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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is not aimed at 4WDers who use their vehicle serious. But at the average AWD/4WD owner who probably never takes their vehicle offroad. What on earth do you use a rev-counter for ? This was prompted by my wifes RAV4 that has a tachometer mounted in the central position on the front panel. The speedo is mounted off to the left where the steering wheel partly obscures it. My wife will never use the tacho but she always uses the speedo to know what speed she is doing. So since the speedo is the most useful of her instruments why on earth did Toyota place it off to the left ? For what reason did they think that the tacho was more important ?
This is a serious question and it has been bugging me for some time.
Even on my GV I don't use the tacho and yet there one is. I would much rather have the tacho out and it replaced by a transmission temp gauge, an oil pressure gauge, and an oil temp gauge. Even a more accurate water temp gauge.
 
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I'd like all those gauges as well but the tachometer is useful regarding shift points on a manual and just to let me know the engine is idling so I don't try to start it again. You'd have to ask Toyota about their placement choices.

Trans temp gauge on my last GV automatic.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Take your point re shifting on a manual box. But not relevant to 98% of AWD/4WD owners since they are all autos. And I have had a few high powered cars but still never used the tacho because when you are serious re acceleration I prefer to watch the road and instinctively know when to shift. There should be no need to be concerned re acceleration in a 4WD in terms of what revs you are doing. Actually you did point out one use for a tacho and that is to know whether your engine is already running. My GV is so quiet that I have caught myself looking at the tacho just to make sure the needle is above zero. I think Toyota screwed up re gauge positioning and couldn't be bothered to re-engineer the moulds. Just thought of another gauge I would like and that is to know what speed all 4 wheels are doing - this might be quite useful.
 

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I never even look at it. If the car let's you go past redline you got other problems. Both manual and automatics have rev limiters and if you hit the rev limiter and hold it there maybe you should have passed on that last drink.
 

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I'm curious, what makes you feel that 98% of AWD/4WD are all autos - there are five vehicles in my driveway this morning - four are AWD/4WD, and three of the four have manual transmissions.

Back to your question however - do we actually need/use the tachometer - one of the four is a turbo diesel Nissan with a six speed manual transmission, it's very easy to red line that engine in the lower gears - being a diesel, the redline is quite low, being a turbo diesel, boost comes up and it'll be at the red line almost faster than you can blink, fortunately it does have a rev-limiter - this has not been a problem for me with other turbo diesels, but this one accelerates like the proverbial bat out of hell if you keep it on boost - so yes, I do use the tach on that vehicle

Do I use the tach on an automatic transmission vehicle, that answer is yes, a quick glance at the relative positions of the speedo & tach needles lets me know which gear the transmission is in, and also whether or not the torque converter clutch has locked or not - this of course requires familiarity with the vehicle - do I need it, no, do I use it, yes.

One last thing - I learned to drive in an era when, at least in my corner of the world, automatic transmission were rare, and tachometers even more so - I can & do shift by ear, no tach required.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Several interesting points. Around me 98% of AWD/4WD are auto. In fact, although I cannot comment on EVERY vehicle in my city, I know that every vehicle I see is auto. I suspect that almost all new vehicles are autos and in fact I only know of a single manual (owned by someone several years older than me, he's owned it for 30 years, and is an 'old school' driver).
Re use, I own a 300zx twin turbo, auto that is a tad beyond standard. It accelerates like 3 bats out of hell. In a straight line with no traffic you might use the tacho, on windy roads when pushing it a bit (well actually quite a lot) you have two options - look at the tacho or look where you are going - no time for both. My wifes RAV4 has 4 gears, the GV has 5 both autos, neither of us use the tacho (other than in my case the odd time to see if the engine is even running - and that function could have been replaced by a red light I am sure). Tachos are anachronisms especially on AWDs.
I think that older drivers bought up on manuals might be more used to using a tacho (although I don't). Later engines with 8/9 speed gearboxes probably use the light illuminating which gear you are in on the console. They probably still have a tacho but I bet that is more a marketing exercise. I think I have probably answered my own question in the original post.
Your last sentence describes me exactly
 

