It’s a well known fact that the more gauges your ride has, the more awesome it is. For example, an Amish buggy has zero gauges. An A-10 Warthog close air support jet has at least 25. Which is cooler? You know what’s not awesome? Not knowing what those gauges do. You can load your car up with a dashboard full of readouts, but no one’s going to be impressed when you tell them your pyrometer measures how many flames shoot out of your exhaust, or that your Auto Meter tachometer measures the tachyon count in the atmosphere. Here’s a quick guide to what some of Auto Meter’s most popular gauges do.
Speedometer: If you don’t know what this thing does, you’ve probably already lost your license. A speedometer is not for racing. It’s for not racing.
Tachometer: It’s not for measuring tachyons. A tach measures the speed of your engine in revolutions per minute. It’s great for letting you know when to shift so you don’t turn your transmission into a multi-thousand dollar box of glitter.
The Auto Meter Sport Comp tachometer looks menacing, especially with the big bazooka of a shift light staring you down.
Fuel level gauge: This guy is for more than just letting you know when you need to stop at Fina and add the three gallons you can afford. In racing, any weight matters, including fuel weight. A precise fuel gauge will let you know exactly how much fuel you have, which lets you know exactly how much you need.
Oil pressure gauge: This is good for not destroying engines. Even the cheapest, stripped out rental car has an oil pressure light, because once you lose oil pressure, you need to shut off the engine and call it a day. An oil pressure gauge is a great indicator of how much you’ve damaged your oil pan. With a small gasket leak, you won’t lose much pressure, and you can probably keep racing. If you just punched a rock-shaped hole in your pan after that last jump, your day’s over.
Your car can operate within specific oil pressure PSI range. Auto Meter’s slick Elite Series oil pressure gauge can give you the numbers.
Water temperature gauge: Like the oil pressure gauge, the water temp readout is great for not ruining engines. If your water temperature goes up, you have a problem with your coolant system. That’s not uncommon in racing. Radiators, hoses, and water pumps make up a large network of things to go wrong.
A common problem in stock and sports car racing is packing grass or dirt into the radiator when the car goes off course, which blocks cooling airflow. An Auto Meter water temp gauge is a great thing to watch after you have a hiccup and slide into the green. They include a water temperature gauge in their sleek Autogage electric mini console pod.
Volt meter: This guy measures battery charge. That might sound a little boring in racing applications, but it’s crucial to success. Remember, you can force-feed your engine as much fuel and air as you want, but unless the spark can keep up, you’re just wasting dino juice. Volt meters are awesome if you drag race without an alternator, or if you just want to stay informed on when your alternator belt fails, indicated by a gradual drop on the volt meter.
That Autogage electric mini console pod also includes a volt meter and a water temperature gauge.
Air:fuel ratio gauge: This gauge is good for tuning, which is about increasing air, fuel, and spark (as well as component strength) in appropriate proportions. An air to fuel ratio gauge will let you know, get this, the proportion of air to fuel entering the engine. This is important because fuel mix problems can be indicative of other problems with the engine. A lean mixture could mean a vacuum leak in the intake system, and a rich mixture could mean spark problems.
Pyrometer or EGT: Here’s a gauge to measure your exhaust gas temperature. It’s another great engine diagnostic tool, because exhaust gasses that get too hot can indicate poor timing or valve health. If you drive a tuned turbodiesel and you’re supposed to let that turbo cool before shutting down the engine, this is the gauge to let you know when you reach that point.
Auto Meter’s Factory Match pyrometer is clear and precise and awesome.
So Auto Meter gauges are really all about communication. The more feedback you get from your engine, the more you can impress your friends. And/or make sure you’re not about to destroy your motor. Whichever you find more important.
Andy Sheehan is a blogger, aspiring novelist, and relentless hoon. He plans to will his 2002 Subaru WRX Wagon to his firstborn, plans his daily commute around the swoop of its roads, and doesn’t plan to ever buy an automatic. A cool-car omnipath, he loves the common Mustang or Chevelle, but hunts for the weird and wonderful Velorexes and Cosmos of the autoverse. And when he can afford a garage, he’s going to turn an MX-5 into a race car.