ScanGaugeII - initial impressions (long)

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Posted by wws ( on 01:36:30 02/13/08

My new ScanGaugeII arrived today! I ordered it from MGT Motorsports, along with their 'BlendMount' kit. The BlendMount clamps to the mirror and allows the ScanGauge to be positioned in the space between the headliner and the mirror. (Wires running through the headliner, and down the A-pillar.)

In order to quickly get it working, I just put a bit of velcro on the bottom of the SGII, and stuck it on the velcro strip on my dash that I usually use for the GPS unit. Plugged it into the OBDII connector and off it went!

One weird thing was immediately evident - my (factory) radio reset itself - so I had to reset the time... Fortunately the station presets were not affected. Not sure why this happens - the stereo is not connected to the ECM. But since the SGII is positioned within an inch or two of the radio, it is possible there is some sort of EMI between them. I will try keeping them separated to see if that has any effect.

The SGII turns itself on when the engine turns on, and turns itself off 12 seconds after the engine is turned off. It automatically detects which variant of OBDII is in use (mine is called VPW.) Setting it up takes a minute or two. Just enter the engine size, gas tank size, and a few other preferences (liters vs gallons, miles vs kilometers, background lighting color, etc.) And yes, Ben, you can adjust the speed calibration to compensate for different wheel sizes.

There are about a dozen different options for gauge readouts. Any four can be displayed simultaneously. By default it shows MPG, MPH, RPM, and coolant temp. There is a button for each of the four readouts. By pressing one of the buttons, the associated readout cycles through the dozen (or more) options.

The MPG function is one that all of us SUVers are interested in. It works just like the 'built in' one in my wifes Rendevous. You can easily see how rewarding it is to let the tranny shift into as high a gear as possible as soon as possible. Getting from 2nd gear into 3rd moves you from single digit MPGs to double digits. When it shifts into OD, it gives another couple of MPG. Cruising at 65, with my 3.42 axle ratio, shows about 18 MPG - with spurts as high as low 20s when going down slight declines. The gallons/hour option shows that idling in neutral, with A/C off, burns about 0.6 gallons/hour. Coasting downhill gives about 50 MPG (the Rendevous will max out at 99.9 under similar circumstances.)

Almost all of the display options worked on my '96 (which has a very early OBDII system.) The only one that did not work was the fuel pressure (FPR) option. The owners manual states that very few vehicles support this option.

The SGII also has a scan feature that allows looking for diagnostic codes. No codes were present in my truck. But if one did appear while the SGII was hooked up, there is a way to obtain not only the code, but also some of the engine data that occured at the same time. There is also an option to clear codes.

There is a whole trip computer capability that I have not played with yet. It keeps a host of data (avg MPG, time, distance, max speed, etc) for 4 different time intervals: current trip, trip since fillup, todays trip, and yesterdays trip.

Last, there is a 'xgauge' feature. This allows the entry of codes to obtain vehicle-specific data from the ECM. There is room for up to 25 of these xgauges. You enter a transmit code, a couple of receive codes, and a math code (to do scaling and so on), in hex, and the new gauge will be in the cycle of gauges for display - just like the default ones. The codes are available from the SGII website. I tried codes for horsepower, torque, and tranny temp. Only the horsepower readout worked in my '96 - and it seems to have a scaling problem. (90 horsepower at idle??? Methinks there is a factor of 16 that needs to be right-shifted out...)

I sent the ScanGauge folks some email asking them about the radio problem and the xgauge problems. Will report back when they answer.

All in all, it is a pretty nifty device.

Oh yeah - the BlendMount. It is made out of aluminum, painted black, and seems very nicely constructed. The kit even includes a cat-5 extension cable - making it easy to move the SGII, with its cable, to a different vehicle.

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