Every time you stare at the instrument panel, you always noticed the speedometer first. Admit it – you do! Then, you stare at the gas gauge. After all, you need to know when to add more fuel to your car.
There is another dial that you may have noticed; one that really tells how your engine is doing. It may also clue you in on which gear you might be in. It’s a big one – you cannot ignore it! It goes from 0 to 7, 8 or 9. However, you determine the number of Revolutions per Minute by multiplying that number by 1000. You may have wondered your car has such a dial and what it really does.
May we re-introduce you to the tachometer?
If you drive an automatic, you may have ignored the tachometer. When driving a manual, it becomes the most essential gauge you will need. You use it as a guide to shift through the gears. You get to see where the engine is at its happiest and to monitor downshifts when you are slowing down.
Those numbers actually do mean something. Revolutions per minute, as known as RPM, is the measure of engine speed based on how fast the crankshaft turns sending the pistons through each cylinder head. RPM is monitored through the throttle and the transmission, based on which gear it is in.
When driving a manual, the tachometer becomes the most essential tool to work with. Every time you shift – up or down – the tachometer becomes your guide towards making the next shift, while monitoring the health of the engine itself. You can always check the speedometer to make sure you are going at the right speed for the gear you need to be in, but the tachometer will always tell you exactly where you need to be, before you engage the clutch and shift.
On the tachometer, you will notice a red marking after a certain RPM. That is called the red line. That is the limit where you cannot rev the engine further. If the engine revs further than that point, your engine’s life will be shortened.
However, there is a saving grace – the electronic rev limiter. If you actually hit the red line, the limiter will bring the engine back down below it. You will feel a buck, but that’s about it. It is the device keeping the engine from absolute failure. As a pro tip, if you revving close to the red line, you need to always make a shift before you hit it.
Tachometers are standard equipment on the all Volkswagen models – in both manual and automatic. When you get one with a manual transmission, you get to use it to its full capabilities. Consider it your friend when you work the clutch and the shifter to sheer delight.