Installing a Boost Gauge
Paradise Garage

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© 2001 Brian F. Schreurs
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With the pending supercharger installation on the visiting 1995 Mustang GT 5.0, it was a no-brainer to isntall a boost gauge. After all, the amount of boost being generated is a pretty important piece of information: too much and you blow your motor; too little and you probably need to have the thing warrantied.

To make it easy, we installed a 2-1/16" mechanical boost gauge from Auto Meter (#3301) and we put it in an Auto Meter gauge pod (#10001) that replaces the factory doofy clock pod. This gauge pod is a dual-gauge unit so think about what other gauges you might like to have -- we went with an air/fuel ratio gauge. To hook the thing up properly, we used a Vortech 5/32" brass vacuum tee (#7P156-082) that tapped into a Vortech vacuum line. If you don't have a supercharger to tap into, well, you don't really need a boost gauge you dork!

The clock pod pops loose with little difficulty.
Remove the center console cover. It pulls off -- be gentle to avoid breaking the cheap clips Ford likes to use everywhere. Disconnect the wires going to the accessory power outlet (cigarette lighter in the old days).

Remove the clock pod. All you have to do is push on the pod from the front; it has clips on the front that hold it down. The clock is wired to the car's power supply; unplug it.

To handle the wiring, you'll have to take the dashboard apart. To get the front fascia off, you must first remove the headlight knob. Pull the knob to its full-open position and look for a slit near the base. Supposedly there's some sort of clip in there that you just loosen with a pick or punch, but we dunno. We just fiddled with it for about a half hour till it fell off. It'd probably be easier to just buy a new one and break the old one off.

With the headlight knob out of the way, it's possible to pull the fascia off. It's held in place by two Torx bolts, size T-15. They are located along the upper edge. With those removed, gently pry the fascia off.

To run the vacuum line, the instrument panel will have to come off. Luckily, it's also not too hard to do: remove four Torx T-20 bolts and unplug two electrical connectors. Then it just pulls right out.

Run the vacuum line from the hole in the dashboard, around the bulkhead (avoiding kinks and sharp edges), and through a hole in the firewall. If your car is an automatic, there's a handy hole in the firewall to the passenger-side of the master cylinder. We're practically running a whole harness through it at this point. If your car's a manual, well, break out the drill.

Of course, the dashboard has to come apart to run all the wiring and the vauum line! It can't be easy!
The gauge has one wire to power the light and one for ground. The ground can go to any good ground such as the structure or another ground wire. The light needs to get power when the rest of the instrument panel is illuminated, and no power at any other time. We already had other gauges installed on our Mustang (see the transmission temperature gauge and the oil gauge for details) so we just tapped into those for light. If you haven't been modifying your car just like ours, you'll need to run a wire to a parking light to get the signal. Theoretically, you should be able to tap into the headlight switch, but we've never been able to make that work.

To hook the vacuum line to the gauge, the gauge comes with a pack of hardware and instructions detailing their order. Basically it goes like this: slide a sealing nut on the line, then follow it with a ferrule. Stick the vacuum line into the adapter, then tighten the sealing nut down on it. This captures the ferrule and provides a seal. Then, lubricate the adapter, run the assembly through a hole in the gauge pod, and attach it to the back of the gauge. No problem!

To install the gauge pod, slide the T-bar mount up under the dashboard so that the threaded stud is sticking up. Slide the upper mounting plate onto the threaded stud so that the two bars sandwich the dash, holding the bars in place. Use the conventional nut to hold them together.

Run the wires through the gauge hole on the pod. Connect the gauge and wires. If you are installing two gauges at the same time, prepare that gauge for installation as well. Consider the two gauges and decide which will be less difficult to push into place (almost certainly the other one). Since we were doing the air/fuel ratio gauge, we decided the air/fuel gauge was easier to install.

Put the harder gauge into position in the pod.

The boost gauge is highly visible and provides valuable information about the supercharger's activities.
Place the pod over the threaded stud and position it to your liking. Hold it in place by putting the nylon locknut on the threaded stud. Once the gauge pod is stable (keeping in mind that if it's loose, it'll rattle like a dozen marbles in a 2-lb coffee can), press the easier gauge into place.

Keep pushing. Push, push, push! Breathe! Make sure it goes in straight.

Reassemble the dashboard.

Reassemble the console.

In the engine bay, hang the vacuum line off something until the supercharger is installed. Then come back. We'll wait.

Done? Cool. About four inches from the manifold vacuum tree, between the tree and the fuel pressure regulator, cut the line and install the Vortech brass tee. Zip tie the spliced vacuum lines to the tee. On the stem of the tee, insert the gauge boost line inside the brass tee. Wrap it real nice with Teflon tape.

Now the gauge should be reading vacuum and boost. Try it out!

This gauge is really, really important. Aside from being cool the way it bounces around, it can tell you valuable information about the condition and performance of the supercharger. It can also indicate a vacuum leak, another useful feature. Too bad it won't tell you where the leak is! And, just in case your passengers weren't sure where all that power and noise was coming from, the boost gauge will settle the matter permanently.