Advertisement
Find a Car
Go!

Why Does My New Car Have No Temp Gauge?

Follow Bengt

gauge cluster - 2012 Mazda5

gauge cluster - 2012 Mazda5

Enlarge Photo
While cars are coming with increasingly complex instrument panels, you might notice one feature is missing from your new vehicle: the coolant temperature gauge.

Over the past several years, we've noticed the trend across a wide range of vehicles. Such is the case, too, with the latest versions of the Mazda3 introduced last year, and with the new 2012 Mazda5 we drove this past week.

And it actually has nothing to do with cost-cutting, or with lean instrument-panel design (although we do like the new hooded gauge clusters in Mazda's latest vehicles, with their large round dials).

According to Robert Davis, Mazda's senior vice president for quality, research and development, there's a cool blue 'cold' light instead of a temperature gauge because of consumer psychology: In short, owners are more likely to drive gently—and “not thrash the engine”—if there's a light on than if the temp gauge simply shows cold.

There's a lot of misinformation in question-and-answer sites about revving an engine when cold. For the truth here, look at nearly any vehicle owner's manual; most advise against revving an engine too high when cold, for good reason. The alloy parts of an engine don't fit together in quite the same way until fully warm, and the oil pump has to work especially hard to get oil into the smallest spaces when the oil is thicker.

And with the thinner oils being introduced this year and over the next several model years—allowing better fuel economy and good high-heat protection—they counterintuitively place engines under higher stress in cold starts.

For 2011, Mazda is transitioning to zero-weight (0W20) synthetic motor oil in all of its four-cylinder engines, which enables an extended service interval of 10,000 miles in light-duty use (easy highway driving) or 7,500 miles in normal use (more stop-and-go, shorter trips).

Some might be disappointed to see these gauges go away, as slight variations in coolant temperature are often your first sign that thermostats are sluggish or radiator passages are becoming clogged or corroded.

But based on several follow-up questions with other automakers' engineers, temperature gauges aren't going away completely; we'll continue to see them in performance vehicles, as well as in vehicles that are often modified in the aftermarket.


While cars are coming with increasingly complex instrument panels, you might notice one feature is missing from your new vehicle: the temperature gauge.

 

Over the past several years, we've noticed the trend across a wide range of vehicles, with many models dropping the traditional coolant-temp gauge.

 

Such is the case, too, with the latest versions of the Mazda3 introduced last year, and with the new 2011 Mazda5 we just drove this past week.

 

http://www.thecarconnection.com/marty-blog/1055897_2012-mazda-mazda5-first-drive

 

And it actually has nothing to do with cost-cutting, or with lean instrument-panel design (although we do like the new hooded gauge clusters in Mazda's latest vehicles, with their large round dials).

 

According to Robert Davis, Mazda's senior vice president for quality, research and development, there's a cool blue 'cold' light instead of a temperature gauge because of consumer psychology: In short, owners are more likely to drive gently—and “not thrash the engine”—if there's an idiot light on than if the temp gauge simply shows cold.


Advertisement
 
Follow Us

 

Have an opinion?

  • Posting indicates you have read this site's Privacy Policy and Terms of Use
  • Notify me when there are more comments
Comments (18)
  1. Not to mention the battery gauge has been omitted from most vehicles these days.
    Next thing you know, only sport cars will have tachometers; replaced by leaves, feathers or something else ridiculous.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  2. As far as tachometers go, most everyday drivers have an automatic, and can physically hear how hard an engine is working, eliminating the need for a tach anyway.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  3. how about:
    Why Does My New Car Not Have A Temp Gauge?
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  4. Temp guage needed. Not so much for cold but to see trend of Temp climbing - out of normal range that is usually in as an indication of onset of a overheat problem. Turn off Air etc/increase Idle speed in stop / go or worst case turn on heater to get add cooling. Knowing of impending issues can go a long way to helping to eleviate a problem
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  5. I once had a 1986 Mazda RX-7 with BOTH lights and gauges and buzzers, in fact. I liked that system but I understand that there IS Cost Cutting going on. My 2009 Mazda 3 still has gauges. Guess I'll go with whatever they offer. I'm not going to give up on a car manufacturer because they offer lights instead of gauges.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  6. Guages are better than just lights; if some drivers can understand a guage they shouldn't drive. I had a family member drive 50 miles with a guage at the top of the red zone and runined the engine; when I asked why she didn't stop she said she didn't want to be late to a dinner with her girlfriends. I have driven stickshift cars without a tach but a temp guage is vital.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  7. "For the truth here, look at nearly any vehicle owner's manual; most advise against not revving an engine too high when cold, for good reason." If they advise AGAINST NOT REVVING, then they advise FOR REVVING.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  8. Quit giving these manuf. a pass on every dumb move they make to "simplify." "Nothing to do with cost cutting?" you must really be naive. Don't need instrumentation? Of course not, when 50% of drivers don't pay attention anyway.
    Let's just keep dumbing it down folks. Next thing the dash will look like my old Cushman's.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  9. @al, I don't think this is such a dumb move from the manufacturer's perspective. The real money saved here is going to be through fewer major engine warranty claims (from over-revving when cold), not from the gauge itself.
    @alan, Agreed. As cars age, you can save repair expenses and unexpected failures by watching for temp-gauge fluctuations/irregularities.
    and @the cajun, Thanks for the catch.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  10. I have a 20 year Mazda miata. Great car with a strong enthusiast community. Miata's of this vintage have motors that last about forever, unless you overheat them. At this vintage, hoses, radiators, thermostats can go bad silently, registering a problem only on the temp gauge. The factory temp gauge isn't great because it doesn't show warm until there is a serious overheat condition, but at least there is a gauge so people can turn off the car before blowing the headgasket and warping the head. In a nutshell, removing temp gauges won't matter much when the cars are new, but when the cars are older, the tools won't be there to prevent disaster.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  11. I want to buy an auto that has a full set of gages .......does anyone know which sedan and truck that has a full set of gages?
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  12. Replacing gauges with light indicators is a good idea although a combination would have been better. Most drivers overlook their conventional temp gauges and an extended overheat leads to many cylinder head and engine overhauls in the shops.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  13. Oil and water temperature gauges are missing since some time but my new car doesn't have a dipstick so I have to trust the info system of the car and that is just resetting my mindset on wanting to check oil levels myself every 6000 miles.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  14. My 2005 Prius lacks the temperature gauge and has no such light. This is only one of several dash-related annoyances. (It lacks indication of 10ths of a mile. The bar system for gas leaves room for guesswork and doesn't even register gas refills if less than 3 gallons.)
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  15. Bengt- Care to comment on thinner oils placing engines under higher stress upon cold-start? This is indeed counter-intuitive. Most informed enthusiasts I know think thin oils are better on cold start because they reach the valve-train sooner. What is the mechanism of stress? Where did this information come from?
    -Thanks
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  16. Thinner oils cause more engine stress under cold start? Say what?
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  17. "zero-weight"
    Ugh. It's not "zero-weight".
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  18. Any chance you can expand on the below paragraph?
    "And with the thinner oils being introduced this year and over the next several model years—allowing better fuel economy and good high-heat protection—they counterintuitively place engines under higher stress in cold starts."
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

 

Have an opinion? Join the conversation!

Advertisement
Try My Showroom
Save cars, write notes, and comparison shop with hi-res photos.
Add your first car
Advertisement
Take Us With You!
   
Related Used Listings
Browse used listings in your area
Advertisement

More From High Gear Media


 
 
© 2014 The Car Connection. All Rights Reserved. The Car Connection is published by High Gear Media. Stock photography by Homestar, LLC. Send us feedback.