no dude, it's the other way around. the engineers doctor the gauge so
it only tells you two things - normal and too hot, and only one of those
is important. left to their own devices, they'd leave the waste of
space out. it's the marketing lizards that insist on a gauge because
people like you think they need one and get all amped up about a subject
they haven't bothered to analyze or don't understand. even when given
That's simply not true. The HISTORY of the situation is that engineers
installed gauges for years. Then came idiot lights because designers and
stylists liked the "modern, all-electric" look of the dashboards they
could create. Then gauges made a comeback. THEN, the automakers started
getting complaints from people who'd grown up on idiot lights, and
didn't understand normal behavior, most particularly of the oil pressure.
THAT is when the "dummy" gauges that read mid-scale or nothing at all
Engineers NEVER leave instrumentation out of ANYTHING if left to their
own devices. Left to their own devices they'd install an oil pressure
gauge before the filter, one after, and one at the last feed off the oil
galley. You'd have a water temp gauge before and after the radiator, a
transmission oil temperature gauge before and after the cooler, and 8
individual exhaust gas temperature probes.
He says, as if he'd know a fact if it jumped up and bit his ass....
This would fail to solve the first engineering problem,
which is have a good car of xyz dimensions. You can't get
everything in without trading off something else that is
important to the engineering. It's also false that engineers
do not make economic decisions. In this instance, more gages
= more manufacturing costs = less than optimal sales and
As a working engineer, I realize that. I might have exaggerated a bit,
but in general powertrain engineers would argue that electric seat
warmers be omitted to meet weight and cost before they would leave out
instrumentation. Certainly very few powertrain engineers would want to
leave something so basic as a temperature gauge and oil pressure gauge
out of their own car.
Me being a retired engineer specialized in power plants, it
depends on the instrumentation. (Call that a nitpick; I am
betting you know this.) A prime example is the tachometer.
Many automatic transmission cars have one. It could be
argued to be superfluous for auto trannies and manual
trannies. I suppose it is in auto tranny cars because it
helps sell the car, though.
I do not think anyone here disputes that some sort of gage
or idiot light--one or the other, at least--for coolant
temperature and oil pressure is a very good idea. We're
talking about automotive design and how systems integrate
(e.g. when it comes to using space; offering safety to the
passengers; etc.). A contingent of engineers will be focused
on passenger comfort, and with the marketing department,
they will run the numbers and find that the seat warmers
sell X amount of cars at Y price, so they need to make it
work for Z dollars a car.
Related aside: Laypeople of course can discuss this topic
intelligently, because this is about tradeoffs. Many of
these tradeoffs are understandable simply with the
application of common sense.
Not only that, but it is helpful, because one is able to determine what
gear a car is in by comparing the vehicle speed with the engine speed.
Plus, if one has a manual transmission, if the engine speeds seem to
creep up when going uphill, but the road speed stays constant, this
suggests that there is a problem with the clutch (and soon, your bank
account is going to take a hit).
Actually, good engineering means reducing the number of gauges. Imagine
if every operation on your computer required a gauge. You'd have one for
your disk drives, ethernet card, wireless card, one for each of your USB
drives, for the temperature, a bunch for different keyboard settings,
for your floppy diskdrive (older machine only), your fire wire, for the
state of the batteries, your video port, the audio I/O, etc.
Your computer would have more gauges than a nuclear power plant (and
Bush wouldn't be able to say it, either).
What about priests and other clergy members? Should they be able to
There is some good info about how engines work on the internet (How
stuff works has a lot). Plus, there is this neat building(s) in most
towns called "a library" where they have books on the subject.
And if you're in school, you can ask your science teacher, too.
The meaning of "good engineering" depends on the goals of
what is being engineered. E.g. for a vehicle where engineers
and technicians are trying to improve XYZ, additional gages
ABC may be warranted, at least temporarily.
Of course, you CAN call up programs that do monitor and put a "gauge" on
all of those items. Right now I have a CPU utilization bar graph in the
lower corner of my screen. I can switch it to network I/O, disk I/O, or
disk space used if I want.
Good engineering really means making the RIGHT information available at
the RIGHT time. With a car, the critical things that need to be
displayed are fairly simple: Engine temperature, oil pressure, speed,
and fuel remaining are the big 4. The best designs, as I have said, make
all 4 available as analog readouts, and ALSO will turn on an
attention-getting light and/or ring a chime if any of them (except
speed) get out of the normal range. That's been done for decades (my
wife's 1993 car being so equipped) so its just DUMB to regress.
