Way back when I drove a hot V8 with 4 on the floor and liked to outdrag hot Mustangs at the lights, and thought that sometime I might go to the dragstrip, at a time (1968) when almost no cars came with standard tachs, and only a few offered it as an option, I paid extra to have one. It was a bit useful in that if truly trying for maximum performance/acceleration it had useful info for optimum shift points. And, yeah, I could notice if the idle was set right.
In the years that follows tachometers became standard in performance cars. And slowly became standard as far as I can tell on all cars.
When I moved 15 years ago to owning automatic trannies it was clear that the tach offered almost no useful info. If I watched it right I could note at what point the automatic was shifting gears. Interesting, but so what? I suppose it might’ve given me a hint if the tranny was not performing correctly, but that would have had other symptoms anyway.
And step back a moment (those of you car savvy who hang out here):
Ask most of your friends who are not mechanically interested “what use it the tachometer in your car? What does it tell you? Has it ever been of any use to you?” I bet it’s even less useful to them… probably totally meaningless to the majority of drivers. Bet a few might not even know what you’re talking about. Not necessarily because they’re not intelligent, but because it’s never been relevant to them. No insult to my wife’s intelligence or car savvy (she can drive a stick shift fine, know what a spark plug is, etc) but I doubt she ever looks at the tach. I’d frankly for her and almost all drivers there’s absolutely no reason to do so.
Jump forward to today when I drive a CVT. There’s this tach about 5 inches in diameter, as big as the speedometer, hogging space. Even more useless than on my old four speed automatic. It’s kind of interesting to note how the CVT hunts around for optimum gear ratio but in truth totally unnecessary.
I’m MUCH rather they got rid of the tach (or made it a tiny digital readout) and gave me something really useful in all the space that freed up. Like how about a real engine temperature gauge instead of just a “it’s too hot” idiot light comming on? So I could see "is this REALLY so hot I need to pull over right now… or can I just drive a bit slower because it’s just marginally hot and we’re about to come to that long downhill? Or expand the small print on the other dash panel info (like estimated range remaining to be easier to read.
So, since it obviously costs the maker a few dollars to put that big tach in there, and since it’s virtually useless to the vast majority of drivers the vast majority of the time, and since makers are always looking for any harmless way to save a few dollars on production costs, WHY then do they continue to have them? Yeah… I can sort of understand that on cars that people buy for performance, or at least the image of performance, they’d think they have to have them for images sake. But they put them in family sedans, and whatever.
Is it just because “well, we’ve always done that?”
Does anyone agree with me that most drivers neither need or use tachometers and would not miss them if they disappeared?
Or am I just a fuzzy curmudgeon alone on this?