ScanGauge review

Installed ScanGaugeThe ScanGauge can be installed many places with a Velcro kit. I chose the center of the dash, for easy access to the real time mpg data.

I’ve always been jealous of the miles per gallon readings in friend’s Prius, but my wife and I don’t really drive enough to warrant a new car purchase. So I took a chance on installing the ScanGauge into our ’99 Outback as soon as it was in stock. We’ve had it installed for two weeks now, and it’s totally changed the way we drive. We now compete to see who can get the best mileage stats.

Installed ScanGaugeThe ScanGauge installation is simple. Start by locating the OBD-II port. In this Subaru, it’s on the left-hand side under the steering wheel.

Installation was a breeze, actually so simple that I had to check the manual to make sure I hadn’t missed something. Subaru owners take note: you have to adjust a setting in the menu to prevent the device from falling asleep. My only other quibble is that the real-time gauges don’t give you trip average mpg, which would be a useful stat. If you are a gearhead, you’ll find lots of other data available, as well at error codes useful for diagnosing that pesky check engine light.

The ScanGauge does everything I’ve seen in the Prius, plus shows you fuel cost and trip cost. Many others have reported that a real time mpg gauge dramatically changed their driving style, and I have to say it’s true. A Saturday trip had me at a mellow 60 on the interstate, trying to goose the mpg higher. Perhaps the novelty will wear off, but in the era of $4 gas, the real-time feedback makes you think twice before flooring it.

Installed ScanGaugeThen simply plug in the ScanGauge cable. It is really that simple. I had to check the manual to make sure I wasn’t missing anything, and spent longer arranging the cable than anything else.

We still haven’t gassed up since installing the ScanGauge, so I haven’t yet tested the fuel calibration features, but I’ll report back on the fuel cost features when we do.

Overall I was impressed. A great buy and really effective reminder of your footprint when you have to drive. A note to my father: please stop reading now. Really.

. . .

Ok, so the other thing, between you and me, is the ScanGauge is just about the coolest Father’s Day gift around. It’s nifty, smart and economical, and involves a project that is on the one hand really easy, and on other hand will win points with Mom (for being smart and economical).

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tom

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  1. Howard Fuller - May 28, 2008

    The novelty does NOT wear off. I’ve had an ’04 Prius for almost 100,000 miles now and can confirm the change of lifestyle that comes with an MPG indicator. This is the greatest fuel mileage benefit of the Prius, in fact.

  2. Tony Welsh - May 28, 2008

    I am surprised that the 99 Outback does not have this built in. Our 2005 Legacy GT (same car as Outback but lower; why on earth do people by Outbacks?) does. I also had it on my 1986 SAAB 9000 Turbo, where I once got the mpg to roll over its lijit of 99.9. (Or was it the “miles to go” indicator at 999?) Any way, for me the novelty wore off over 20 years ago.
    Interesting point about this being the most important part of the Prius. So the hybrid power train is a kind of placebo!

  3. lyekka - May 28, 2008

    The ScanGauge II is money well spent.
    there is nothing like having feedback of your driving methods to improve fuel economy.
    I have one in my Prius to monitor the engine and battery. I use the information it provides me with the techniques I am learning at cleanmpg.com to exceed the EPA ratings of my car by 23% to 40% currently.
    I have plans to purchase a second one to use in other vehicles I drive.

  4. Brian Killins - May 29, 2008

    I have an Insight and agree that feedback is important in achieving high mileage, (and I also exceed the EPA ratings). Only a certain segment of drivers would be receptive. In Canada we have $1.35 / litre (and rising) gas prices. Those pickup and SUV drivers that have the pedal to the floor as they fly past probably don’t want to know.
    I do not agree that the hydbrid is a placebo. It takes all factors to achieve good mileage. I like the Insight because it combines: light weight, skinny high pressure tires, aerodynamics, small engine and electric assist, regenerative braking, and monitoring/feedback to assist with economical driving.
    Results: Over last year and 15,000 km, my average gas consumption is 3.1 litres / 100 km = 90 miles per imperial gallon.

  5. Tony Welsh - May 29, 2008

    Do you think the feedback is necessary because people don’t actually know how to drive economically or because of the psychological effect, almost like a video game? During the early 70’s gas shortage in the UK I was able to get very good mileage (cannot remember now the mpg but it was very good) from my BMW 2002 without the aid of a guage. It’s not rocket science.

  6. Jessica - June 7, 2008

    Well for us lazy Americans, it’s just easy to have something that does that for us. I have no idea how many miles to the gallon my car gets, though I can estimate, but for it to calculate the cost as well it would be really helpful.

  7. Shane - July 2, 2008

    Actually, if you have the new ScangGauge II with XGauge, you can now program it to display trip computations as gauges.
    The book has a short section in the back on how to make it work. It looks harder than it is, because the codes to show the trip gauges are only 1 character long.

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