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I suspect that almost all new vehicles are autos
There's a four month old 2021 Jimny listed in my signature - five forward manual transmission, my previous purchase was the Navara mentioned in an earlier post, it's a 2019, six forward manual. Manual transmissions are alive & well, they may not be popular in your neck of the woods, but they're still being made.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Maybe I should have been more careful. The Jimny and Navara are 4WD vehicles. I was referring to most AWD SUVs. Which still come with tachos for some reason. And weirdly my wifes RAV4 is described as being 4WD (sticker on it) but no concessions to 4WD within the vehicle.
 

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As long as cars continue to be equipped with internal combustion engines all but the cheapest models will continue to be equipped with tachometers, if only due to market expectations. If you don't want a tach buy a fully electric car - none of them have that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I can accept market expectations. So it is a marketing exercise. I wonder who sets market expectations other than the marketing department ? Just exactly what happens when you roll up to buy a car ? Does the salesperson say 'note it still has a tacho ?' or does the buyer say 'where's the tacho ?' or is it one of those things that nobody even comments on and it just mysteriously happen ?
If the salesperson said to me you can have either the tacho or these 6 gauges I would go for the gauges. I couldn't actually care less (unless I got asked that last question) but was just curious.
 

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If you “accept market expectations” than there’s hardly any need to say anything else. Cars are not configured on demand for every customer whim.
 

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The truth is that the question/thought surprised me. I think there is no more marketing than one wants to see.
Starting from the fact that the purpose of a car is to move you around.
To move you need to control the speed = speedometer to control its proper functioning.
The purpose of an engine is to turn = rev meter to control its smooth running.

Nor would you need to know when the ESP is working, and yet on the dashboard there is a warning light indicating that it is activated. Monitoring allows you to make decisions.

These are monitoring signals from the machine you are controlling. If they are not useful for you, maybe you still need to learn how to control the machine better 😁
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I am going to generalise a bit here. I am surprised you are surprised. I bet that everybody who uses a tacho on an auto SUV is well over 30 years old. So it is a historic thing. As I said I use a tacho on mine solely to monitor whether the engine is actually turning over, but a running light would do the same job, much cheaper and consuming much less console real estate (I might use it for this perhaps once every 6 months). I realise the temptation to use a tacho because the ECU requires the rev speed for doing things so why not use it for other things. But with limited console space it would, in my opinion, be better to use this space for a gearbox temperature gauge, proper water temp gauge etc than waste it with a not used, not required rev counter. My wife has never used her rev counter and doesn't even know what it is. I maintain that you do not need a rev counter (on an SUV) to move it around and therefore a rev counter is redundant. I originally posted this just in case somebody used a rev counter in a way that I hadn't thought about. I don't accept either, by the way, that it is there to allow a user to set his/her idle speed as I have never seen a user actually do this.
 

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Towing a small caravan on steep uphills in first or second gear manual, I check the revs sometimes and find it's crawled up to around 4,000. Can't change up a gear, so drop my revs back to around 3,000.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Hmmm. Seat of the pants driving would tell you this. And I bet either water or gearbox fluid temperatures rising would give you an even better idea of what the vehicle is doing and whether you need to slow down.
 

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I am going to generalise a bit here. I am surprised you are surprised. I bet that everybody who uses a tacho on an auto SUV is well over 30 years old.
If you had phrased the original question to specify automatic transmission vehicles, rather than AWD/4WD, I would have agreed with you, on an automatic transmission vehicle of recent vintage, a tach is largely unnecessary, and apparently so is the coolant temperature gauge, my most recent acquisition, a manual 2021 Jimny, comes with a tach, a speedo & fuel gauge, but no coolant temp gauge - instead there is an "idiot light", blue for cold, off for normal & red for overheating - I've seen a number of recent Toyotas like this as well.

