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Battery/volt meter or not

I said on another post that many cars have a battery/volt meter. KikeijNH said he hadn’t seen one in 20 years. I replied that my '96 Dodge, and a '99 S-10 I had and a 2001 S-10 that I drove 200k miles all had volt meters, I asked him where he had been the last 20 years, to which, he hasn’t replied. MY question is; Do modern cars have such meters?

My 2006 Chevrolet Uplander has a voltage readout if I press a button. Personally, I am an ammeter fan myself, but I haven’t seen one in a car since my 1955 Pontiac.

All Crown Vics, 1992-2009 have them…

It’s mostly an aestetic thing (for 99.9% of the time the volt meter won’t tell you anything you need to know that an idiot light won’t), and the car industry goes through cycles of putting more or less gauges. In the 80’s and 90’s, things generally trended towards more gauges and a lot of cars had more gauges on the fancier versions. I think it reversed a bit during the 00’s with some car makers going back to the uncluttered cluster look.

As more cars get those information centers like on Triedaq’s van, the whole thing may become a bit of a moot point.

My '09 Pontiac G8 GT has a full complement of gauges:

In addition to the speedometer, tachometer, fuel level and temp gauges, it also has voltmeter, oil pressure and oil temperature gauges.

Well, Greasyjack, my volt meter shows me how many volts my battery has and then how much it has with the engine running, I don’t believe an idiot light tells you that.

I’ve been in meetings most of the day…

Personally I’d LOVE a battery/volt meter. Get rid of the dam tack and give me meters.

The last vehicle I’ve owned that has a meter was my 84 S-10. None of my Nissans, Toyota’s, Lexus, or Hondas have had a meter. Nor…none of the plethora of rental cars I’ve driven in the past 20 years had a meter…this includes cars from Ford, GM, Chryco and even Hyundai.

I agree with you. I’m wondering if there are gauge kits anymore that a person could install to monitor the battery, engine temperature, oil pressure, etc. I used to see these kits at J.C. Whitney, but I don’t even know where they could be mounted in today’s cars, let alone trying to connect them.

I suspect that the point is that most people don’t know what voltage they are supposed to have with the engine running, or know that it would be different with the engine off.

I’m sure that there are. Walmart sells a $15 digital voltmeter that plugs into the cigarette lighter or power port outlet.

Many now mount aftermarket gauges on the A-pillar.

'03 Honda Civic - no, just a “battery” idiot light. All the Civic has is temp. and fuel guages.

'01 Toyota Sequoia, and '04 Ford T’bird have guages for volts (battery), temp, oil pressure, and fuel.

'00 Toyota Camry - no, just temp and fuel guage but son has the car at college so my memory could be off.

I guess it is about 50/50 on cars with volt (battery) guages vs idiot light only.

Yeah, many people have no idea what’s going on when they drive. A friend of mine rented a car and drove into Florida and back, When I asked him what kind of car it was he said “well, uh, I never noticed”. I never asked him anything else about the car.

Why would you need to know that? Voltage is irrelevant to the condition of the battery and the idiot light comes on when the alternator isn’t putting out enough voltage.

It would be handy for an overvoltage situation, but how often does that happen?

EDIT: Okay, so thinking about it more, I guess if you have a bad alternator, the gauge might help you estimate how much charge is left on the battery until the ignition will quit working. But still-- I doubt this gives you anything but the very roughest idea and, again, this is a pretty narrow set of circumstances.

I don’t see the need to read the voltage all the time.
I just wished the idiot light came on when the battery voltage falls below 12.5V, in addition to when the alternator amps fall to near zero.

Yeah, what’s the need to know the condition of the battery or the charging system… If the car fails to start you can always have it towed to a garage to see what the problem is.

I doubt that most Idiots would know what an idiot light meant if it came on.

Voltage is totally relevant to the condition of the charging system. I have a voltmeter in the gauge cluster of all my cars and truck. I could easily tell my alternator was acting up before the ‘idiot’ light went on. It saved me from having a bad day last year when my alternator started to take a dump. With the lights on, wipers on, and defroster fan on high, the voltage dropped below 13 volts and I knew the alternator was failing. The ‘idiot’ light never went on, but the alternator failed a load test.

I installed one of these easily in a 1998 Mazda. And, it was a mechanical set. I used a small tee to tap the oil pressure line to a port without losing the sending unit. It was an idiot light, but I wanted to leave it connected. The coolant gauge used a blocked off threaded port that was near the thermostat housing. I got lucky on that one. And the volt meter connected easily to the circuit that powers the cigarette lighter. Easy.

I agree with the poster that said that an ammeter is more useful, but a voltmeter is better than nothing. My current car does not have one, but my truck used to (was a 98), and I’ve had several cars that have had them. The last car I had that had an ammeter was an old police car that had it added as part of the police package. It also had a very accurate mechanical oil pressure gauge.

Of course you could also have the “idiot gauge” that some fairly recent Ford vehicles had for an oil pressure gauge. It was a gauge hooked to a sensor normally used with an idiot light—so your oil pressure either read great or nothing. Saved a dollar there I guess…