New Gauges...Accurate? Well Made? Safe?

Wayne Waldrep

Before I post a pic, do you have one of yours?
15 Year Member
Apr 14, 2003
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Hey guys. I actually typed all this two weeks ago and just now getting time to post it. It's not my priority at the moment but maybe some car discussion will be good for me right now. Sooo.....

Here we go again. I've been doing research again. This time on gauges. I've read every post I can find on numerous forums as well as tons of reviews. Reviews can be misleading though. The reviewer may even say the gauge worked fine but they didn't get an adapter for their specific use so they rate it 3 out of 5 stars. Others give a bad review of the product if the package took too long to get to them. These idiots skew the results with their psycho ratings. I want to know if the gauge works! Can you read it at night? Does it seem to be accurate? Is it good quality or junk? I also want to know how it lasts. You know, actual important qualities.

One word first. My dumb self sold two complete sets of Autometer Ultra Lite silver face gauges a few years ago. Still can't believe I did that. It was at the very beginning of my financial crunch so my only focus then was surviving. I'm still in that same mode to a certain degree right now. The thing is, as my car has gotten older, I feel it's more important to keep a very close eye on things. So my goal is to find a way to buy one gauge at a time if I can find the money to do that. If I'm stuck driving this car daily, I need to know when something isn't right. So on we go....

Which gauges would I like to have in my car? I don't race anymore. My car isn't radical. As a matter of fact, I've done everything I can to get it back as close to factory as I can. That doesn't mean I don't like some mods like my MM full-length subs or the Cobra intake I have. I just need reliable information on some key functions. These would be oil pressure, water temperature, and volts. Those are the three gauges I feel I really need. I don't need an aftermarket tach because I don't care what rpm I'm running.... I know it's below 3000! I never go over it anymore.

So what have I found?

Autometer. I never questioned their build quality in the past. After reading lots and lots of posts with people only getting a few years out of their Autometer gauges I'm not so keen to just assume they will be good. From my standpoint, whatever gauge(s) I get will be a long term investment. I can't afford to buy them twice. Heck, I can't really afford once. The next thing to mention is that Autometer gauges are expensive. This wouldn't be as bad if you could justify that extra money knowing you'd only have to spend it once. A $100 water temp gauge should be the last water temp gauge I ever have to buy. We live in a world of junk manufacturing now. Sad huh?

Speedhut. Unless I missed them they are all electric gauges. And they are even more expensive than Autometer! BUT, you can customize any gauge with a picture of your dog, your favorite emoji or your wife's name. Oh boy. They do look incredibly nice and seem to have good customer service. But I've never been a customer so I can't verify that one. Lots of the Cobra kit car guys like them. But again, no mechanical gauges? Here's one guy's take on these gauges from a car builders forum "The only thing I can say that I like about them, is that you can have the face of the gauge printed to say anything you want. You could get the part number printed on the front so that when you have to replace them, you don't have to take the dash out to get the part number. I truly hate them the most. Sorry" Pretty harsh. Last thing I need to do is finally save enough money to get something and it only lasts 3 or 4 years.

Equus. I was kinda surprised when I noticed these gauges. There is a mechanical water temp gauge. Unfortunately, their oil pressure gauge does not work with a braided steel line. These gauges will be inside the car. Even if they were not, I still don't care for the nylon or copper tubing. I also read more than enough people that have gone thru multiple replacement gauges after having failures with these. I mean, they are cheap. But they even look ok to me. Still, their oil pressure gauge is a no go for me. Should I save money (maybe) and use their water and volts and mismatch someone else's oil gauge?

Glowshift. All electric. Ughhhh. Many nice options. Not terribly expensive. Lots of negatives read on several forums including this one. I just don't know. All the fancy gadgets in the world are of no use if they don't work good and last.

