I recently installed three (3) AutoMeter aftermarket gauges in my 08’ Focus Sedan. I was asked if it was difficult and how I accomplished the installations, so here are my notes. I’ve include how I installed the gauges in the console and dash, got the wires from their senders in the engine bay into the passenger cabin, installed the temperature sender and how I wired them for power and dimming.
I am NOT an expert on wiring or gauge installs, in fact this is the first time I’ve done it. So any comments or suggestions for a better approach to anything I did are very welcome.
These are gauges I installed.
All three gauges are from AutoMeter’s 2 1/16th inch Ultra-Lite Digital series which I purchased (new in box) from eBay.
Air/Fuel Ratio Monitor - $245
Water Temperature - $84
Volt Meter - $74
These are very nice gauges (my opinion) and each kit includes everything you need.
Homemade Angle Mount
I’ll begin with the homemade angle mounts I made for each gauge. These allowed me to position the two gauges in the floor console at a better viewing angle as well as mount the temperature gauge on the curved surface of the dash.
I made my angle mounts from a 2” shop vacuum hose adapter (pictured below). This worked perfectly for my 2 1/16th inch gauges, nice snug fit. Each adapter can make two (2) angle mounts.
I just put a cut piece on my bench top sander to create the angle.
Here’s a piece before sanding;
And after sanding; (I timed this, it took two minutes)
And here’s one of those angle mounts on my Volt Meter.
Mounting the Gauges (
remember this is my 08’ Focus, it’ll be different for other years, but may help with some ideas for you)
Floor Console Installation
2” hole saw
Enough courage to cut holes in your floor console top.
To mount my gauges I used that worthless little area under the power points (I call it the Kleenex holder) for two of the gauges and mounted the third in the dash.
To mount the gauges in the floor console;
Remove the top of the floor console
- remove the shift knob and shift boot (push rear of boot forward to start release)
- remove the parking brake boot; pull the brake up all the way, try starting in the middle of the boot, pull the boot in towards the brake handle and it should start to release.
- open the storage door
- starting at the storage door, pull floor console top up to release and then work along the sides of the console top releasing the tabs as you go.
- lift console top up and over emergency brake and shifter and take it to your work area.
(To reinstall the console top, start at the front and work towards the rear. Line it up and position it correctly up front and work back towards the rear. Watch the tabs along the sides making sure they snap in correctly)
HEY!!! Do the rest of this slowly and test fit often
With the top of the floor console in your work area, remove the black rubber piece from the “Kleenex” holder area.
I used a 2” hole saw to cut the holes where I wanted them. The far right and left side of “Kleenex” area are free from obstructions underneath when the top is installed.
You can install these gauges straight down in those holes if you wish. I angled mine with my homemade angle mounts for a little better viewing angle. To install the gauges at an angle you will have to enlarge the hole towards the front of the console top. Here is a picture that will help explain that;
After cutting the holes in the console top you can use those holes to trace cut lines on the rubber piece from the Kleenex holder. Put the rubber piece in place and from underneath draw the cut lines on the rubber using the holes in the console as your template.
Test the fit and go slowly until you have the fit you want.
That’s it for mounting the gauges in the floor console top. I did not need to secure the gauges from underneath; they jut sit comfortably in place as they are.
You may want to leave the floor console top off for wiring or put it back on now and enjoy your work; you can always take it off again.
2” hole saw
Enough courage to cut a hole in your dash.
To mount the gauge where I did in the dash was just a simple matter of using the 2” hole saw to drill the hole where I wanted it. I used the location I did because it is clear of obstructions behind that area. I did secure that gauge with the holder that comes with the kit. And I did have to customize that holder to fit – which was just cutting the pieces out in-between the main posts to clear some metal framing.
The only reason the gauge fits cleaning in the dash is because of the angle mount
. The dash curves and if you just push the gauge into the hole it will be pointing down at the floor. You can make your own angle mount or buy them on-line.
Lastly, in order to view this gauge better I raised the steering wheel a little.
Running cables between the passenger cabin and engine bay
Any time you have a gauge that requires a sender under the hood you are going to have to figure out a way to get the wire(s) from the sender to the gauge.
There maybe other ways to accomplish this but I did it using the plug that is hiding behind the door when it’s closed. Pop the cap, pull the plug out and you’ll find it’s a long empty tube. I cut off the tube, leaving about 1”.
With that plug pulled out I ran a coat hanger straight down the inside where it came out just below the Smart Junction Box (where the fuses are) inside the car. Fish that coat hanger down slowly and hold your hand against the insulation inside and you’ll feel where the end of the coat hanger is. With patience you will get it to appear inside the car (there’s a picture below in the wiring section that shows where my A/F monitor wire comes into the passenger cabin).
Tape the gauge wiring (tape it well) to the end of the coat hanger and slowly work it back up and out of the hole.
Before you go further, run the connector through the tube you removed and put that back in place. I cut a notch in the cap to make room for the cable(s).
In the picture above you can also see where the cable route towards the engine bay. Inside that area is a rubber insulator. You can simply push past that insulator on the left hand side and it will come nicely back into place around your wire(s).
Here’s a picture of where this all comes out under the hood
To date I’ve been lucky and the gauges came with long enough cables to route them this way. The wire above is for my wide band A/F monitor which runs to the heated oxygen sensor in the header. My temperature gauge wires now run along side this wire.
