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Thread: Speedometer/odometer questions

  1. #1
    Dick D Guest

    Default Speedometer/odometer questions

    On my 1986 Vanagon, the numbers on the odometer slipped back from the windows and the device stopped registering miles. Investigation showed the shaft, the number barrels are on, had pulled out of the plastic case on the non-gear end. Putting back in permitted the odometer to work properly for 11.1 miles. Has anyone a cure or experience with this problem, short of buying a new speedometer head?

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  3. #2
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    VW instruments are made by VDO. You can have the speedometer rebuilt. Although there are independents, I'd send it straight to VDO's US headquarters:

    VDO/Yazaki
    PO Box 2898
    980 Brooke Rd
    Winchester VA 22601
    703-665-0100

    They have even reset the odometer ahead for me to compensate for "down time" mileage and get me back to original.

    Update: VDO has quit servicing their instruments and have gone with independent sub-contractors. One is given below. If anyone has experience with some of the others, please post.
    Last edited by Capt. Mike; 02-22-2008 at 07:46 PM. Reason: Update

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    Transferred from another post to keep subjects separate.

    filmcan

    Junior Member posted 09-21-2000 06:08 PM

    By the way... my speedometer always shows 10 MPH fast. I've clocked with several other cars. No matter what speed, it always shows 10 MPH faster than actual. This includes being parked (notice that the speedo starts at 10 MPH!). Do you think this could be true for all early vanagons? The Bentley manual says something about the speedo adjusted to always show actual speed or higher. In other words, I drive 60MPH on the Fwy, and my speedo says 70MPH.
    Last edited by Capt. Mike; 05-29-2008 at 05:34 AM.

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    Amongst the things I had to do in my former life was be federally certified for radar. That evolved into my having a federal license for 'police' radar and my own radar gun. It makes a dandy speedometer calibrating tool. And provides some interesting surprises.

    VDO makes VW's speedometers and I find them "acceptably" accurate, usually off to the high side so speed is a little less than indicated -- PRESUMING STANDARD TIRES! My current Vanagon runs about 5% fast or 3 MPH at 60; my folks reads a fairly steady 2 MPH fast at all speeds. That has been pretty consistent across a wide variety of my & friend's VW VDO's.

    Regarding speedometers, the speed and distance (odometer function) are NOT inter-connected. One can be dead on, the other way off.

    Federal specs have varied but most speedometers run high. The last set I saw were +/- 3 MPH. There was a period when the specs were -1/+3, so most manufacturers fudged toward the plus side. I think they still do -- maybe they don't want you blaming them for a speeding ticket.

    However, my old Porsche, also VDO, pushes 10% fast. The wife's car (VDO) is dead on. My Dodge pickup starts out 3 MPH fast at 20, but has faded to near dead-on at 70 MPH. Don't presume! Get it tested.

    Unless you've got a cop for a buddy, check your phone books. Most major cities have a shop that can calibrate speedometers. I calibrate after every set of tires. Then, with a fresh calibration, check your RPMs at various speed. Any sudden deviation means one or the other is malfunctioning.

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    I've seen a tip posted elsewhere that warns NOT to reset the trip odometer while the vehicle is being driven. It makes sense. The odometer is basically a set of gears driven by a rotating cable and we don't want to be moving the gears while they're turning, do we?
    Last edited by Capt. Mike; 05-29-2008 at 05:35 AM.

  7. #6
    Dick D Guest

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    Originally posted by Capt. Mike:
    VW instruments are made by VDO. You can have the speedometer rebuilt. Although there are independents, I'd send it straight to VDO's US headquarters

    Sorry to be so long in responding, no computer there for a while. I contacted VDO and was informed, if I sent the odometer they could probably fix it, the first guess was it would cost about $125. Perhaps, I forgot to mention, I'm on a small fixed income, and fix'n to keep as much of it as I can. A new DIY effort with a few judicious drops of "J-B Weld" have resolved the problem, now for 2411miles. Now, if I could just find an equally efficacious and inexpensive cure for the leaking head gaskets on my 86 Vanagon, I'd be a much happier man.
    Last edited by Capt. Mike; 02-22-2008 at 07:43 PM. Reason: Formatting error

