Let’s take a long, hard, happy look at those gauges…

Back in 2006, I bought a 2004 Mach 1 (a “New Edge” hybrid between a cobra and a GT). The prior owner had apparently (unbeknownst to me at the time) used the car for track or drag strip purposes, pushed it a bit too far, then put everything back to stock as much as possible, and traded the car on a truck. When I got the car, everything seemed fine.

In the summer of 2008, though, strange things started happening — I would be driving the car down the road, and “suddenly” the poor thing was overheating. I ended up replacing the radiator and a couple of years later — the entire motor (due to one of the heads leaking coolant into the #8 cylinder). The odd thing though, was the way that the overheat situation would happen.

I’d be driving down the road and notice a lack of power. I’d check the gauges — and everything would appear fine. A couple of miles down the road — suddenly the temp gauge is pegged. No warning other than my gut telling me something was wrong.

Only later did I find out why. Your gauges in your new edge (and from what I’m told, even the new Mustangs) are really idiot lights with needles. The PCM reads data, decides for you whether or not something is important, and otherwise keeps you happy, showing you needles in places where they’re going to give you that nice “feel good” readout that will keep you happy.

Finding this out didn’t make me happy.

I’m about to put a brand new Ford factory crate motor in my car. The motor — it’s worth more than the car. The last thing I want is to feel good about things that I shouldn’t be feeling good about. The gauge cluster in my 2000 GT is the same as the one in my Mach 1 — it’s there to make me feel good, not necessarily tell me the ugly truth. Something’s gotta give here.

I’ve been all over this and there are no reasonable solutions. You can buy a few different after-market gauge cluster replacements — DON’T — that’s my advice. All of the after-market gauge setups, save expensive ones that completely replace the entire setup, are wired to the factory PCM and don’t add any value as far as I’m concerned.

My choices are:

  1. Keep the stock gauge cluster and live in blissful, stupid ignorance of what’s going on under the hood.
  2. Replace the entire gauge cluster with a panel and real gauges.   This is the best solution — but it’s also mad expensive and it means I have to disable the PCM checking the gauge cluster (not sure what happens to the mileage readout as well here).   I’ve toyed with this idea the most, since the car is getting another PCM anyway, it makes sense to simply wipe the entire PCM out of the equation entirely and get a different key setup (say a proximity key system).
  3. Simply augment the existing gauges with real ones that are reading the right values.

I have been toying with option 2 for months.  The best gauge setup I can find on-line is from Speedhut — they make a really nice setup that you can buy on-line, which allows you to choose the color for the backing and night modes.  It’s the sh-t for that matter.   It’s also almost 800 bucks — when you add in the gauge for fuel pressure from auto-meter, the price comes in over a grand for gauges.  And to make it all work I have to bank on being able to disable my stock Mustang PCM and make everything work — during the addition of a new PCM.

Factor in everything — the most sensible thing to do is to go with option 3.

Yeah, I end up with a bunch of gauges in the cockpit — the stock gauges will be there in all their glory (and it’s possible to make them work with the new motor).  The new gauges I’ll add using a gauge pillar pod holder — the oil pressure and fuel pressure will go there.   The engine temp will join the diff temp and transmission temp gauges in the center console.

This is a compromise — and it will leave my new-edge cockpit with a “chock full of gauges” look that I’m not to happy with — but I will know the oil pressure and real temperature of everything important — for around $350-$400, which is way less than the total replacement solution (especially when you factor in a system to do security duty, like a proximity key setup).

At the end of the day, this really matters.  The build is already approaching $14k in parts alone.   It’s going to be complex enough, getting the Coyote working with the old “new edge” harness — complicating matters with a gauge cluster replacement at this juncture is not something I look forward to.

Later I’ll possibly do this change-over when I redo the seats and interior of the car — maybe — if the multiple gauge setup isn’t something I’m happy with by that time.

In the mean time — I’ll be happy — because I’ll know the ugly truth about my car…

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