I live in Europe, but I think it's not really relevant. Personally I use japanese car, which always have the rev-counter scaled in thousands: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5..


However, often you can see cars with RPM scaled as 10, 20, 30, 40... Mostly VW, some Fords enter image description here

I've always wondered why somebody decided to use such system. I don't see any advantages of this presentation over thousands. It's just more text, which need to be smaller.

Moreover, recently I've been driving very old car, which max speed was below 100 kmh, so that both counters looked almost the same, which caused confusion for a second. With first notation(thousands) there is completely no risk of confusion.

What is the reason to use this presentation?

  • this seems purely a matter of style. I suppose there is a certain aesthetic to having the tachometer face look similar to the speedometer (the very thing that confused you of course) – agentp Aug 22 '17 at 11:51

Smiths (classic english gauge maker) had rpm * 100... Used in many british made cars.

The numbers used are usually chosen by designers and what people are used to seeing which has changed, and is always changing, over time.

Another point to consider is that most people tend to get information more rapidly from the position of hands on a dial especially compared to a digital readout - which is probably linked to how early we relate to a clock face... I have read an article about this sort of thing but it escapes me at the moment.


I was unable to find a reference for this, but as a kid, I was told the reason they scale the tachometer the way they do is that the whole number (x,xxx) will not fit neatly on the face of the gauge. It could make the gauge very cluttered.

enter image description here

Another thing to consider is the ability to glance at the gauge and see the number quickly and easily without having to focus your attention, which should be on the road. If the numbers were smaller, some people may not be able to see it readily.

  • 1
    I think you missed the question. The OP is asking why some cars use x100 instead of x1000. – Spivonious Aug 21 '17 at 12:57
  • That is not the way I read it. – CharlieRB Aug 21 '17 at 14:16

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