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    '86 Westy - California

    I've had a problem over the past year with the speedometer, only on long trips of several hundred miles or so. The speedometer just stops working, while the odometer keeps right on going. Aren't they both connected via the speedometer cable to the left front wheel gear mechanism? Sometimes after wiggling the speedometer cable next to the wheel it starts up again, sometimes not. Sometimes it starts up by itself while driving along, sometimes it stops all of a sudden; the odometer is never affected. Driving around town for months at a time, it never falters; only on long trips. I would just replace the speedometer cable (both halves), but I'm afraid the problem is in the speedometer gauge itself. The Bentley doesn't address this, it just describes how to replace the cable. Any thoughts?

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    Inside the speedo head, the cable runs the odomoter with a pure mechanical connection. However the speedometer is run by an electric signal generated by turning speedometer cable. i.e. it generates a magnetic signal to deflect the meter.

    The two, other than using the same cable, are independent of each other. They can even have different and opposite errors.

    If the problem is in the head I suggest professional service. There are a couple that do VDO, but I'd send it direct to VDO's VA headquarters for rebuild. Last info I had was:

    VDO/Yazaki
    PO Box 2898
    980 Brooke Rd
    Winchester VA 22601
    703-665-0100

    Before you do, you can open the instrument pod by removing the shroud, disconnect the speedometer cable, and watch it turn while driving a short distance. If it turns smoothly, it's probably the head.

    You can get rebuilt heads from VW, too, but they will always be reset to zero. VDO will keep your mileage, or even advance it some to compensate for missing miles while broken. Plus considerble cheaper to fix yours than get a VW rebuilt.

    2/22/08 Update: VDO has quit servicing instruments in the US and now has contract service centers.
    Last edited by Capt. Mike; 02-22-2008 at 07:44 PM. Reason: Update

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    Copied in from post that ran across topics.

    dajabr Member # 774 posted 05-05-2001 01:21 PM

    84 westy... Odometer frozen but speedo works,

    Yanked out the gauge assembly and found plastic clip holding power from the printed circuit wasn't connecting to the back of the clock fully, missed on first inspection, hence the innacurate time. Also found that once this power was stably connected, the radiator fan began to engage at a lower temp than before, so am getting closer to running normal temp, though red temp light continues to blink incessantly.

    Found the speedo cable reatining clip had been snapped, so hoped getting it good and jammed in there might wake up the odometer. No such luck. Since speedo still works next step is to crack open the gauge and see what fell loose, have new gauge waiting just in case somebody reset trip odometer while moving.

    The gear wheel that turns the odo numbers pulled itself out of the whole assembly just enough to no longer be moved by the screw turned by the speedo cable. Simply Poked it back in and now works fine, but suppose it will eventually slip out of place again. On the other side of this pin holding that wheel, the same pin that runs through the counter cogs, I looked for evidence of a retaining clip to hold the pin in place, but doesn't appear to have ever been one. Will see how it turns out. (Inadvertent pun)

  11. #10
    Dick D Guest

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    The gear wheel that turns the odo numbers pulled itself out of the whole assembly just enough to no longer be moved by the screw turned by the speedo cable. Simply Poked it back in and now works fine, but suppose it will eventually slip out of place again. On the other side of this pin holding that wheel, the same pin that runs through the counter cogs, I looked for evidence of a retaining clip to hold the pin in place, but doesn't appear to have ever been one. Will see how it turns out. (Inadvertent pun)[/QB][/QUOTE]

    Yeah, that sounds like exactly what happened with my odometer. Seems like there ought to be a retaining clip of some sort, doesn't there? I used the epoxy JB Weld to hold the end and it worked for a few thousand miles. Finally, ended up taking the unit to Commercial Speedometer Service in West Sacramento, California. They fixed the problem, one day turn around and a year's guarantee for $110. They added a thousand miles to make up for the down time. Good luck!

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