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How Aftermarket Gauges Enhance Your Tacoma

How Aftermarket Gauges Enhance Your Tacoma

Here in the United States, it’s easy to find something exotic about the Toyota Tacoma. They are Japanese trucks and we label them as an imported brand. Even though they are known as foreign vehicles there really isn’t that much about them that makes them foreign. They still run on the same fuel as domestic cars and they still have engines and transmissions that operate the same. This means that tapping into these systems with aftermarket gauges is just as important as it is with anything else.

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The proper set of gauges will tell you everything that's happening in your engine bay. This is especially true with modified engines or non-factory forced induction. With engines, ignorance is certainly not bliss. Knowing issues that may pop up in your Tacoma's engine can save you from costly repairs.

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Why Does Your Tacoma Need Aftermarket Gauges?

Gauges certainly make a vehicle’s cabin look cool but they have intended purposes. These units are designed to tap into the vehicles operating system and give you a live reading of exactly what’s happening inside of the engine. They further connect man and machine.

Live Reading: Engine lights and codes are very useful for telling you what is happening inside of the engine. They only tell you where there is an issue and not necessarily how bad it is.

You also don’t get a live reading with engine codes. You will need to run diagnostics to even decipher what is happening.

Gauges tap into the system and give you a live reading of what is happening inside. Engine issues always get worse with time and having gauges can be the difference between the engine surviving an issue or not.

What Gauges are Used for What?

Many gauges are available on the aftermarket, and peering into other people’s Tacomas set up with aftermarket gauges can tell you what you will need. But if you don’t understand what gauges are used for what purpose, you may end up with something you don’t need. Understanding what exactly a gauge is used for is the key to using them to pinpoint any issues.

Oil Pressure: Oil pressure in an engine is critical to its survival. Oil levels and proper tolerances in the engine are what produce oil pressure. If an engine’s oil runs low, the oil passages become contaminated, or a bearing is spun the oil pressure will drop. It’s a surprise that car manufacturers don’t equip all vehicles with oil gauges because of how important they are.

Water Temp: Toyota Tacoma trucks arrive factory equipped with water temperature gauges. However, the factory water temperature gauge doesn’t tell you exactly what the water temperature is.

Aftermarket water temp gauges will give you a numerical reading of the water temperature. This can be useful during troubleshooting as it will tell you exactly how hot the engine may or may not be and whether or not the thermostat is doing its job correctly.

Volts: The telltale signs of a failing alternator are flickering light and a dying battery. A voltmeter taps into the electrical system to tell you how much voltage the alternator is putting out as the vehicle is running.

With aftermarket additions such as lighting, winches, and sound systems this will tell you if the alternator can keep up with the job or if it is too weak.

Trans Temp: Automatic transmissions need to run at a proper operating temperature and can even overheat. A transmission temperature gauge will tell you whether or not the transmission cooler is working or if there is an issue present.

Manual transmissions are subjected to this same weakness, though many manual Tacoma owners can do without this gauge.

Boost: A boost gauge is used to tell how the PSI reading of a supercharger or turbocharger. Without forced induction these gauges are useless. If the engine in your Tacoma is factory equipped with a supercharger or forced induction is added later on this gauge can be useful for dialing in and troubleshooting the supercharger or turbocharger.

Programmable Speedometer: Programmable speedometers are incredibly useful for Tacoma owners, who intend on, or have, changed ring and pinion gears and tire sizes. These speedometers can be calibrated to match the pulse given off by the vehicles speed sensor.

Where to Place Aftermarket Gauges in Your Tacoma

The factory gauge cluster of Tacoma isn’t something that is easily swapped out or added upon. Many owners will be hard pressed to find places to mount aftermarket gauges. The aftermarket does have plenty of options that make mounting aftermarket gauges an easy process with neat and borderline OE grade results.

Gauge Pods: Having gauges mounted in immediate view is the key to being able to quickly identify problem areas and begin troubleshooting right away. The pillar is a great place to mount aftermarket gauges. Gauge pods are designed to mount gauges to the pillar with trim to make them appear as if they were meant to be there from the start.

Clusters: Some builds require only a few aftermarket gauges to be used. Aftermarket clusters with the gauges built in can be purchased. These units tie multiple gauges into one mounting plate. This makes quick work of installing gauges to the dash without having to separate them from one another. 

Mechanical versus Electronic Gauges

As you shop for gauges you will find that there are mechanical and electronic versions of what you are after. The difference is in the sensors and pickups. Both gauge types pick up information from the same areas but will either rely on an electrical sensor or a mechanical pick up for the reading. The difference in installation is that electronic gauges will need some minor wiring. Otherwise very little separates the two.

Custom Faceplates

With aftermarket gauges picked out you might be hard pressed to find colors and layouts that match the factory equipment. The difference in appearance isn’t just an eyesore but can also make for an awkward transition as you look the gauges over.

Aftermarket faceplates can be used to match the factory gauges with a particular theme you are going with.

Fitment includes: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, Pre-Runner, X-Runner, SR, SR-5, TRD-Sport, TRD-Off-Road, Limited, TRD-Pro