How to Wire a Volt Meter in a Car

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How to Wire a Volt Meter in a Car
Precision gauges make engine monitoring an easy task. (fire truck gauges image by Rob Hill from Fotolia.com)

Driving a car requires an immense amount of responsibility. Keeping your eyes on the road and being aware of the traffic is only half of the job. A driver also needs to monitor the vehicle's performance. Interpreting what the engine is saying to you through its movements and sounds is also a function of a responsible driver. Fortunately, there are a few quality aftermarket suppliers that help make engine monitoring easier. For example, a good way to find out the status of your car's charging system is to wire a volt meter into the system.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Volt meter and mounting kit
  • Wrench
  • Self-tapping screws
  • Drill motor
  • Screwdriver bit
  • Wire stripper
  • Crimping pliers

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Apply the parking brake. Open the bonnet. Remove the battery ground cable by loosening the retaining bolt with a wrench.

  2. 2

    Mount the gauge. Open your gauge package and inspect the contents. You will have the volt meter gauge, the gauge housing (mounting bracket), mounting hardware, wire and the directions. Read the directions on mounting the gauge. Find a location to place the gauge where it can be easily seen (along the bottom of the dash is often the best). Hold the housing against the dash and place a self-tapping screw through the mounting hole. With a screwdriver bit locked into the drill motor, drive the screw in until it is tight. Repeat this process for the other mounting hole.

  3. 3

    Wire the positive side of the gauge. Run the positive wire from the gauge through the firewall. The firewall is the part of the vehicle's body that separates the passenger compartment from the engine bay (underneath the dash board). Slide the wire through an existing grommet and connect it to the positive battery terminal by stripping the end of the wire with a wire stripper and crimping on a terminal end (included in the mounting kit). Connect this terminal to the positive battery post and tighten with a wrench.

  4. 4

    Wire the ground side of the gauge. Run the ground wire from the gauge to the engine block. Run the wire through the same grommet in the firewall and strip the end of the wire with the stripper. Crimp a terminal end onto the wire with the crimping pliers. Fasten this wire to the engine block by loosening a bolt, inserting the terminal on the bolt and tightening it with your wrench.

  5. 5

    Reconnect the battery. Place the negative cable back onto the battery and tighten it with a wrench. Close the bonnet.

Tips and warnings

  • A piece of double-sided tape can be used to mount a gauge if you do not wish to drill into your vehicle.
  • Never work on an electrical system unless you disconnect the battery first. It could short out and cause a fire or shock.

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