Now - no offense meant, but would your wife know what a transmission temperature gauge was for - on the family bus, that too is unnecessary - interestingly enough, my first automatic transmission AWD/4WD SUV does have a transmission temperature sensor and an idiot light to go with it, and having fitted a transmission temperature gauge, I can tell you that both gauge & light are largely unnecessary.

Do we really need anything other than a speedometer and a fuel gauge - that's all the classic Volkswagen Beetle and Mini had - do we even need a fuel gauge? My dirt bike didn't have one, it did however, have a tach, along with a speedometer.

I think we can agree, that once we take our vehicles "off pavement" and put ourselves in a position where our lives may become dependent on the proper functioning of the vehicle, we would like to be notified of any disruption to the proper functioning of the vehicle, and that is where additional instrumentation comes in. The 2021 Jimny is the only car I have owned in the last thirty years that has not had additional instrumentation fitted - oil pressure gauge, ammeter or voltmeter, coolant temp gauge (if it didn't originally come with one), transmission temp gauge (if it's an automatic transmission vehicle) - this is not a matter of need, it's a matter of want - the average driver doesn't need or want them - I want them, you want them, and the Jimny will get it's gauges, it just hasn't happened yet.

I don't accept either, by the way, that it is there to allow a user to set his/her idle speed as I have never seen a user actually do this.
You may never have seen this done, but I have actually done it - the first car I owned that had a tach had a carburettor, and I did use it to adjust the idle - I will point however, that vehicles of a more recent vintage, have EFI, and with those, you generally can't set the idle speed, so yes, consider it historic.
 

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Another gauge would probably give me a similar workable indication. But the water temperature gauge doesn't show number gradations so I don't know what's usual. I've looked - the colour bar doesn't shift at all in those hill climbs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Trouble is when you pose a question (unless it is so obvious) it can be hard (read boring) to give all the provisos. In the past on my Forerunner (auto) I have needed a water gauge and temperature gauge. Or at least would have found them useful at odd times. Not the ridiculous go/nogo things prevalently fitted to most vehicles but ones that actually show accurately both temperatures (analog or digital). And I have used a tacho to set idle, on my Morris Minor using the addon Smiths analog gauge. And on my twin turbo 300ZX. The only gauges my wife knows is the speedo and fuel gauge so no disrespect there. The Forerunner ended up with a digital temp water gauge and very useful when labouring up a long steep hill. I flagged, in the end, the auto box because I fitted an aftermarket cooler so decided I didn't need it - then my son drove it over a bank so became a moot point.
"specify automatic transmission vehicles, rather than AWD/4WD, " I made an assumption here since possibly 90% or more SUVs fit this. And I know what ASS means with regards to assumptions. I wanted to know what reasons (if they still knew) manufacturers might make to still include the tacho. I know a few people still use them (see my assumption re age of forum members above).
I end up with marketing depts, don't know, habit, catering to the 10% market (haha on that one) but still no obvious one.
 

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The 2.4 in the GV is pretty rough for a modern engine design but I'm happy to have the tacho available to calibrate my senses as I get used to the speed range of each gear, especially the oddly-high 2nd. I might have preferred the auto but many of the 3-door units here are manual for some reason.
 

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Talking about a car with a manual gearbox: I find it useful to know how many revolutions I am traveling with the engine as it allows me to know what rpm is more relaxed for the engine.
I have also found it useful when overtaking. Being a diesel, the torque dies early in the high rpm zone. Therefore, sometimes it is more convenient to accelerate in the gear in which I am counting on the turbo to start pushing in the optimum zone, obtaining better results than if I downshift and stay in a zone where the turbo no longer gives as much torque.
Some people don't know when to engage the next gear because of the sound of the engine. In fact, we have associated a sound to a gear change, but in reality we are changing to a specific number of rpm. If you can't hear the engine well, reading the RPM is also useful.

In more sporty driving, the RPM counter is more important than the speed counter. It is necessary to think of all users when the indicators are given.

Of course these details may seem too complex for people who just want to monitor whether the engine is on or off.
I understand more and more the need for the autonomous car, certainly for some users it is their solution.
 
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