ANALOG GAUGES - How accurate are they really?


Asked by Nov 30, 2015 at 07:41 PM about the 2010 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited

Question type: General

In talking with some people I'm getting the impression from them that the
analog gauge is really an optical illusion and not any more accurate than the
warning lights on your dashboard?    They say that the inaccurate needle is just
fooling you into thinking that everything is normal.    Do you agree?

13 Answers


No, because whether or not it is accurate or not, you know where the needle lies at its normal parameter on that vehicle. Once something is going wrong, the gauge, needle, will reflect this.

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Rowefast- I understand your point, but, what I'm saying is, how can you be certain that the needle is any more accurate than the warning light. In other words, just because the needle is not in the red zone doesn't mean that you're not already overheating. And, those needles can shoot up like a rocket with almost no warning.


I guess back in the day I don't know how many people ignored the warning light because they didn't know what it was for. Also it was said when those lights cam on, it was already too late. Those gauges indicate what they are for, people like to watch them. You know where the needle sits when everything is ok, so when it starts to move it catches your eye, and have time to stop. A catastrophic failure is fast, no matter gauge or light, you better know how to react fast to save the motor.

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Digital gauges are not any more accurate unless carefully calibrated which I doubt they are.

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Speaking of the temperature warning gauge/light neither will warn you if you lose all or nearly all of your coolant. The sending unit is like a stick that is designed to read liquid temperature. When the cooling jacket is dry it's reading air temperature so it won't react to the overheating. Unless you have a "blind" sending unit that senses metal temperature. That's why, in 1968 Cadillac introduced a dual feature gauge and light system which was used for many years. The gauge was replaced by a secondary warning light but it still worked the same. HTH. -Jim

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Js08016- I like the idea of a warning buzzer or alarm with the idiot warning light on the dashboard. The problem is, I talked with some mechanics and it's too complicated to hook up with the ECU on my car.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

This question is a non-starter, as accuracy has nothing to do with either analog vs digital sensors NOR their readout devices. You're also confusing sensitivity and calibration into this crude question.


Witch goes back to my opinion that a gauge is there to show that something is going wrong no matter how accurate or what type it is. The accuracy of the gauge is irrelevant as long as it is doing its job.


So, you're saying "accuracy " is unimportant?


To the degree that it works within its parameters it was designed for. Everything has tolerances, and everything man made will break.


Well, you'd better hope that aircraft has more accurate instruments than cars, what do you think? Wouldn't it be nice to have at least 50 percent of this technology in automobiles.


You know, you really know how to push buttons, (chuckle) I could go off on 50 directions on what you say or ask, Again, the accuracy of a gauge would be set by it parameters that it is designed for. Don't know how accurate those gauges are in a aircraft but as long as they do what they are designed for which I'm sure they are more accurate than a cars gauges, but who would care except an engineer, and the manufacture of the air craft. All I would care if they work. Same on a car, All I care is if they do what there designed to do. They work for me. :)


My first career involved designing calibration systems for analog laboratory measurement equipment, so i find this utterly naive question really painful. Stop the torture, Mark!

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