How About Gauges Geared To Pickups?

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Considering how much information is being generated by the sensors in and around your vehicle, you'd think truckmakers could do a better job of telling us what we might want to know. It's nice that some vehicles tell us how much oil life we have left, when we need diesel exhaust fluid or how much air is in our tires, but what about other important performance, engine or vehicle information?

For instance, why can't the bed of a truck tell us how much payload we have? If a sensor can tell you what angle the truck is sagging at, why can't it figure out how much tongue weight that translates to? Why isn't there a truck that lets the driver know how well or poorly you're driving the engine? Why not tell us when and where in the rpm dial we hit maximum horsepower or torque? If noise-canceling technology makes a V-6 sound like a V-8, why not include sound-changing software to make your mud tires sound like street tires?

We're guessing you've got a few ideas yourself. Feel free to let us know what types of gauges or vehicle information you'd like to see.

Here are a few things we've seen and like, and one mystery space where something interesting might be headed our way.


Torque Gauge

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This can be found on the new Hyundai Genesis Coupe. It instantly lets the driver know (in analog format) exactly how much torque is being made at any given moment. It is sandwiched between the instant mpg and oil pressure gauges.


Load-Adjusting Screen

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This information screen can be found on the Ram 2500 Heavy Duty equipped with the rear air springs. It's interesting that Ram decided to use a gooseneck double-axle horse trailer to show off the angle adjustments.


Active Load Switch

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Can't say it's the easiest switch to find among the Ram 2500's double row of relatively small buttons, but once you know it's there you can go right to it without looking too closely. It would be nice to have more levels of adjustment.


Mystery Space

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After asking Ford about burying the 2015 F-150's trailer brake controller so deep under the dash (almost in the same place an aftermarket brake controller would go), we were told there will be something special for that special piece of real estate just below the 4x4 dial and just above the controller. We're guessing it will be some kind of new suspension adjustment control or possibly a completely new dump storage bed toggle. images by Mark Williams


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Those are great ideas.
I'm sure the truck cartels will get right to work on that....
Right after they get done improving the fuel economy and making the trucks affordable again.

What a crazy idea, more sensors and more gauges to go wrong, with information that no one knows what to do with. Also, too many gauges / infotainment automatically adds to the "distracted driver" syndrome and therefore causes more accidents.

How about a gauge that demonstrates to the driver the amount of smelly black diesel smoke they are spewing out when they take off from a street light. They obviously enjoy this.


At a basic level, trucks should offer most gauges standard. If I'm paying $40k or more, there really is no excuse.

Some common gauges that all trucks need to offer are: oil pressure, oil temp, transmission temp. In today world, I think it would be nice to have gauges that give analog and digital readouts simultaneously.

Diesels trucks need to come standard with a pyrometer. I don't understand why truck makers doesn't consider this a necessity. Anybody who has ever done serious towing with a diesel will add one on.

Lastly, both diesels and the Ecoboost should have a boost gauge. Maybe the Ecoboost might already have that, I don't know.

Some of these ideas are good. I like the idea about knowing payload or tongue wieght. The problem is we keep adding more and more crap to pickups and the price keeps going up and up. For instence my 99 Larmie ram diesel was $42 000 when new. Now I see loaded rams for as much as $85 000 in Canada. I want a vinyl floor diesel truck with power heated leather seats and all the other regular power options. I want dials for my heat controls not a computer screen. How about some decent fuel economy too. My truck gets calculated milaege around 19 or 20 mpg...

Hemi Monster, the 2015 F150 will have a boost gauge in the cluster. It appears to be available in two different screen settings.

"It instantly lets the driver know....exactly how much torque is being made"

That's hyperbole. The truth is, it would be amazing if any vehicle instrument provided exact results.

It's actually quite simple to measure torque. You do own a torque wrench?

To measure torque you measure deflection. A metal when loaded deflects in a linear fashion. That is, (not actual) if you place one kilogram on the end of a metal bar it will defect 1 centimetre, when you place 5 kilograms on the end of the same bar it will deflect 5 centimetres. (the distances I gave are plucked, different metals deflect differently under load).

A rotating shaft under load will twist the shaft, you can actually measure this shaft deflection.

On a turbo prop aircraft ie, torque is measured so you know what your power setting is.

A turboshaft engine or prop system on an aircraft is a constant speed engine, ie, it doesn't rev up or down, so power is measure by the torque it's developing.

A prop governor is used to determine the angle of attack of the prop blade to give you your speed.

But for a motor vehicle, why do you need to measure the torque of an engine. Computers will do that and automatically adjust your engine, gearbox, etc.

I only wish that all gauges were above the steering wheel right on the dashboard for ease of reading..

@Big Al:

Theory and application are much different. You will never see an exact result. There'll always be interference, design tolerances, manufacturing variations, calibration errors, etc.

Most of these things are already being monitored by the ECM, but not necessarily shown to the driver. Adding a simple aftermarket monitor will give you access to this. I have an Edge monitor in my EcoBoost and, while I don't get as much as I'd like, I do get more than the cluster gives me.
However, I think Ford could've EASILY made that data available where the transmission temp is shown. They just didn't.... The 2015 F150 seems to rectify that to an extent.

