questionsdoes anyone know why speedometers go so high?

vote-for45vote-against
vote-for11vote-against

I have no idea why. I have a little Mitsubishi pick up and it reads to115 MPH. On a road trip through Nevada I maxed it out so now I know it can go that fast.

If you have ever driven through Nevada I think you would agree 115 MPH isn't fast enough. Talk about barren!

vote-for27vote-against

It's a psychological thing from the manufacturers to the customers ... if the speedo goes up that far, then it purports that the car is more capable; to the customer, it doesn't look like the car is maxed out if you're going "half its top speed".

Don't discount the wagon, BTW. Those bricks can be fast.

vote-for6vote-against

In case you're going down a steep hill with a tail-wind.

vote-for8vote-against

So that if you're REALLY speeding, you can't claim to a cop that you didn't know how fast you were going?

vote-for14vote-against

I used to have (in the long ago time) a 1963 Chrysler New Yorker, with a four barrel carburetor, and 495 cubic inches worth of engine. It was so quiet that even with the hood up, you had to lean close to hear it running...unless you floored it, and all four barrels opened up, in which case, it made a sound that could start the heart of a dead man.

I loved that car. The purchase price was $115.00; yep, that's what I said.

http://bringatrailer.com/2009/12/26/awesome-documentation-1963-chrysler-new-yorker/

{Note the push buttons in the third picture down. The car on this site was similar to mine, but less powerful.}

The speedometer went up to 120. I pegged it more than once, out on those empty SoCal desert freeways, and I'm guess it was somewhere between 130 and 140.

22mpg at 70mph; 8mpg at anything below 60mph. Did I say I loved that car? I did.

vote-for7vote-against

So if you find and use a mushroom on the road

vote-for3vote-against

I found nothing definitive in these articles but the general consensus seems to be marketing.

vote-for4vote-against

@oo7slice: Sorry Double o but I think you underestimate your vehicle, maybe you grew up in a city. There are vast empty voids of space all around where driving sixty on a smooth paved road just doesn't make sense.

If you have a good running vehicle (with good tires) and keep the gas petal floored it will continue to go faster then you though possible. I've had a little Geo Tracker going 95 in the rain. I had a Chevy Corsica pegged way past it's 115 limit on a new 5 mile road. A Jeep Gran Cherokee that we drove from North to South Calif. I jumped in the middle of a 5 car convoy behind a little Euro sports car in the lead and we drove 105 to 120 for over three hours and more till we hit the mountains.

We just bought a mix breed Dodge Journey family wagon with a little 4 cylinder. Lots of power for a little engine. I think it'll break 100... soon.

vote-for5vote-against

My Porsche's speedo goes only slightly higher than the max top speed of the car. I've had people every once in a while say, "hey your speedo only goes to 170, whats the deal? It should go to like 200" The answer being the top speed of the car is like 165.

vote-for4vote-against

@narfcake: I agree, I think it's gotta be a psychological thing from the manufacturers.

@wootfertexas: I agree with you somewhat. I grew up in the suburbs of a small town so we have our stretches that are known for testing out the limits of vehicles (although I am very curious with the Volvo). I probably am underestimating the abilities of my current cars and I have never tried to top them out. However, when I was in high school and was invincible, I tried with a Honda Civic. No the Civic was not in its prime, but it wasn't in its grave either. It reached 105 down a hill and wouldn't go any faster. I think it would have gone faster brand new, but I still don't think it would have reached the 130 or 140 (can't quite remember) that it had on it's high end. Your examples are impressive, but what were the top speeds listed on the meters?

vote-for6vote-against

@tarasadie17: Not real thrilled to read this story...

vote-for4vote-against

I have brought my 79 AMC Concord back around to almost 0, the speedometer went to 90. The cop in his family car said I was doing 80, but I knew that was way off. He did not have a radar gun and I told him, truefully, was not doing 80 when I passed him. No ticket issued.

That car was quite hard on tires.

