Automobile Instrumentation

Instrumentation for vehicles has changed tremendously in the past ten to twenty years.  If you look back to the beginnings of the automobile about 100 years ago, the instrumentation was quite bare.  We, of course, don’t have direct experience with those days and what it must have been like to operate a vehicle.  But, how it is described is that one pretty much needed to be a mechanic to drive an automobile.

What we experienced over the first 50 years of automobiles is more comfort, greater convenience, and much better ease of use.  So, cars truly became a mass transportation type of scenario in that anyone could drive a vehicle.  This also was aided with the fact that the costs also fell continuously, so that everyone could afford an automobile.

The experience up until the past 20 years with vehicles was that the driver and occupants faced mainly analog gauges and controls.  The gauges in the driver’s dashboard gave her information about both operating the vehicle and also to stay aware of any potential issues.  The basic gauges are the speedometer, which displays the current speed that the vehicle is traveling.  Combined with this, typically, is the odometer that shows the total distance the car has driven over its lifetime.  You also have a tachometer, which displays the revolutions per minute (RPM) of the engine.

These are, perhaps, the main gauges that are almost always represented in some fashion.  Other gauges are provided, depending on the vehicle manufacturer and the type of vehicle you are driving.  For example, sports cars may also show an oil level and oil temperature gauge.  These are relevant to certain situations only and why not every car provides them to the driver.  A sports car may be driven hard or on a race track and the more intensive use will drive up the temperature of the engine oil.  So, a temperature gauge will be a useful thing to display to the driver, so they can adjust their driving based on the information they’re seeing.

If you contrast this with today’s latest vehicles and especially premium vehicles with more technology, you will see that the gauges no longer are analog.  They may incorporate large digital screens that use software to project images of gauges.  Interestingly, these gauges may look just like analog gauges or there may be digital gauges with supplementary analog ones.  It just goes to show that traditions don’t easily get supplanted.

Another development is the ability for drivers to additional information that they need with the use of special devices that they hook up to their vehicle’s systems.  If you are interested in getting a lot more information in real-time about what is happening with your vehicle and driving, you can find out about the best obd2 scanner.

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