Verify your tripmeter/odometer accuracy...
September 20, 2012 5:36 AM Subscribe
It's particularly important to check this if you have changed your wheels or tyres to a non-standard size.
At least in the USA, most major highways have mileposts. Note your odometer reading as you pass a milepost, then see what it is several miles later. If you drive, say, ten miles by milepost, and your odometer says you traveled 10.2 miles, it is 2% high.
What you're probably not taking into consideration is that you're moving side to side within the lane which is adding the distance traveled in your vehicle.
GPS receivers are not an exact pinpoint measurement. The receiver can be off by up to 20 meters for a single reading which can throw off your calculations.
As long as you have factory sized tires and gear ratio, your Odometer is more than likely going to be most accurate.
Brown12, I'm not sure what the current policy is but as recently as 10 years ago speedometers in the US were intentionally calibrated at the factory to read low. The theory is (was?) that when you're driving down the highway at a posted speed limit most drivers will add 5-10 mph and feel safe from a speeding ticket so by making the speedometer read high by 3-5 mph at highway speeds the drivers are actually driving at the speed limit or just a couple of mph over but think they're speeding. It was intended to make our highways safer. More recently with the mass usage of GPS and now GPS enabled smart phones this may no longer be the case, but I can tell you that my 2000 Acura and my wife's 2005 Mazda both have speedo errors that show on the high side compared to the GPS.
Back in the 80's I used to as a matter of course get my speedo's calibrated for all my cars and street motorcycles. It cost about $20 and took about 15 minutes at the local shop. In my experience, my domestic vehicles had the greatest error stock, then European cars and the Japanese were the closest.
So that we're clear here, most odometers are driven off the speedometers so speedo error translates directly into odometer error.
That being said, changing tire and wheel size and even tread wear differences in stock tires and wheels can also have an effect as well as slight side to side movements.
The speedos reading high tends to be a characteristic of Japanese OEMs. Most American cars have close to zero discrepancy between speedo and actual speed. I don't know much about Ze Germans so I can't comment there.
Also, OEMs take this into account when calibrating odometers... they are usually very accurate with a stock tire even when the speedo reads high.
Speedos on European vehicles must read high by law, to provide a safety margin between the actual speed limit and the driver's perception of his/her current speed.
However the Odometer is expected to be as accurate as possible. Hence you will find that if you calibrate your odometer correctly, your speed will read high, but if you calibrate your speedo against a GPS speed, your odometer will start to read low.
In the old days the speedo and odo were driven off of a gear on the drive line that spun a cable which read on the dashboard display. Is this no longer the case? I imagine now that with the amount of computer equipment onboard that it could be done electronically.
Again in the 1980's switching my speedo was simply a matter of putting the car on a dyno type machine which was calibrated and removing and replacing the gears until the speedo read the same as the dyno. I wasn't aware of any difference in the odometer, but that may have just been ignorance on my part if it was designed to be spot on while the speedo was reading high.
> ... I imagine now that with the amount of computer equipment onboard that it could be done electronically. ...
Yes, it's electronic. One of the ways that it is done is to have a few magnets on the flywheel, with a sensor nearby detecting the pulses. There are other methods too.
Today it is done almost universally with a speed sensor geared to the transmission output shaft or differential, not the flywheel. Though recently OEMs have begun using wheel speed sensors instead, since those are required for stability control.
Yes, you're right- I meant differential but wrote flywheel LOL. Of course if the magents were on the flywheel, then the displayed speed would not take into account the current gear...
My Suzuki Boulevard is approximately 5% fast per GPS. it's all stock and forums seem to indicate up to 10% is 'normal' for these bikes.
The Suzuki Burgman 400 and 650 maxi scooters are widely agreed to be 10% in error, so when riding at an indicated 60mph the actual road speed is only 54mph. Of course this also means that the odometer over reads so any mileage computations will also be incorrect.
Japanese motorcycles generally read around 5% - 10% faster than you are actually going. I believe that the odometers are much more accurate. For my bike, a Yamaha FZ6, I am reading close to 10% high on the speed but very close (maybe 1%) on the mileage compared to my car.
> Of course this also means that the odometer over reads ...
Not necessarily, that would only be true if the +10% on the speedo was the result of a misadjustment. It is usually done deliberately for legal reasons (which is why the odo is often accurate when the speedo reads high).
Yup - my (I mean Teresa's) speedo reads high, while the odo reads a bit low. I checked it both with road signs on long, undisrupted motorways and google maps, and I'm pretty sure she's a bit too modest about the distance. I think it's something legal again, not to shorten the maintenance period, imposing extra cost on the customers. Or something similar.
Also, it changed a bit when I replaced the old Metzeler Z6s. Now with these Heidenau K73s the odo is even more off. This is why I correct the distance by 1 percent. I'll replace these tires this winter, we'll see how the new ones perform in this respect.