Give me a break! One answer to all the questions above. Money! I dont want to pay 75,000 dollars for my next truck just to have a bunch of unnecessary features.

OBDII monitors and generates data for pretty much everything related to the vehicle. It's not hard at all to add gauges for the readings that we don't commonly see.

The reason that not everything has a gauge come standard is simply marketing. They need to be able to reserve having all the gauges for only the top trim levels.

I agree with you. It wouldn't matter what the meter read, your right foot will determine how much torque you need.

The reality is those feature don't cost much money.

How much is it now to install power windows? Nearly every vehicle has power windows, at least in Australia.

How much will it cost to manufacture hand cranked windows?

With robotics manufacturing most of these electronic devices they cost very little and could even be cheaper in some cases than going back to the good ole days.

If it was cheaper then we would see more of it.

Another aspect of your comment is you only are paying the $75k that you mentioned if you do purchase the top of the line pickup with all available stuff you don't want.

Just buy a base model for $30k, you'll save a lot of money and a lot less whining.

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Why does Ford think Super Duty Powerstroke owners need a boost gauge, but do not need a DEF gauge? The boost gauge is completely USELESS, and I hate being surprised when the DEF runs low.

I'd like the rear view camera back on the Silverado's rear view mirror please.. Not the damn center of the dashboard. At least let me hit a button and option it. Nothing like looking in your rearview mirror and then at your dashboard. Back and forth, back and forth. Worthless for snow plow work. And I'd rather have a straight rail tucked up frame with a SFA and a Denali interior Chevrolet over some stupid gage package.

We're guessing the special mystery space on the F-150 is for the Raptor.

For the diesels, EGT is a very important number to know when towing. Likewise, transmission oil temperature. Most of us add these with aftermarket solutions but having them built into the dash would be a far more elegant solution.

I would like to see an ATM Machine inside my truck cause its getting tough driving a full size pickup thru a narrow bank drive-thru that's designed for compact cars.

The last Tom#3 is an imposter using my name without my permission

Lou BC
The 2015 Colorado-Canyon can become a 4G LTE Internet hot spot using OnStar.
They also offer leather seats, USB Ports and driver assists like fwd collision control.
The technology you want is already here with the 2015 Colorado-Canyon plus you can haul the same weight as a full size pickup and tow up to 7000 lbs!

Colorado-Canyon is the right pickup for anybody!
Visit your Chevy or GMC Dealer today for a test drive.

If trucks had everything Mark Williams wanted not many people could afford them.

I have said it before, for those of us who tow heavy, true coolant/oil temps, EGT and oil pressure. Alternator too.

All the sensor are there already on the modern gas/diesel motors. You just need the computer to tell what they are.

In a actual guage on the dash. No need to scroll thru menus.

In a truck the gauges I absolutely NEED in my direct sight line, Oil Press, Battery Charge, Fuel Level, Water Temp, and Trans Temp. All of those either directly indicate a vital system of the car or indirectly. For example, if the battery charge suddenly drops from 14 to 12 you know you either lost a serpentine belt or your alternator went out. If the coolant temp starts to climb then you know its the belt. Either way you'd better pull over immediately. These gauges should be front and center on the the dash to constantly monitor them. Some of the other stuff you mention is cool, but it should be optional or perhaps on a screen you can toggle through while still monitoring the main system gauges

Ideally I would like these bracketed by RPM and Speed (See pretty much every current truck layout on the market). At a minimum though they should all be bunched together if they are not going to be directly in my line of sight. The Chevy/GMC dash from 2000 - 2007 is prime example of the right way to do this, and the Chevy/GMC dash from 2007 - 2014 is a prime example of how NOT to do this, vital guages are split down the middle by the speedo and tach so you have to scan both sides of the dash to get an accurate picture of your trucks vitals.

One display I really like is the Ram 1500 center display. You have good mechanical readouts (I really like mechanical gauges) of several vital parameters and you can program the lcd center screen to display additional parameters in the 4 corners of the screen and then toggle through all available parameters in the middle of the screen. That is useful for example if you are towing, you might want transmission temp front and center so you know if you are pushing too hard. I haven't driven any of the others but I would be extremely frustrated if they didn't have something similar.

"I would like to see an ATM Machine inside my truck cause its getting tough driving a full size pickup thru a narrow bank drive-thru that's designed for compact cars.

Posted by: Tom#3 | Oct 19, 2014 2:49:08 AM"

I honestly find the most annoying part of getting to the window is the drive leading around behind the bank, or Mcdonalds drive through or whatever, noting like negotiating a 90 degree turn with a 6 foot radius and maybe 6 -12 inches of wiggle room to run a little wide and then line up straight. Hairpin turns on a go-kart track have a more forgiving radius than the driveway leading back to the drive-through window at some banks and fastfood joints. I have come up to some recently where I would probably have trouble in my wife's Jetta.

If they were to put a guage that gives max cargo weight or tongue weight then the car companies might be more liable for customers overloading their trucks. I can see a "limp home" mode being added to deal with overloaded trucks.

I have what is called an "Ultra Gauge". Shows many gauges that aren't shown on the dash... absolutely love it!

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