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Oil Temperature Gauge in Centre Pod

Vehicle:
1995 Mitsubishi FTO GPX

Work Performed By:
Owner &
Crockenberg Motors - RalliArt Garage in Welshpool

Date:
August 2001

Article by:
RichardH


Description

First thing in the morning, the FTO "coolant temperature" gauge takes less than two minutes to reach its normal position. This is no good at indicating when the engine is fully warmed up, and if I'm going to be taking it to 8000rpm that is one piece of information I really should know! What I needed was some way to get hold of the oil temperature.

There was a genuine Mitsubishi oil temp gauge available as a factory option for the FTO. However, finding a vehicle fitted with one is quite unusual. I approached Northshore Mitsubishi in Sydney for an indicative price... They quoted me $691 for a new unit!

In fact, I was so dumbfounded I rang again a month later to see if the quoted price was a mistake. It seems that it was - they revised this to $800! These oil gauges appreciate better than any car I've heard of...


A hunt through the offerings of many different manufacturers finally yielded a result - Siemens VDO Automotive had an oil temperature gauge that closely matched the standard FTO instrumentation. When placed side-by-side with the voltmeter, the small logo was the only real hint that it was an aftermarket item.

It wasn't a perfect match when compared to the factory FTO oil gauge, of course, but the five or six hundred dollars left in my pocket would probably make up for that!

It turned out that Repco carried the VDO range of gauges, so it was straightforward to track down a store with one in stock. It was a little more challenging finding the best sender unit, but the gauge needed to be fitted before any wiring up occurred!

My wife complained quite a bit when I explained that the new gauge was going to replace that dodgy old clock in the centre gauge cluster - it seemed she liked the clock! I took on board her reasoned comments, and said I would think about it. I then snuck out and proceeded to rip out the clock and throw it into an old shoebox in the back room. If she wanted it back in the car, she'd have to find it first!

Besides, the stereo head unit displayed the time. So did her mobile phone. And we both had watches. It was a dumb clock anyway...

With that issue resolved, the process of building the new gauge mounting began.

This was no small task. A good deal of plastic card was used to build a backing plate, fittings and other bits. The factory oil gauge apparently had an inner glass cover behind the curvy pod plastic, and this was reproduced using some good quality clear transparency.

The prize for the most bizarre component would have to go to the outer lip of a vitamin pill container lid. It just happened to be exactly the same diameter as the outside of the gauge unit, and compressed very nicely between the front lip and the rear screw-on mount.



The gauge components were assembled and fastened to the centre pod unit. It was a perfect fit...



Following the gauge fitment, I needed to fit a suitable VDO electrical sender unit. These were best obtained direct from AISAT Instruments right here in Welshpool, Perth.

To begin with, I tried a sender unit that replaced the standard oil dipstick - a small probe at the bottom of the dipstick read the oil temperature, and you simply connected a sender wire to the plug at the top end.

Unfortunately, this was less than satisfactory. Indeed, it caused quite a bit of hassle. A tiny section of chrome metal flaked off the bottom of the sender dipstick on its first insertion down to the sump - not a good thing to have floating around in the engine oil!

This unit was promptly returned, and exchanged for a "proper" solution - a screw-in sump plug sender. I'm pleased to say that AISAT Instruments handled this issue very well, and were focused on getting the problem resolved to my satisfaction.

Crockenberg Motors arranged to have the sump removed and a separate mounting position welded in place. This meant the sender would never need to be unscrewed again (unlike the FTO original sender unit, which was in fact a fancy sump plug with wires). Mal Crockenberg also found the aforementioned chrome flake and extracted it from the oil pickup filter!

As it was not far from the exhaust, the sender wiring was protected from extreme temperatures with some heat-resistant sheathing from Cypher Industries in O'Connor.

Once wired up, the gauge worked perfectly. I was surprised by the length of time actually taken driving before the oil reached normal operating temperature - up to 15 minutes in the morning. I am now always aware of the oil temp before choosing to plant that right foot. This will certainly pay dividends in terms of engine longevity!

Miscellaneous Specifications

The following may be of assistance to other FTO owners. While I have endeavoured to ensure the accuracy of all information here, I take no responsibility for consequences of using it.

Gauge
VDO Oil Temp Gauge, 52mm, Electrical type, 150 degrees C
Repco Part No. 310 010 015
VDO Part No. 999 161 010


Sender Unit
VDO Sump Plug Electrical Sender Unit, 1/2UNF, 150 degrees C
AISAT Instruments Part No. V320 016


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