

For the battery voltage I use a plugin voltmeter in the power socket which lives there...
 
Oct 8, 2006
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You have to remember that the average driver doesn't have a clue what various gauges mean or how they should be interpreted. Ergo you either remove them or make them available but by devious routes otherwise there would be a queue at the door of every dealer when drivers read something they don't understand and go knock on their door.
Our Passat Estate has turbo pressure and a couple of other items that can be displayed. My wife found them accidently on our way back from Norfolk earlier today!
 
Jul 18, 2017
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You have to remember that the average driver doesn't have a clue what various gauges mean or how they should be interpreted. Ergo you either remove them or make them available but by devious routes otherwise there would be a queue at the door of every dealer when drivers read something they don't understand and go knock on their door.
Our Passat Estate has turbo pressure and a couple of other items that can be displayed. My wife found them accidently on our way back from Norfolk earlier today!
Perhaps someone can list the various gauges with an explanation of eaches function?
 
Jun 20, 2005
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Once you had a tachometer and oil pressure gauge you had arrived. No ECU in those days🤪
 
Oct 8, 2006
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With modern engines, many running on fully synthetic oil, the pressure gauge is of no interest but one thing my car has is an oil temp facility (down a menu of course.) You might get a shock when you see the temp: with my 2L 150TDi GT Passat estate it is usually around 96C solo, but can get to 113C when towing. Fully synth oil can handle that with ease but if the engine uses semi synth or mineral that temp would suggest an oil cooler would be - shall we say - beneficial!
 
Mar 4, 2019
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Interesting. Shows the value of full synthetic. Is yours DSG with oil clutch and if so can you read gearbox oil temp?
 
Nov 6, 2005
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With modern engines, many running on fully synthetic oil, the pressure gauge is of no interest but one thing my car has is an oil temp facility (down a menu of course.) You might get a shock when you see the temp: with my 2L 150TDi GT Passat estate it is usually around 96C solo, but can get to 113C when towing. Fully synth oil can handle that with ease but if the engine uses semi synth or mineral that temp would suggest an oil cooler would be - shall we say - beneficial!
Few, if any, modern cars use anything other than fully synthetic oil - particularly diesels since DPF were introduced over 10 years ago - there just aren't any mineral or part-synthetic oils which meet ACEA-C2 or C3 which diesels with DPF require.

On a pedantry note, fully synthetic oil isn't synthetic! It's hydro-cracked mineral oil and was subject to a big court case about the name - except in Germany where oil can't be called synthetic unless it really is.
 
Oct 17, 2010
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The one trend that is counter to safety is to have large screen displays that require the driver to drill down the menus in order to select an output or effect a change. I read a review of a current Volvo where the reviewer was extremely critical of its large drill down tablet control center. Citroen are particularly bad in this approach too. . Me, I like large round things that I can feel in the dark in order to effect essential changes alongside nicely illuminated and tactile buttons.
I agree OC. I have a Insignia Elite Nav. and it has an 8" screen measured corner to corner, which is just a bit smaller than the TV Dad bought to watch the coronation on, in the centre of the dash. There is a further 3.5" behind the steering wheel. The centre one is a touch screen, it also has a touch pad between the seats to operate it, IE one finger moved to the right dose that, two fingers, in the form of a "V" thrust vertically says this.
Information is shared between the tow screens, totally confusing, most of the time centre screen switch off or on audio, the one behind the wheel set on information, fuel consumption ave speed etc.

Mind you quite like the sexy voice from the sat nav.
 
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Oct 17, 2010
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I can remember the boy racers many years ago who had every conceivable gauge in the car to make the car look like it was fast. Most had the the Morris Minor 1000. Any one remember those fancy Weber carburettors etc with noisy exhausts?
I had a Ford Cortina 2.0ltr Mk 3 that had a twin choked Webber throttles opened in sequence, you could feel the second one open. I loved that car. Wallowed through corners, used to eat cam shafts, had to replace two in the 90,000 miles I drove it. The bonnet looked like an acre field in front of you, go anywhere in snow.
Had to scrap when MOT told me it had no inner cills left.
 

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