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I am considering installing an oil temperature gauge in my 1973 Super Beetle. Can anyone give me any advice based on their knowledge or experience? For example, is the gauge expensive to install and does it really replace the water temperature gauges on most cars? Thanks, Dennis Hatfield
 

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It would tell you the temperature of the oil circulating to lubricate the motor. The hotter the engine, the hotter the oil. If you knew the normal operating temperature it would tell you if engine was running hot. Just like the coolant temperature gage on a water cooled engine.
 

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67 Bug. 2275cc, 10.1:1, 48IDA,Eagle2242Cam,2300Lb clutch, 3.85 diff. Lowered,roll bar, 5pt, swaybars
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I always install oil pressure gauges in my cars as you can tell a lot about what is going on with the oiling system by watching the pressure. To some extent, the pressure reflects the temperature. It is by far a better investment than a temp gauge. I am however installing a temp gauge in my new dash assembly as I now have room for four gauges; oil pressure, oil temp, voltage and cylinder head temp. New gauges for your beetle should be prioritized in that order. I am not sure how much value I will get out of the cylinder head temp gauge but thought I would try one out.

Most temp, fuel and pressure gauges for cars are not very accurate. That is why you typically seem most gauges without detailed numbers and published accuracy specs. When was the last time you saw a water temp gauge with anything other than C at one end and H at the other? While this is true, it does not mean the gauges are useless. Rather, you need to get used to the gauges to get the most info out of them. In the case of the temp gauge, it will read differently depending on where you have the sensor installed. Some "T" it in by the oil light sender. Some install it in the oil sump area. Others use a dip stick with a sender on the end. I suspect the sump area would be the best as long as it sticks well into the oil. You want to measure the oil temp, not the temp of the engine case. Regardless where you install it, get to know what reading to expect. It is possible the temp is actually near the settings on the gauge and if so, all the better.

I would suggest you take the car out on an average summer day and drive it for half an hour on flat ground and get a feel for what an average temp would be. Let's say it reads 190 degrees on the gauge. Then drive an uphill trip in the mountains where the engine should get pretty hot, let's say 240 degrees. Keep these values in mind when driving and you will then know when something is wrong. If the gauge starts climbing above 250 degrees, you probably have a problem and should back off the throttle to let the engine cool down a bit. Don't just pull over and turn it off, ease off the gas or pick another gear, if appropriate. Don't depend on the oil temp light to let you know if the engine is too hot as it might be too late by the time it comes on.
 
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