depends if you stop when it first comes on or not.
truth is, water gauges are an historic anachronism. if you look at the
typical car's temp gauge, they don't have a linear response, it's a step
function. that means that when it's in the "normal" zone, there can be
considerable temperature variation and you'll never see any difference
in indicator position.
given that it's not really any interest when the coolant is cold, and
there is no visible variability under normal operating conditions, that
only leaves the "too hot" zone to be of any real interest - and there's
no reason it can't be served by an indicator light. in fact, it may be
a good deal more useful than a honda where if you don't happen to look
down at the gauge to catch a problem in time, you can easily cook an
engine. most people notice right away when a light comes on.
On Fri, 4 Apr 2008 10:56:27 -0700 (PDT), email@example.com wrote:
Yes, I would. I've had many vehicles with real gauges and a few of
them overheated and I never noticed the gauge go up because it
happened so fast (blown hose). I might have noticed an idiot light.
I'd like to have both in an ideal setup. It's nice to know what's
happening with water temp on a long uphill, esp if you are towing
something. My 99 Mustang GT has a temp, oil and volt gauge but all
are just idiot gauges. At least on the mustang you can put the
Dashboard odometer into "diagnostic mode" and it will give a true
digital readout of water temp. I think most idiot lights for water
temp are set to go on at about 235 degrees. If everything is good in
the cooling system it should not boil till it hits 260 degrees.
Many gas gauges do that;when you get down too far,the warning light comes
With today's modern LCD dashes,such a thing ought to be easy to
implement.Have a bright LED behind the hi segments that would light when
those segments are activated.
Even with a proper temperature gauge, you need to consider whether the gauge
is in a visible place on the dashboard. First prize for "Most Stupid
Position for Temperature Gauge" has to go to the Renault 14 (probably early
1980s vintage) which placed the gauge low-down on the central console,
behind the gear lever. Not a place that you will frequently check it as you
look at the everyday gauges like speedometer and fuel, and warning lights
such as ignition, oil pressure and handbrake.
Many years ago my sister was driving my mother's Renault 14 shortly after
she learned to drive and wrote off the engine because a radiator hose burst
and the only warning that the engine was overheating was this insignificant
gauge on an obscure part of the dashboard.
Under the hood, drill the dasboard, over the dashboard, place it on
the left pillar. That's too time consuming.
Just get the "Scan Gauge" and plug it into the obdII diagnostics port.
Besides it being a trip computer, one of the gauges is a water
temperature digital readout.
OTOH,my 94 Integra GS-R had a stuck thermostat,and I noticed the temp gauge
rising when I stopped and falling to 'Cold' when I was driving. I got the
parts and fixed it before anything worse happened.
And the last car I had with only an idiot light blew a rad hose (during a
Buffalo blizzard) and left me stranded out in the middle of
nowhere(Millersport Rd),except that a generous person stopped and gave me
and my bud a ride ALL the why home,quite out of their way. The idiot light
was useless to me.
Conclusion;idiot lights are for idiots.
in the civic, the temp gauge pointer is calibrated to be flat line from
85C to 100C. that's a pretty broad range with zero needle movement,
especially when you consider the thermostat starts opening at 78C and is
fully open at 90C, and it makes any needle movement other than "hot"
pretty much meaningless - "idiot light" territory.
while i "like" to have a gauge myself, engineering reality is that it
doesn't mean much in this situation and an idiot light would probably be
a better single choice if, like me, you just happen to be distracted and
don't check the gauges and end up cooking the motor one day. a light is
much more noticeable.
Just another sign of the "drivers are stupid, they don't need to know
anything" mentality of modern cars. Well, not JUST modern cars- General
Motors used nothing but idiot lights on most of its cars through the 60s
and 70s, but GM was the exception. Then in the 80s, Ford started using
"gauges" that were controlled by pressure switches for oil pressure- so
that they either read "normal" or "zero". Yeah, real helpful, but it
stopped people complaining about "the oil pressure changes when I speed up!"
From a driver information standpoint, the BEST setup is a gauge AND a
"check gauges" light that turns on (and sometimes rings a chime) when a
gauge is out of range. Its easy to overlook a gauge that's slowly
creeping out of range.
Do you know the refrigerant pressure in your refrigerator? No? Why not?
Do you know the temperature inside your fridge? Oh, I see--you added a
thermometer so you'd know. The little "1-6" dial isn't enough for you,
so you added something the manufacturer didn't include. And yet you
bought the fridge anyhow.
Then get a Ford Focus, or some other similiar car with a gauge
instead. Then call up all the makers of the cars that you didn't buy
and mention that a lack of temperature gauge was why you didn't buy
I wouldn't buy a car without a temperature gauge, or tachometer
either. That and I always add a voltmeter.
that makes no logical sense because the temperature gauge is extremely
non-linear. it doesn't really tell you anything other than whether the
motor is in the normal range or if it's too hot. and only one of those
two pieces of information is actually important. a light can do that
job, probably better because you might actually pay attention!
elmo's analogy is excellent because there's a lot of info about many
things that any machine operator doesn't actually need to know - they
only need to know if something is wrong. and this is one of those
That's patently nonsense, and I can give you a concrete example. The
whole point is that the gauge will tell you when some things are wrong
that a dipshit light will not. My wife's car (1993 Chrysler LH) has an
analog temperature gauge which, despite actually being routed
second-hand through the engine computer, has come in very handy. That
car has dual electric cooling fans, and a few years ago one fan motor
failed. Because it had a GAUGE and not an idiot light, she was able to
see that it was running just slightly hotter than normal (about 1/2
division, or maybe 15 degrees F) in traffic, so we opened the hood and
checked things out. The one remaining fan *SOUNDED* normal, so I would
have ever noticed the problem without that gauge, and my wife could have
been stranded somewhere or I could have wound up with a pair of warped
cylinder heads and a ruined engine if the second fan had failed also.
Instead I was able to put the fan motor on order and then replace it
without ever having to take the car out of service except for the actual
time required to change the fan motor (about half an hour).
Similarly, I've had oil pressure gauges behaving in an abnormal way warn
me that the oil filter had collapsed internally and was bypassing all
the time- something that an idiot light would never do.
Lights are ONLY useful to call attention to a reading that's gone out of
range. Gauges warn before the problem gets critical. The best of both
worlds is a light that tells you to check the gauges.
My 2001 Trans Am has gauges. And a "check gauges" idiot light.
And they appear to either be real gauges or very convincing software
"clones" - oil pressure starts high at a cold start, varies with RPM and
is lower at idle when the engine is warm. It even registers a bit
higher when I run 10W30 in it vs 5W30.
Of course, it didn't come with a shift light.
The purpose of the shift light is for drag racing. When the nitrous
kicks in, it's important that I don't hit the factory rev limiter.
(why? because the factory rev limiter works by dropping a cylinder, and
if the nitrous is flowing and I don't get a spark, I'll probably end up
blowing the engine sky high.)
And anyone who makes a comment about shift lights and automatics
probably doesn't (a) bracket race or (b) have 400+ hp on tap. :)
Oh, you mean a REAL shift light that is clearly visible without looking
down, looks like an old flashlight, has a cover for when you're not
racing... not the dumb little up-arrow on the dashboard that comes on
whenever Toyota thinks you should be using less fuel.
OR just didn't understand the kind of light you meant.
Motorsforum.com is a website by car enthusiasts for car enthusiasts. It is not affiliated with any of the car or spare part manufacturers or car dealers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.