We do NOT need tachometers on most of our cars. Waste of dash space

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?

Alex C<

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I agree, for 99% of owners it’s a 100% waste of space. But you’re on a car site where the 1% reside, so I’m sure you’ll hear about their uses for the tach.

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I don’t rule out that there might still be SOME uses for a tach… particularly on standard trannies. And I will never say that to folks like us on this car site that it might not be interesting to watch the tach. I can even think of ONE use I once had unexpectedly: The speedometer failed, and knowing what RPMs corresponded to what speeds in top gear I could use the tach as a substitute speedometer. But that’s really scraping the bottom of the barrel :wink: for justification.

I’ll be interested to hear responses… But if as you and I agree for 99% they’re useless, shouldn’t they be extra cost options for the 1%? Honestly, I’m sincerely puzzled that at least in their family sedans at the low end , where they try so hard to compete on price that some maker hasn’t figured out they can save $5 per car AND make the dash display more user friendly by having the truly useful info bigger on the freed up real estate.

Bingo , we have a winner.

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We don’t need temperature and oil gauges and voltmeters either but there they are.

I’m glad manufacturers are regularly giving consumers more instrumentation than the speedometer and fuel gauge only arrangement that was so common in the 70’s and 80’s, with warning lights for everything else. I think they do it mainly because it’s become an expectation these days.

I wouldn’t consider buying a new car that didn’t have one. IMHO, in today’s market it would reek of cost cutting and make me wonder what else they cut corners on.

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As quiet as some new cars are now inside the cabin, looking at the tach is the only way to tell if the engine’s running when you’re stopped. So that might be one use for a tach that non auto enthusiasts might take advantage of.

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Carmakers could save a few $ by eliminating the tach gauge.
Instead they’re gradually eliminating all mechanical gauges.
Then in theory a driver could pick what gauges (s)he wants to see.

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Honda has no temp gauges. Or oil pressure.

Big advantage of the electronic dashboard-configure it to show what you want, in some cases.

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There was a tach on the 2019 Corolla I rented not too long ago. I agree it’s hard to justify, given the amount of instrument panel space it took. I’d prefer a voltmeter to monitor the battery and alternator to a tach myself, if those were the options for that space. However I can see how a tach could prove useful to a diy’er owner as the car ages

  • Careful monitoring for unexpected changes in cold or warm idle rpm could provide a clue that’s something’s amiss w/the engine management.

  • Could be useful during tune-ups.


IMO a coolant temperature gauge is a necessity; a dummy light for that function isn’t sufficient. But an oil pressure dummy light is nearly as good as an oil pressure gauge, so I wouldn’t balk if the oil pressure monitoring was only a warning light. .

The issue with that is coolant temp gauges on late model cars don’t accurately reflect the engine temperature. I had a Lincoln and the temp gauge would read smack dab in the middle of the normal range when the engine temp was anywhere from 140* to 225*. What use is a gauge like that? I much prefer a light and audible warning when the temp is too high.

If that’s the case, I concur, no sense taking up instrument space for meaningless readings.

Why not a tach, make the oil pressure warning, cel, or any other warning that big it would still get ignored by many.

Hi Asemater!

Well, actually very very few newer carsDO have oil pressure , temp or volt or amp gauges.

(Just, at best, warning lights that don’t tell you if the measurement is way out of range or barely out of range.

Unlike the gauges we USED to have the lights don’t warn you if, say, the temperature, while not dangerous yet, is running hotter than it should be for current conditions.)

And, unlike the tachometer, if we have those gauges the do give useful info.

A temperature gauge once saved me from probably burning out an engine because its behavior suggested I had a stuck thermostat.

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asemaster

August 29

We don’t need temperature and oil gauges and voltmeters either but there they are.


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Yeah John…

I admit this is a possible use.

Do you admit that use is scraping the bottom of the barrel, and that function (tell if engine is running) doesn’t need a 5 inch diameter analog gauge? Could be done better and cheaper and less space with a green light saying “Engine On” and turns yellow saying Engine Off if it stalls?

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Hi Circuitsmith!

You wrote …

"…they’re gradually eliminating all mechanical gauges.

Then in theory a driver could pick what gauges (s)he wants to see."

I like that. So far I don’t see that happening. Maybe I need to go look at some 2020 cars.

Ideally they should have a default factory chosen set of instruments for the many owners who neither care to or want to mess with customizing. Actually, what you suggest is well within current technology and cheap.

On my aviation GPS on a plane in a small flying club I’m in that’s exactly how it works:

Each pilot can customize what instruments they want displayed on the screen and save their preferences.

Easy, instant, to load up my set of instruments when I get in the plane.

Alex C.

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I suppose so. Personally I like gauges. The more, the merrier. I’d rather have a tach than a huge screen telling me I’m listening to FM 95. Although I do like the backup camera. If automakers decided to exclude the tach (or any other gauges), I doubt they’d pass on the savings to you and me anyway. I imagine one day they might just integrate everything into one big center screen.

My ole Buick has a function where you can get digital instant engine temp, oil pressure, etc. I don’t use it that often, but I kinda like it.

Sounds like those Ford oil pressure “gauges” that read right in the middle any time the engine is running :laughing:

I used parentheses because it merely looks like a gauge, but doesn’t actually function as one

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HI George.

If the temp gauge didn’t move how did you know the actual temp was all over the map. Were you monitoring with maybe something plugged in the OBDII diagnostic port?

That said, I will tell you the water temp gauges on my older Subaru and Toyota (before the newer models eliminated such gauges) did seem to accurately show what was going on. They didn’t have temperature numbers on the gauge (only a sort of “high” “normal” and “low” marking) but they did creep up if I was going on a long uphill on a hot day and then creep back down when coasting down the other side of the mountain …

I have NO problem at all with having a warning light and audible warning when a reading calls for attention. I’d love that to be in ADDITION to a gauge (I don’t care if the gauge is analog or just a digital readout) showing HOW high or HOW low the issue (temp, or pressure, voltage, whatever) actually is and how fast or slow it’s changing.

I mentioned in another post that I fly a small plane. There’s no way in the plane we would find it acceptable to fly without being able to see actual oil pressure, coolant temperatures(the engine in the one I fly is unusual in that it has water cooled heads), head temperatures, and oil temperature. Sure nothing is that critical in a car… and yes, the vast majority of drivers neither need those nor could make any sense out of them… and will do just fine with no such gauges. Just the totally uninformative “Check Engine” light will cover them.

But if you and others are making the case, which I will agree with that the vast majority of drivers neither need nor could make any practical use of temperature and other gauges… my point was and is that the “don’t need” argument goes even stronger when it comes to the tach.
I admit (as you can see by my comments about the aircraft gauges) I’m a techi and LIKE gauges. So if I admit the tachometer in my modern car is virtually useless to me, that goes double for all the “I just want to get in and drive, don’t bother me with all that info” folks out there.