The point I've been belaboring is that to reduce oil pressure and water
temperature to ONLY a warning light is actually denying the driver
information that he/she might occasionally want or need, and which can
be valuable. Certainly the average driver doesn't need to know the
exhaust gas temperature and oxygen content, but with only 4 basic
readouts really NEEDED, why deny any one of them? It would be a
different matter if there were 10 parameters equal in importance to oil
pressure and coolant temp and designers would have to start making
decisions about what needs to be primary and what could be secondary,
but there just AREN'T!!
And even though its mostly window dressing, it does come in handy even
in an automatic car to indicate if the transmission starts slipping, TC
clutch fails to lock, etc. But yeah, 99.999% of the life of the car, a
tach in an automatic is worthless and a prime example of something
that's there ONLY for marketing.
Stop drinking your name-sake while posting and you might understand more.
A major component of my WHOLE ARGUMENT in this thread has been that
DUMMY gauges are just idiot lights with pointers and are therefore as
useless as an idiot light. How could you POSSIBLY have missed that,
other than deliberately doing so just to pick an argument?
so why were /you/ making such a big noise about wanting a gauge?
"Gauges warn before the problem gets critical."
"The whole point is that the gauge will tell you when some things are wrong"
but now you're admitting that a warning light is as much use.
"gauges are just idiot lights with pointers"
so you're contradicting yourself and arguing for nothing!
bottom line: if you want full instrumentation, install it yourself. the
stuff you get with the car is good enough for the job it has to do. any
/real/ engineer should know that.
Because /not/ wanting one is just stupid. Sure, there are reasons for
el-cheapo line cars not to have a gauge, and that's fine. But for any
driver to say "I'd rather have a light" is just flat dumb. No way around
What really gets me is the idiot gauge- costs MORE than a light, but is
less useful (because it doesn't attract attention, and worse yet may
even give the unwitting driver the impression that its a real gauge.
Not at all. Gauges do warn you before things get critical, and you
blatantly left out the obvious part of the second statement, which is
that a gauge will tell you when some things are wrong WHICH A LIGHT
WON'T TELL YOU. Hence my examples of 1) a dead electric fan which was
indicated as a slightly abnormal gauge reading but which was not far
enough out of range to have turned on a light, and 2) abnormal oil
pressure behavior which indicated a collapsed filter causing the bypass
valve to open, but was technically within the "normal" range and never
turned on the idiot light.
No, I never said that YOU read it that way, but its not what I said. I
said that "idiot" gauges (the kind that are just controlled by a switch
which either sets them to the normal range, or drops them to zero) are
just idiot lights with pointers. I never said that real analog gauges,
whether mechanical or electric, are idiot lights with pointers.
No, you're just showing the fact that you aren't actually reading (or
comprehending) posts, you're reading a few words then shooting off your
message while missing the main points. As has been the case every time
you blunder into rec.autos.tech.
You are assuming one HELL of a lot here. You assume that people know
how the machinery works in the first place. That's a strong presumption.
Without the operator knowing how the machine works in the first place, a
gauge is absolutely useless.
See, your mind is in a very, very narrow place. YOU wanted to know how
the thing works, so YOU found out. Others don't know, don't want to
know, and in many cases can't understand it even if they try. A gauge
is useless to those people.
The world where all you need to know is that "gauges warn you before
things get critical" is Springfield, and Homer Simpson runs the nuclear
power plant equipment.
No, not really. I remember in driver's ed, a few decades ago, the
instructor explaining to us that every few minutes you should move
your eyes over the instrument panel and look at the gauges and see that
they are all more or less nominal. If anything is in the red, pull over
and call for help. If you notice it moving toward the red, get ready to
pull over and call for help.
No, they still have eyes. Now, it's true that there are people who do
not do the periodic glance over the instrument panel and notice where
everything is, every few minutes. That is bad, but it's an easy skill
"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."
If all you're looking for is "in the red, pull over" then a dash light
does a MUCH better job of alerting you. That's simple psychology.
Unless you know the principles of operation of the whole machine, the
gauge will indicate nothing to you. It may be behaving perfectly normal
within its own context, but if you don't know the context then you don't
understand its behavior. If the needle wiggles around up and down, the
guy who has no idea what the gauge is for will worry. Hence the "idiot
light driven gauges".
And if all you end up with are "idiot light driven gauges," then just
put in idiot lights. You save money, and you get a better alert.
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.