Air/Fuel Monitor Installation
The AutoMeter A/F monitor comes with everything you need to install it, including the heated oxygen sensor (HO2S), which is the sending unit for this gauge. The connecter in the middle of the wiring harness for this gauge is huge; which is the primary reason for routing the wires as I did. You’d need at least a 3/4" hole in the firewall to get the plug through that way.
The kit does come with a new bung you can have installed for the HO2S. Luckily my F2USA header has three HO2S locations, only two of which are required for the 08’ Focus. I just used the third location for my A/F monitor HO2S.
I only had to install the HO2S and route the cables into the passenger cabin. See “wire connections” below for how I connected things inside the cabin.
Water Temperature Sender Installation
Placement of the water temperature sender was a challenge and a very nervous time for me. I wanted the sender where it would measure the water temperature at all times, not just when the thermostat was open. I also wanted as true a reading as I could get to the actual temperature of the water in the engine, not somewhere else in the system.
I finally settled on the coolant outlet adapter. The what? This is where the coolant comes out of the cylinder head and is directed into the heater core hose and the upper radiator hose. As water is continually circulating through this location, even when the thermostat is closed, I get the actual water temperature at all times. I can watch it rise from the ambient air temperature after being parked in the garage all night to 198’ – 200’ when it’s fully warmed up.
Below is a diagram of the coolant flow which helped me decide where I was going to place the sender. The coolant outlet adapter is number 11.
The picture below shows the location of the coolant adaptor.
And below is a close up of the coolant outlet adapter with the water temperature sender installed.
Note: I installed it as far right as possible towards the heater core hose side of the adapter.
The picture below hopefully clarifies the location of the coolant outlet adapter at little better. The temperature sender is circled and that’s the upper radiator hose highlighted on the left.
To get access to the coolant outlet adapter I had to remove the battery, battery tray, the air tube from the SRI to TB, disconnect a miscellaneous cable and the top two plugs in the Power Control Module (PCM).
To install the sender I then removed the upper radiator hose and inserted a smaller tube with the top cut out of it to catch any drill savings. I knew I only had one shot to get this right so I played a lot with scrap plastic pieces to try and determine the correct drill and tap size. The instructions say the sender is 1/8th NPT. But when I used my 1/8th NPT tape I got a loose fit. I continued to play until I found a drill and tap combination that gave me a tight fit. And here’s the worst part, I didn’t note what I finally used (stupid, stupid, stupid me). Sorry, but I’m not going to guess and give you the wrong information.
I can tell you that the sender is tapered so the fit gets tighter as you screw it in. When I screwed in my sensor I could only go a couple of turns by hand and the rest of the way was a slow painful adventure with the wrench. I was expecting some kind of disaster every time I turned the wrench, didn’t happen.
I did not screw the sender flush with the coolant adapter as the sender has a gap between the top of the threads and the bottom of the sending unit (perhaps a good place for an O-ring but one didn’t come with the kit, or I lost it). The first time I ran it up to temperature there was a small occasional dribble at the sender. About 1 more turn with the wrench solved that.
There are other, easier, ways to connect this sender. One is to purchase an adapter that goes into the radiator hose which you just screw the sender into. If you go that route hold the adapter up to the hose and cut the hose twice – once on each side of the piece of the adapter the sender goes into. That way the hose will still be its original length when you insert the adapter. I hope that made some sort of sense.
Volt Meter Installation
This is straight forward and does not require routing any wires to a sending unit. Simply mount and connect the wires. See “wire connections” below on how I choose to connect mine.
OK, so now all these gauges have to be hooked up to a power source and a ground. In fact two of my gauges required two power connections. One is the main power and is switched with the ignition so the gauges are only operational with the key on. The second power wire is connected to a supply wire that’s only energized when the lights are on. Power on this wire causes the gauges to dim so they don’t blind you at night. These LEDs are bright, even when dimmed they are still fairly bright. I have an AutoMeter LED dimmer coming which will allow me to dim those further. Also the LED dimmer will allow for one main location to connect all the required wires for my current and any future gauges.
As I stated at the beginning of this I am NOT a wiring expert. So if anyone out there wants to recommend a better location to tap into wires then those that I have used I welcome any comments.
For the switched power (on with ignition) I taped into the wire pictured below. This is a plug going into the smart junction box (SJB). The SJB is where you’ll find your fuses inside the passenger cabin. Again, this is my 08’ so yours may very well be different.
The wire I tapped into is the BROWN AND YELLOW wire in the top right hand position of that connector. My manual identifies it only as “SWITCH - IGNITION # RUN”. I ran a wire from it to a 3 amp in-line fuse and all my gauges connect to that for their main (switched) power.
I also highlighted (Yellow Square) the A/F monitor sending cable in the picture above. That is where it comes into the cabin from the hole in the door above.
For ground I just used a screw holding the steering column reinforcement plate which is under the steering column cover.
For the power wire connection to dim the gauges I tapped into the headlight switch itself, which I can’t get a picture of. I just reached up from behind and disconnected the plug from the main light switch. I taped into the Gray wire (pin 3) which is for the parking lights. Again I ran a wire from that to another 3 amp in-line fuse and connected both my gauges that required it to that (the A/F monitor auto-dims with a built in sensor). So anytime the lights are on (parking or headlights) there is power in that wire and the gauges dim.
So I think that’s about it. If I forgot something, can clarify anything better, made a stupid mistake and am just waiting for my car to turn into a torch, PM me and I’ll make the corrections.