My question would be: why did that (completely stock) car's speedometer not go higher?

vote-for8vote-against

@wootfertexas: Other than the whole "tires and brakes aren't rated for that kind of speed" problem, and your fuel mileage goes to hell, yeah, you're right.
Yes, it is perception. In 1980, federal law made all manufacturers make all speedometers of all cars sold in the U.S. read no higher than 85, since at that time the top speed limit federal law allowed was 55. Vettes the year before had 140 MPH speedos and went to 85 MPH, so the new speed limit was looking like your speedo was almost pegged- you must be going fast! No rev limiter, no other changes but the speedo, so they figgered that we'd just buy the trick and live with it.
Didn't work...

vote-for6vote-against

Hmmm, after doing some research on the internet...I do not think that car was stock.
That car would do 50 in a block (around 330 feet).
Did I mention the car was bad on tires?

vote-for4vote-against

@caffeine_dude: It was the 70s. They wanted us to go slower.

vote-for6vote-against

LOLing at myself. :-) Several of you have mentioned "speedo" and I immediately got this really ugly mental image of an overweight man w/his gut hanging out. :-/ Now I get it!

Back OT. I believe it's purely psychological. The thought of being able to go WAY over the posted speed limit is compelling to many. My last 356sc Porsche's speedo (snicker) was in kilometers, not mph. Learned quickly how to compute that one. You do not want to be caught speeding in one of those.

vote-for4vote-against

I've got to say, as someone who regularly drives at a speed of 80mph on the autobahn and well over 120 where there's no limit, going that fast really isn't that big of a thrill. I think when I move back home and have to do 65 it won't even bother me.

vote-for9vote-against

@havocsback: Back when 55mph was the national law I used to itch to load a bunch of Congresspeople in a car in downtown El Paso and tell them to pick Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio or Austin and drive there. Stick to 55mph the whole way. 600 miles of desolate desert road sparsely peppered with the sort of small towns popular in B horror films. Make sure there were a few Congresswomen onboard, as frankly there aren't enough bathrooms on I10 to drive 600 miles at 55mph. I once made the drive to Austin on Christmas day and saw maybe ten people in 10 hours. 600 miles and only the kids at the gas station and Sonic in Ft. Stockton and a couple of rigs on the highway till I got into Austin. I was listening to Stephen King's audiobook Desperation and it was one spooky drive.

vote-for5vote-against

@narfcake: Awesome video and I almost was a believer until I saw that this was an "R" model V70. These things are made for racing. I totally understand the speedometer on the V70R. 2.5L Turbocharged I5 engine, 300 hp, 6 gears, Brembo brakes...mmmmm.

vote-for5vote-against

@oo7slice: You were able to buy them off the lot, so it's not like it's modified or a one-off production.

In the late 90's/early 00's, the California Highway Patrol ran a fleet of S70's; 236hp was enough for 146+mph, so 155mph isn't out of the realm with more power on tap.

vote-for4vote-against

the speedo on my neon goes to 120. fastest I've ever had it is 80, though I've not TRIED to top it out....
only car i ever did peg, and semi-regularly ( i was 18-19 and invincible), was my '87 Olds 98. 3.8l of gm naturally aspirated power, w/an 85 mph speedo. not sure how fast i really got it up to, though i did see the hood start to flutter a little on the back roads once... and i did the entire I-270 Beltway around Columbus, OH(55 mi or so), pegged, once.(early Jan. '99). later that night i got my first ever ticket. @ 1am or so, doing 88 in a 65 on us 30 near Bellefontaine, OH. ahh to be young and stupid.

that car(stock) did outrun a camaro(of similar vintage driven by a student @ the local High Pref. auto College) on city street drag race once.....
not long after all that the timing belt and trans both went in short order(120k mi or so).......oops...

vote-for5vote-against

@oo7slice: I don't remember what the actual limits on my old cars were, but really, I have no reason to lie on this board. I was test driving the Geo w/ the limit being about 85, I passed it by the same length of space between 75 and 85 so it looked like 95 to me - headed for 100 before I ran into a wall of rain. Had to back off. Perception??? I thought I was gonna go airborne.

The '95 Corsica had a weird limit like 95 or 105. Way past it when the AC went hot. Didn't know compressors shut down at high speeds and I thought I had broke my new car. It had a fast 3.1L V6.

