Speedometer works, but not the Odometer - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-06-2018, 05:44 PM Thread Starter
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Speedometer works, but not the Odometer

I'm now down to the niggly bits on the S4. Shortly after taking ownership, I noticed that the odometer is not registering. Speedo works just fine. Good news is that I've only put a few local miles on the car since the engine service had it stationed in the garage for months.

Any thoughts on why the odometer is not working, yet the speedo is??

I'm about to pull the binacle cover (using Sanjaya's excellent tips) to snoop around to see if anything is amiss. I am also going to spin the boost gauge 180 degrees as with the Elise wheel in the car, I can only see the bottom of the gauge.
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-06-2018, 06:12 PM
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I think the gears in the odometer come adrift, some repair it themselves, some send it to a gauge specialist.

I solved my gauge visibility issues with an eccentric steering wheel mount, which allowed me to see the speedo as well.

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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-06-2018, 09:51 PM
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My late 88 VDO speedometer didn't work well - at about 50K miles I had it rebuilt by Palo Alto Speedometer (they had a good reputation - that's why I used them and they were local).

However, the odometer was sporadic - research said it was a common issue with VDO speedometer/odometers. Not sure if S4 uses VDO - I thought it may be electronic not mechanical.

FYI - my repaired VDO speedometer - the odometer worked from 50K to 80K miles, but at the 75K mile marker, the speedometer started failing again.

That barely lasted 25K miles, so I can't recommend that shop given the short lifespan.

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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-07-2018, 04:24 AM
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I guess I am lazy, my odometer stopped working a couple years ago. I just use my Garman to track the milage and write it down so I know when it's time for an oil change.
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-07-2018, 06:20 AM
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If the speedo works the problem is inside the speedometer head. If things just came apart it is a very easy fix but if you need parts they are near impossible to get so it would need to be sent out to a specialist that repairs them. Since the head has to come out in all cases pull the head and open it up. If you can fix it great and if you can't you now know what to do. Are you sure it is the odometer that is not registering? If you are looking at the trip odometer it's possible it is not moving because the reset is stuck in.
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-07-2018, 06:46 AM Thread Starter
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I think the gears in the odometer come adrift, some repair it themselves, some send it to a gauge specialist.

I solved my gauge visibility issues with an eccentric steering wheel mount, which allowed me to see the speedo as well.
I'm going to take a look and see what's there.

I have an Elise airbag wheel in the car, so I'm not so sure about the eccentric wheel mount working with it. The adaptor already pushes the wheel closer to the driver, so another layer will have me looking like a NASCAR driver 'up on the wheel'!
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-07-2018, 10:12 AM
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Not sure if it's the same but I had this problem on an old Mercedes with a VDO speedo. I found that the plastic gear that drives the odometer was slipping on its shaft (although I've also heard they can break). It's fussy but I was able to take the instrument apart, rough up the shaft a bit and then slide the gear back on with a drop of crazy glue. It worked fine after that for several years until I sold the car. I'll also second Eddie's recommendation of PA speedometer. I've had them do instrument repairs for me a couple of times and they do excellent work.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-07-2018, 12:46 PM
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Dave. What if your Speedo jumps every so often but the odometer works fine?
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-07-2018, 12:57 PM Thread Starter
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After wrestling with removing the speedo (the rubber ring would not release the unit...), I've shipped my speedometer off to Nichols Speedometer in Greensboro, NC for repair and calibration as it was wildly optimistic on the speed as well as the odometer not registering mileage.
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-07-2018, 01:16 PM
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Dave. What if your Speedo jumps every so often but the odometer works fine?
That may be your cable. It can bind and then release, causing the needle to jump. Speedo cables do need some lubrication after decades... Is it a regular bounce or jump or is it sporadic?

Mike

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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-07-2018, 01:35 PM
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On the VDO speedos, the magnetic disk inside moves out of place and binds the needle.

Atwell Haines
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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-07-2018, 03:30 PM
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I have an S4s so I believe it's an electronic Speedo. Non cable.
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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-07-2018, 04:20 PM
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S4s used Caerbont not VDO.

Atwell Haines
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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-07-2018, 06:25 PM
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If the speedo needle jumps (and it is mechanical) often it is the inner cable. They do need to be lubricated but other things can make them jump. If the ends get rounded or frayed it can slip. If the cable is too short it can slip. Lastly remove the cable and lay it out on some clean newspaper. If you see a sharp kink or bend it is bad. If it is in nice smooth, even coils and the ends look good lube it up with some speedometer cable lubricant (good luck finding it!) and slide it back in. Make sure the outer cable is not damaged or bent sharply. If you can't find speedo cable lubricant you can mix some up using powdered graphite and diesel fuel. Messy job, use gloves. If your electronic speedo is jumping or blinking it is a bad connection. If you can't find an external bad connection it is probably inside.
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-08-2018, 04:39 AM
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If you can't find speedo cable lubricant you can mix some up using powdered graphite and diesel fuel. Messy job, use gloves.
David Teitelbaum
Mine has jumped for years. I've tried to fix it 3 or 4 times to no avail. I'm trying your recipe. THANKS!!
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post #16 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-08-2018, 05:47 AM Thread Starter
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Lastly remove the cable and lay it out on some clean newspaper. If you see a sharp kink or bend it is bad. If it is in nice smooth, even coils and the ends look good lube it up with some speedometer cable lubricant (good luck finding it!) and slide it back in.
David Teitelbaum
David:
So, just pull the cable out of the housing (after disconnecting at both ends)? I assume you've done this; any issues sliding the cable back into the housing? This is a 'while I'm in there' project and I'll pull it from the speedometer head end. I see that O'Reilly carries a cable lube that is a mix of graphite and oil.
Bob
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post #17 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-08-2018, 07:57 AM
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I haven't had to do this in many years but that is how we used to fix them. Be aware the inner cable will only come out from one end. Often you must disconnect the head end to remove the inner cable. You only have to disconnect the end you are removing the cable from. To get the cable back in you usually have to turn it to get the end to engage. Lube as you install the cable.
David Teitelbaum
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post #18 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-08-2018, 12:33 PM
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Years ago....the mods were many....my MG up around 135 ground its cable to bits....no speedo, no odo....take my advice....ignore the problem. Later..... the story of how that saved me a ticket
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post #19 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-08-2018, 01:07 PM
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I know on mine, an '88, Citroen transaxle, I know it's different from the S4, you don't have to take off both ends. The easy way, on my car, is to disconnect it on the trans end and just pull it out. Much easier than having to take the binnacle off!!
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post #20 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-08-2018, 01:33 PM
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Don't forget that unlike the one-piece speedometer cable in the '88, the later 4 cylinder cars (S4 for sure) had a two-piece speedometer cable setup.
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Atwell Haines
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