So what decisions should be made? The biggest one is mechanical or electric. I've always been in the good ole mechanical camp. "Just throw a mechanical gauge on it boy so you will know for sure." Or, is that just because that's "always" been the answer? Well I know I'm only worried about this because my ELECTRICAL gauges have some ELECTRICAL issues. But, are the new electrical gauges excellent now? I need that answer. The other thing is a minor one. 2 1/16" or 2 5/8"? The smaller ones are less money so I think I know the answer to that one unless I'm convinced otherwise. The last thing isn't really about the gauge itself but the location. I had A-pillar gauges in my '86 SVO and liked them. The A-pillar is also convenient, relatively speaking, for wire and line routing. When they first came out I got one of the cowl grill panels that holds two gauges. Back then the car wasn't a daily drive and mainly went out on the weekends to...ummm...perform in synchronized acceleration. It sure made the connections a breeze. I'm not totally against it. But....I'd like to know everyone's thoughts on the location option.

After just typing the above, I looked at some pictures on the radio panel that mounts three gauges below the radio. That's a very clean install. So there's that to consider. I can make that panel myself so it would be much cheaper than a full-length triple gauge pillar mount.

Since I've typed out all that I've looked at a few other things. I looked at Classic Instrument's site and read their info. Pretty impressive gauges. They have a lot to say about the accuracy of modern electrical gauges. It's a lot to think about.

One other thing comes to mind while I'm typing all this. I really don't like gauges that have a short sweep. They are harder to see and the graduations are very close and not labeled much. Full sweep looks much better to me. However, the stepper gauges are terribly expensive so not for me. If I must use short sweep I will. I love the Ford Racing gauges. They are just dressed up Autometers but look good.

That's it for now. Let the discussion begin.

This looks pretty good to me...(borrowed pic)
radio panel.jpg
 
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90sickfox

Wasn't a pretty sight...and I've got big hands
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I have glow shift digital electric gauges...and ford motorsport mechanical gauges. ( I believe the ford motorsports are automated ). The motorsport gauges have been in multiple cars over the last 20yrs. The glowshift have been working well for 2yrs so far. Actually, MaxTow....but same brand really.
 

96pushrod

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Auto meter is usually the go-to brand for quality gauges. Well made and I’ve never personally had one that has failed, or had any friends with problems.

The equus gauges are actually decent for the price, as are the cheap Bosch ones you can buy at most auto parts stores. Never had one of these let me down either. Seen many customer cars with them as well and they always work.

Also, I’ve never had any issues with the nylon line which is provided with most gauges. There has been line that I ran for years without issue, and I like how easy it is to route.

I can’t speak for the other brands mentioned.

IMO, just buy what you can afford. At the end of the day they are probably more accurate than the stock gauges in the cluster.
 
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91GTstroked

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I recently acquired a 90 coupe with a whole aftermarket gauge cluster. It's the autometer ford racing style like the picture you posted. Seen old pictures of my car, these have been on the car for probably 8-10 years.

Speedhut gauges are very nice. I have two of them on my 03 cobra. A you can get them with a warning light.
 

TOOLOW91

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Autometer for what you’re looking to do .
I have NOS Motorsport mechanical gauges in my car as well and never skipped a beat . Eventually they are getting replaced by a holley dash or a race pak because my ecu reads Everything . Would be nice to just see it all in one spot .

On a near stock car to be dead honest id really worry about having a temp gauge and maybe oil pressure.Really accurate temp would be my biggest worry .
 
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Wayne Waldrep

Before I post a pic, do you have one of yours?
15 Year Member
Apr 14, 2003
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Cuba, AL
Autometer for what you’re looking to do .
I have NOS Motorsport mechanical gauges in my car as well and never skipped a beat . Eventually they are getting replaced by my holley dash of a race pak because my ecu reqds Everything . Would be nice to just see it all in one spot .

On a near stock car to be dead honest id really worry about having a temp gauge and maybe oil pressure.Really accurate temp would be my biggest worry .
Yep. Water temp is the big one for me too. I used to have an Autometer Ultra Lite mechanical oil pressure gauge mounted in the engine compartment. If my stock oil gauge ever looked crazy I would just pop the hood and see oil pressure on it. It was always very stable no matter how the factory gauge was bouncing around. Not a bad option.
 

jrichker

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Mechanical pressure gauge note: This is for both oil and fuel pressure gauges.


Be sure to use a gauge restrictor fitting in the pressure line going to the gauge. The restrictor will prevent all of the engine's oil supply from ending up on the pavement before you can stop it if the gauge line fails. I had a gauge line rupture, and the restrictor fitting saved my engine from serious damage.

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