The '98 Jeep G Cherokee was three years old w/ new tires when we drove cross country. Still have it, 125 on the speedo. Hit 100+ lots of times. Kansas is the most desolate drive in the solar system not Nevada.

I've seen an old Camaro motor blow up, a drive shaft fly out and the rear tire fall off an old Ford p/u, and had a few tires blow out. Don't haul ass if you don't have the means and nerve to do it.

vote-for5vote-against

My old-junk-car-max-out-story:
My family had a 15 year old Dodge Ram Van when I was in high school. I lived in Rockland County,NY (suburb of NYC) so there were no desolate stretches of road. Nevertheless, I wanted to max it out, so I got on the NY State Thruway, took it up to about 70 mph and then hit the down hill portion of the road (for those familiar with the area, about exit 14 going towards the Tapan Zee Bridge). At 75 it started shaking. At 85 it was shaking violently. At 90 it was shaking so badly, I couldn't keep it in my lane. That's when I had to start hitting the breaks because there was no way I would be able to control the car any faster.

Ah...the good old days...

vote-for4vote-against

ummm.... so you can see how fast you are going?

vote-for7vote-against

@oo7slice: While this is purely fiction if anyone in a law enforcement capacity is reading, I can personally confirm you're greatly underestimating the "Volvo." (Way to not identify the model...)

I've been in a 164 and a 244 (DL, not even turbo) both doing over 90, and I've driven a 745 (wagon) turbo (1985, if I recall correctly) well over 100. (and yes, I mean MPH, not KPH.) Finally, I've had an 855R (wagon, again, that's what the 5 on the end means..... it's the number of doors) up to 130 and an S60R (Why, oh why, did they change the numbering system?) up to 140 MPH ... and that wasn't even getting close to the redline in sixth gear. That last one is actually limited at 155, but is documented to do 167 if you just flash the engine controller to remove that limit, without even changing any of the performance characteristics. Story goes that they had to de-tune the stick shift version of that car since the auto-tranny couldn't handle the full torque.

Now they're Chinese :(

vote-for5vote-against

@oo7slice: I also feel the need to share this wonderful archive of vintage Volvo performance marketing literature/propaganda. It's the Porsche 944 one that really stuck with me, but the others are fun too:

http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2011/02/24/hauling-and-hauling-volvos-ads-for-the-740-turbo-wagon/

vote-for7vote-against

I've been told by a handful of design engineers who work at nearby facilities that the reason is twofold:
1. The psychological aspect already mentioned (although that's relatively minor), and
2. The original, real reason: the fact that they wanted the correct legal speed limit for most Interstate road travel at the time of manufacture to be vertical (or nearly so) on the dial (before cars began having digital readouts.)

vote-for8vote-against

@reginafilangee is all over it. I work as an engineer at a major auto manufacturer and both of those answers are pretty valid. Also, one of the biggest reasons is the commonization of parts i.e. they try to use the same parts on as many different vehicles as possible. The fewer different parts they make, the cheaper they are, and also the less chance of installing a wrong part on the wrong vehicle. So even though your car may top out under 100 mph, that very same speedo may be used on a car that goes 150.

vote-for2vote-against

When perfectly tuned with proper suspension and good high-speed tires, you'd be surprised how fast the typical car will go. My '96 gmc sonoma with a little 4 cyl engine had no problem hitting 90 on the freeway, at which point the governor they installed in the factory prevented higher speeds. I'm assuming I could have passed 110mph w/o the governor.

Remember, Rodney King got his a$$ whooped because he was driving a POS Hyundai at speeds over 100mph in the police chase.

vote-for1vote-against

@earlyre: My 1995 Dodge Neon was governed at 114 mph. Yep, it goes over 80!

vote-for2vote-against

@psaux: Awesome link! I think my personal favorite is "Buy Volvos. They're boxy, but they're good." This also really makes me want to take my cars out for a little spin.

vote-for1vote-against

Manufacturing parts. It's much easier to order 1,000,000 speedometer units with a consistant max readout then it is to order completely different ones for each model.

vote-for1vote-against

@kamikazeken: Is that with a tail wind too? My daily driver is a S10 with the 2.2L ... only on a downhill was I ever able to get past 75. The joke is that the 0-60 time is measured on a sundial!