Home > Uncategorized > But how can I measure Odo now?

But how can I measure Odo now?

I have an automotive habit that I learned from my father: When I fill up the gas tank, I write down the mileage on the trip odometer and divide it by the number of gallons I buy in order to keep track of the car’s fuel efficiency. When I did so yesterday, I was rather shocked to see that the odometer read only 49 miles and I bought slightly over 7 gallons, giving an apparent fuel efficiency of just under 7 MPG. My first thought was that something was seriously wrong with my engine, or something else that affects fuel efficiency. My second thought was that something was seriously wrong with my odometer. A bit more driving confirmed that the odometer was broken — I’d no doubt driven significantly more than 49 miles since the last fill-up, but they hadn’t been registering. Either way, I needed maintenance, so I made an appointment. (Ironically, the dealer is directly across the street from the gas station I used yesterday — I was in the neighborhood after a dentist appointment — but I didn’t think I could just drop in, and I wasn’t sure what the problem was until I drove home and confirmed it was the odometer. So I had to make a second trip halfway across town in as many days. Just as well my fuel efficiency wasn’t the problem.)

So I went to the dealership and told the guy there about the odometer problem. He advised me that fixing it would probably entail removing the whole speedometer assembly and sending it out to someplace that could repair it, which would be cheaper than replacing the whole schmeer, but would leave me carless for a couple of days. But he said he’d check first during the inspection to see if there was just a blown fuse or something. So I occupied myself with my phone (listening to music to drown out the TV, browsing the web, and playing backgammon) while I waited, and hoped that it would turn out to be just a blown fuse. No such luck — he would have to send the part in for repair, and I’d be without a ride for  couple of days if I agreed to do that.

But then it occurred to me… do I really need a working odometer that badly? It’s handy for tracking my fuel efficiency, but I don’t really use it for anything else. I tend to ignore it except when I’m at the gas station. I suppose it could be useful if you know that a given destination is X miles from a certain intersection, say, but that’s kind of superfluous now that I have a smartphone with GPS navigation. And if the dealership or another garage needs to know how many miles are on the car, they can get that info from its onboard computer (it’s still registering the correct mileage, it’s just not getting to the dashboard display). So I decided that, for now, I’d just make do without an odometer.

Still, it may be a minor inconvenience, but it’s a sign of the car’s age (it’s 13 years old now). And it’s my second minor breakdown this year; last winter, the trunk release button on the dashboard stopped working because a cable came loose. Maybe it’s time I started to think about trading it in. I’m just not sure I could afford the expense of buying a car. But maybe if I get one or two of the extra writing gigs I’m hoping to get in the near future, it’ll be worth further consideration.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,
  1. December 19, 2014 at 11:03 am

    Does the speedometer still work? I had this problem on my old car, but the major concern was not knowing for sure how fast I was going.

    • December 19, 2014 at 11:15 am

      The speed- part appears to work fine; it’s just the od- part that’s busted.

  2. twebb2
    December 30, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    Christopher, you *might* have some trouble not getting it fixed… your car insurance factors in how much driving you do for your rates. Also, if you ever plan to sell it, not knowing how many miles it has actually driven could be a problem. On the other hand, it’s 13 years old (my car is 14 years old).

    FYI, check around and find a good car repair place. Dealerships are the worst place to take a car for repairs… they are expensive and will find extra things needing to be fixed.

  3. January 4, 2015 at 9:47 pm

    There are many good online guides, even in PDF from the manufacturer themselves, that show exactly how to replace the part. It can be a pain depending on which car it is, but you can usually get the replacement part from a “Pick and Pull” junkyard. They’ll do the dirty work for you; just call in advance telling them what you need, and they’ll quote you a price and pull it out. Most provide a short-term warranty in case the replacement is broken. With an odometer, you’ll probably have to replace the main dash console completely, again, depending on the car.

    Trust me, minor repairs are an acceptable part of car ownership. Even if you have to replace a wheel hub, the most you’re out is a day of labor over a weekend, and a couple hundred dollars. MUCH better than buying another car. Even a seized engine can usually be replaced by a mechanic for a good price if it’s used. An entire engine replacement costs about the same as 3-4 months of new car payments (and I know…I’ve done it!). Even if the replacement only lasted 5 months, it would be a better financial choice than getting a new car.

  4. January 5, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    Last time I tried scavenging used parts, with my busted side mirror, I couldn’t even figure out how to detach the heater wires without help. My mechanical aptitude isn’t up to replacing a dashboard component. Besides, I live in an apartment building, and I doubt the management would let me do auto repairs in the parking lot.

  1. January 27, 2015 at 3:08 pm

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