Skip to main content

2014 Mazda5 Sport: Tom's Hardware's Project Car Update

More Information: ScanGaugeE Trip Computer

OBD-II is a wonderful connector capable of conveying detailed diagnostic information. Every car sold in the U.S. since 1996 is OBD-II-compliant and typically has the requisite interface under the driver's side dash. There are plenty of devices that plug into OBD-II, including performance timers, detailed trip computers, fuel economy readouts and digital gauges.

Since our project car is a base model with a simple trip meter display, digital gas gauge, speedometer and tachometer, the driver really doesn't get very much information. There isn’t even an instant or average miles-per-gallon indicator; I had to manually calculate fuel economy the old fashioned way at every gas station.

Some cutting required

There’s also a spot on the driver’s side with four blank switch plates, reserved for the manual leveling HID headlights on the Grand Touring trim level and power sliding doors on international versions. Lucky for us, we found a device from Linear Logic that fits this void perfectly.

Meet the ScanGaugeE, an OBD-II device that helps with economical driving. It promises to aid in fuel conservation by reporting real-time consumption and CO2 output. Think of it as a driving coach or guilt meter.

The trip computer provides detailed information about your current drive; a summary of the day's trips, the previous day, and the tank's trip with average fuel economy; fuel used; maximum coolant temperature; trip distance; maximum engine RPM; elapsed time; maximum speed; average speed; fuel costs and CO2 production. There’s even a detailed display that shows how much fuel, distance or time remains in your tank.

You get a lot of data that'd certainly help you drive more conservatively, sure. But that’s not why I chose the ScanGaugeE. I'm more focused on its digital gauge display function.

Modern cars lose the basic battery voltage and coolant temperature gauges that were standard a decade ago. As an enthusiast, I prefer to know those details though, just as a PC enthusiast wants to know how hot his or her CPU is running. The ScanGaugeE presents this information and more, including fuel system loop status, manifold pressure, engine RPM, throttle position data, intake air temperature, ignition timing, engine load and carbon dioxide output in an easy-to-read way. If you have a CEL, the ScanGaugeE reads it, too.

We did have to cut a little bit of plastic in the factory switch plate housing before popping the ScanGaugeE into place. Once installed, though, we were able to change the display lighting color to match the rest of the interior and select our preferred output information.

I like the ScanGaugeE for what it can do, though you are tasked with entering fuel capacity and cost at each fill up for helpful driving coaching. More performance-minded enthusiasts may prefer the ScanGauge II, which adds performance timers. That product is too wide for our available housing, unfortunately.