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Things to Do When You Need a New Voltmeter

A vehicle often spews warning signals that can baffle even the most experienced drivers. Sometimes, a symptom could mean numerous things. Without peeking under the hood of your vehicle, you need to know instantly what is wrong with your ride before a problem becomes worse. An automotive voltmeter can help you with that job. This device lets you know if your car's battery is running out of power by displaying a voltage reading on the dashboard. Since not all vehicles have a voltmeter installed in them, you'll need to fit in one on your own. The task should not take more than an hour to finish.

Required skill level: Intermediate

Needed tools and materials:

  • Voltmeter gauge
  • Electrical wires (red and black)
  • Electrical pliers
  • Ring terminals
  • Self-taping screws
  • Screwdriver bit
  • Drill (optional)
  • Laying the groundwork

    Make sure that your vehicle is on parking mode before you begin the installation. Take out the battery ground cable and set it aside. On your vehicle's dashboard, look for a suitable place where you can install the voltmeter gauge. The location should be somewhere within the driver's perception.

    Mounting the gauge

    Take the housing of the gauge and hold it against the dashboard. Take the voltmeter gauge, place it over the housing, and use the self-tapping screws to keep them in place. The instrument panel should have a couple of mounting holes on it. If it does not, you can use the drill to bore a hole into the dash. Tighten the screws well, so the gauge won't fall off the dash.

    Wiring the voltmeter

    Use the pliers to cut both the red and black electrical wires. The wires should be long enough to reach the alternator from the voltmeter gauge. Strip the insulator from both ends of the wires. Insert the wires into the ring terminal. Run the wires through the firewall and connect them to the alternator. Take out the ground connection retaining bolt and put the ring terminal over it. Put back the bolt and tighten it.

    Testing the voltmeter

    Re-connect the battery ground cable. Turn on the ignition and check if the voltmeter works.

    Voltmeter Articles

    • Equus vs. Auto Meter: Measuring the Better Voltmeter Brand

      We all know that voltmeters will perform exactly the same way. They perform diagnostics on your car's electrical system and warn you of hazards before they happen. So what differentiates one from the other and how can you tell which brand of voltmeter would be a better buy? We compared voltmeters from two leading manufacturers of diagnostic equipment-Equus and Auto Meter-to help you determine which one to choose.

      Product range

      Although both Equus and Auto Meter offer roughly the same number of products-the former with 3 and the latter with 4-the variety of features one product series has over the next is what makes Auto Meter a more viable option. Its Elite Series, dubbed to be its most advanced instruments yet, boasts of programmable options and electronic control. It also offers vehicle-specific voltmeters in a variety of designs and colors. On the other hand, Equus' 3-product inventory is more standard and lacks the additional features that Auto Meter voltmeters have.

      WINNER: Auto Meter


      From its user-programmable control circuit to its peak recall or memory function, Auto Meter's voltmeters offer more useful features than the ones from Equus. This is not to say that Equus voltmeters are outdated. On the contrary, their back-lit illumination and electric air core meter movement help increase performance and accuracy of the gauge. However, in our opinion, the additional features of the Auto Meter voltmeter extend beyond improving the use of the gauge itself. For example, its Elite Series features a control circuit that activates and deactivates vehicle systems, such as lights, fans, pumps, and switches, while the driver is busy keeping his eyes on the road. These kinds of functions are the winning points of the Auto Meter products.

      WINNER: Auto Meter


      With the highly advanced features of the Auto Meter, it comes as no surprise that it is relatively more expensive than Equus voltmeters. Its product's prices can go as high as $150, while Equus' products only sell for $30 to $60.

      WINNER: Equus

      The verdict

      Your choice of voltmeter brand will be highly dependent on how much you are willing to spend to replace or upgrade the part. If price is not an issue, Auto Meter is the obvious choice. Its modern design and additional features make it a good addition to improve your car's drivability and interior look. However, if you're on a budget, an Equus voltmeter is just as good as any replacement.