Project Grey Mustang 5.0: Part 8 – Testing Auto Meter’s Elite Gauges

by Vince Illi

Most “gear heads” want to know all the vital signs of their car.  Monitoring parameters such as oil pressure, coolant temperature, and exhaust gas temperature will tell you if your car is running at its optimum or if there might be something wrong.  The problem is that modern cars are coming equipped with fewer and fewer gauges.  There was a time in the ‘80s when even a pedestrian Plymouth Sundance came with voltage and coolant temperature gauges that actually told you meaningful data about how the engine was running.  Now, some cars don’t even have a temperature gauge, and often the gauges that they do have are little more than glorified “Idiot Lights” that only move their needles when something bad has already happened.

Project Mustang is, unfortunately, one of the latter.  Although the dash of Premium models came equipped with a whopping six gauges (almost unheard of anymore outside of trucks), most of the gauges don’t actually tell you much of anything.  The worst offender, in my opinion, is the oil pressure gauge, which I have never seen move even once after starting the engine up.  Because oil is the lifeblood of the engine, it is important to be able to monitor it.  So we contacted Auto Meter, and they sent us two of their new Elite Series electric gauges: Oil Pressure and Oil Temperature.

Of course, Auto Meter’s Elite gauges still come packed in those yellow boxes!

If you ever take a trip to your local auto parts big-box store and look at the gauge section, you’ll find that there is a huge range of quality when it comes to gauges.  You can immediately tell upon opening these boxes that the Elite gauges are of the highest quality.

Pictured here is the Oil Temperature gauge.  First of all, this gauge weighs maybe an ounce.  I think I’ve felt heavier paper clips.  So no comments about adding weight to the already-heavy Project Mustang!  Also note the two buttons on the bottom, which use rubber dust covers to keep your grubby hands from getting dirt into the mechanisms.

If you’ve ever installed an electric gauge before, you know that there are generally 4 connections that you require: power, ground, illumination, and sender signal.  So what is all THIS?!

I count ten separate pins on the back of this gauge…  And why does that say “Data Logger”?!

Instead of using individual wires to install your gauges, Auto Meter includes an entire wiring harness with their gauges.  Note that the connectors for the senders are OEM-quality and weather-tight.
Page 1 of 4 Next Page
Bookmark and Share
Shane Laake
Shane Laakelink
Tuesday, March 24, 2015 7:30 AM
I can see an old Civic with a fart can having the "VTEC Yo!" stickers (or license plate if cool enough) light up based on Pro-Control.

It would be cool to see some use of active aero triggered by a speedometer or shift reminders set by a tach. Maybe even open grill flaps based on coolant (or oil) temps to provide better aero when temps allow.
Tuesday, March 24, 2015 8:35 AM
It could be used to disable high boost until the coolant or oil temperature indicates that the engine is warmed up.
Tuesday, March 24, 2015 11:37 AM
I have an HKS fan control on my S13 that has similar capabilities. It's wired to turn on a set of FAL fans when the engine temp hits a certain value (195 I think) and then shut the fans back down when the temp goes back to 180. It works really well except took a few tries to figure out the fan control is ground switched so wiring it up to the signal on the relays did nothing.

It's running of the stock Nissan 2 wire ECU water temp sensor (rather than 1 wire dash sensor) but i have noticed when the fans kick on and off, the temp usually makes a few degree jump (I'm guessing from the voltage change). It has a second temp input so I may wire up an oil temp sensor someday but I just usually see what the oil pressure is at idle and I can tell how hot or cold the oil is by how far it drops.

Interesting, I was helping a friend with a Jeep and he broke a stock oil pressure sending unit in half. Inside, there is a simple microswitch with a rubber cover. I've always heard the factory dummy light is just that but it was interesting to see how it was setup. Basically, if there's enough oil pressure to depress the microswitch (probably 2-3psi), the light stays off. I assume the fancier ones have some kind of load cell inside to determine how much pressure is there.

I just removed the stock 1-wire oil pressure sending unit and replaced it with the HKS sending unit on my S13. I figured the light on the dash won't work but since I have an actual gauge (with a warning light) who cares. Reduced the need to instal T's or relocate the sensors.
Tuesday, March 24, 2015 5:51 PM
I figured after Autometer bought Stack in 2007 it would eventually re-brand Stack's Pro-Control meters under the Autometer brand at some point.
Dusty Duster
Dusty Dusterlink
Tuesday, March 24, 2015 7:06 PM

I like that idea!
Wednesday, March 25, 2015 7:10 AM
Planning on using the Stack version of these gauges for the RX-7. I love the fact that I can use one sensor to feed the gauge and input on the ECU :).
Post Comment Login or register to post a comment.

MotoIQ Proudly Presents Our Partners:

© 2018 MotoIQ.com