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VDO auto-calibrating speedometer and gauges

Style: Cockpit Royale

Information, it’s what we all crave, but the information must be accurate. If you have lifted your 4wd vehicle, added larger tires, or changed your differential gears then you know that the information that your stock speedometer is providing you is not accurate. VDO has now found a permanent cure for your inaccurate speedometer. Meet the VDO digital, programmable speedometer. This incredible new speedometer is self-calibrating and only requires a few inputs from the driver to provide you the accurate data you need to keep the neighborhood police officers from stopping you. The VDO speedometer uses a new sending unit that replaces the cable-activated sender on many older Jeeps and 4-wheel drives. The new sender mounts to the existing hole in your transfer case or transmission and instead of spinning the cable to turn the speedometer head, it sends a digital signal to the computerized speedometer and calculates your speed. While all this technology sounds confusing, it is a very simple installation. Once you have removed the stock speedometer cable, install the new sender, and route the cable to the back of the new VDO speedometer. The new speedometer needs only a 12-volt ignition source, a constant 12-volt signal, and a ground. The in dash installation of the speedometer is a personal choice, we chose to build a new aluminum dash for our Jeep CJ and replace all of the old factory gauges with new VDO units. To program the new speedometer, you must find a road that has measured mile markings. Once this is done you simply hold down the button on the front of the unit, select the calibration mode, and drive to the beginning of your measured mile and press it again. Once you have completed your one-mile drive, press the button again, stop the vehicle and let the speedometer calibrate itself. The digital display will flash a series of numbers, and then it will set itself to zero and the speedometer will self-test. That’s it! You now have a completely accurate speedometer, and should you choose to change gear ratios, or tire sizes later, simply go back to your mile and calibrate it again. It’s that simple.

Along with our digital speedometer, VDO also provided us with all of the other gauges we needed to keep tabs on our Jeeps vital signs. These included, Tachometer, Water temperature, Voltage, Oil pressure, Fuel, and what the heck, we may as well know what time it is, so we ordered up a clock too. We ordered the VDO Cockpit Royale series gauges with white faces and antique script numerals for our project Jeep and the Vision series gauges for our project Land Cruiser. Both types of gauges are well illuminated and easily read at a glance. While we love the nostalgic look of the Cockpit Royale gauges in the Jeep, the Vision series gauges provide an illuminated pointer for more clear identification at night. VDO includes new sending units with all of the gauges. Installation is simple, replace the existing sending unit for each function with the new VDO unit, run the sending wire to each gauge, provide a 12 volt source, a ground, and wire the light in each gauge. It sounds simple, but wiring an entire Jeep dash took us about 10 hours. If you want the most accurate information about the vitals of your 4×4 then go to your nearest VDO dealer and check out all of the gauges that they have to offer.


Style: Vision Series

If classic styling isn’t quite your flavor, VDO also makes at least 9 different styles of gauge faces, along with kits, dash panels, switches and so much more. For our ’74 Land Cruiser, we wanted something that was easy to see and read in both bright light and pitch black driving situations. VDO recommended their line of Vision Series gauges, including their new auto- calibrating speedometer. While they don’t make a sending unit for Land Cruiser transfer cases, we were determined to make it work. A trip to a local machine shop proved fruitful, as they fabricated a new sending unit shaft that would fit both the Land Cruiser T-Case and the hall-effect sending unit provided by VDO. NOTE: VDO will not warranty their sending units if they are altered, so if you modify your gauges or sending units, you’re on your own. VDO supplied us with a programmable tachometer, an auto-calibrating speedometer, a transmission temperature gauge, a fuel gauge, a water temperature gauge, a voltmeter and an oil pressure gauge. Although they don’t make a direct replacement sending unit for the Land Cruiser gas tank sending unit, a few hours of tinkering and we were able to combine the top half (cap and seal) of the OEM sending unit with the bottom half of the new VDO sending unit to make it work perfectly. Again, VDO won’t warranty their gauges or sending units if modified.

Using fiber-optic technology, VDO has illuminated the instrument’s pointer for an unmatched level of readability. All Vision instruments feature VDO’s Trioptic™ through-dial lighting technology for superb nighttime illumination. Further, direct sunlight doesn’t throw a bad reflection or minimize the ability to read the gauge face or dial. All VDO gauges provide minimal to no gauge fluctuation due to vibration or jouncing.


VDO North America
188 Brooke Road
Winchester, VA 22603
Email: performance@vdo.com
Web Site: http://www.vdona.com/aftermarket/aftermarket.html


Description Notes Rating
Ease of Install The wiring of each gauge is pretty standard, but the mounting will vary from vehicle to vehicle. You may have to fabricate a gauge panel or an entire new dash.
Ease of Use Clear and easy to read and great illumination at night.
Performance None of our gauges has failed us, although we are not always happy with the information they provide!
Durability Water, mud, dust and countless beverage spills have yet to cause a failure.
Appearance Both the Vision and the Cockpit Royale series look great and really compliment each dash or our project vehicle.
Drivability N/A N/A
Comfort N/A N/A
Price in comparison to related products The competitor’s products are all in the same price range, but don’t offer as many different styles.
Tools Required Wire strippers, crimpers, MANY various connectors, a good multimeter, a drill, a hole saw, a soldering iron, and various hand tools
Editors Notes Our OEM gauges were antiquated, unreliable, didn’t provide enough information and we didn’t really trust their accuracy, so the VDO accurate gauges were a great addition. Additionally, their great looks compliment our dashboards…JC & RW

About Rick Webster

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