Saturday, August 30, 2008

Electronics Review: ScanGauge II

Several months ago, I installed a ScanGauge II in Mia. The ScanGauge interfaces with a vehicle's electronic control unit through the on-baord diagnostics port. It works with any vehicle with OBD II diagnostics, which includes most made since the late 1990s.

Because the ScanGauge has access to everything the ECU knows, it can display a large number of digital gauges, 4 at a time. These gauges can give the driver very valuable information. I normally have mine set to display water temperature,* intake-air temp, battery voltage, and instantaneous fuel economy, but the device will also display numerous other parameters.

The ScanGauge also offers the ability to read errors, or "codes," thrown by the computer. These codes are responsible for illuminating the mysterious check-engine light. The SGII also lets you clear these codes. I've used this feature precisely twice, both times to clear the same code resulting from transient overheating due to pushing the car hard on the autocross course or track on hot day. Given the moderate price of this device---160 dollars, shipped, from Amazon---I think it paid for itself with just those 2 uses.

Overall, I give the ScanGauge II 8.0 out of 10. I highly recommend it to any car enthusiast or any information junkie.

* The OEM water-temp gauge is only approximate on the late NA Miatas and all the NBs.

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