real gauges or glorified idiot lights?

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by Mike Deskevich, Aug 14, 2003.

  1. i have a tech question for those of you who know more about your
    subaru than i do. i have a '99 legacy gt and this summer has been
    very hot where i live, so i've been trying to pay attention the the
    temperature gauge more. what i've noticed is that once the car warms
    up, the needle is always in the same place (just a little below 1/2
    way up). it doesn't matter if it's below 0 or over 100 degrees
    outside. it also doesn't matter whether or not i'm stuck in traffic
    or driving 80 down the interstate. this seems a little wierd to me, i
    don't think any cooling system in the world would keep the engine
    (water) temperature that constant. as a contrast, my saab gauge
    fluctuates between 1/3 and 2/3 depending on ambient temperature and
    driving speed.

    so my question is, is the temperature gauge just a gloified idiot
    light in the subaru with only 3 or so positions (cold, normal, hot).
    i found out that the transmission temperature gauge in the ford trucks
    is that way, and you can special order a real temperature gauge for
    them. i think it'd be nice to see if the engine is starting to get hot
    so that you can turn it off/drive it easier before things go bad.

    Mike Deskevich, Aug 14, 2003
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  2. Mike Deskevich

    Jeff Guest

    My 2000 Lagacy has a temp gauge which also sits rock solid just below
    half way. But I actually got it to move once. I was able to exceed
    the thermal capacity of the cooling system once and saw the temp gauge
    in action. I was driving 60mph up a 5 mile long steep grade with me
    and 4 other passengers, AC on and ouside temperature of 102 deg F.
    About half was up the grade the temp gauge started on it's way up. By
    the time I reached the summit it was almost at the red line. I was
    ready to kill the AC and back off on the throttle but as soon as I
    crested it dropped right back down to normal. I haven't stressed the
    car that much since then and the gauge has been rock solid at just
    below half ever since.

    Jeff, Aug 15, 2003
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  3. Yes.
    From what I've been told, the coolant temp gauge
    in most cars is setup to read virtually
    the same position for the normal range of values and only
    when below or above those would you notice.
    Obviously, for most of us, that works fairly well.

    The reason why is likely the same reason Mazda changed
    the oil pressure gauge in the Miata to be the equivalent
    of an idiot light: Too many customers wanted to know
    why it kept moving up and down. Even though
    there was nothing wrong, the average driver doesn't really
    know much about oil pressure or engine temperature in terms
    of what is good and what is bad.
    Dave Null Sr., Aug 16, 2003
  4. Mike Deskevich

    Don Nickell Guest

    Too true! I'm dating myself, again, but what the heck it all goes
    to verify your statement.

    In 1962 I bought a new Chev Impala SS, bucket seats, posi, 4 speed
    with a 327 cid engine with a Rochester 4-throat carb HD suspension.
    By the standards of those days, it was really HOT! GM had decided
    to replace the gauges with idiot lites for engine temp and oil
    pressure. The dash was virtually the same as the '61 Impala that
    had gauges.

    Things were going fairly well, I'd installed Michelins, and car was
    like on rails, for the '60's. We took off very early one morn on a
    vacation to Jellystone (from LA) and I noticed the engine temp was
    going sky high. To make a long 4 day story short, GM told me "that's
    the way it's designed." I got hold of a zone office rep for SoCal
    and he told me confidentially it was to sell cars. Your engine will
    go out in about 35K miles and you'll trade the car in for a new '64.

    I had already noticed I was getting about 500 miles/qt on oil and it
    had been coming down over the last 6 months. Screw you GM, I bought
    a '62 Porsche and have never looked back. I can't afford them now
    and I really enjoy everything about Subaru and the Outback and Baja.
    Wish I'd waited and gotten a '04 with the turbo, but without HD
    suspension the turbo is waisted.

    Don Nickell, Aug 16, 2003
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