Speedometer Not Working (Causes & Solutions)

Do you want to know why you have a “speedometer not working” problem and how to fix it? If yes, then you’re at the right place. We’ll help you understand everything you need to know about why you have a “speedometer not working” problem and how to easily and cheaply fix it.

It is no longer news that when driving a car, it is very important to know how fast you are moving and how much distance you’ve covered. So if you have an odometer or speedometer not working, it is important you quickly get it fixed. As for a non-mechanic, it will be hard to determine the reason behind a faulty speedometer.

If your vehicle’s speedometer is not working, it most definitely means the odometer isn’t working and should be checked as soon as possible. As for the remaining part of the article, you’ll know more about the reasons behind a malfunctioning odometer and a speedometer not working and how they can be fixed.

So should your vehicle encounter likely issues, keep reading as we walk you through ways they can be fixed.

You may have situations whereby the speedometer is in good condition, while the odometer isn’t. This would imply that the odometer’s gears are damaged, and require replacement.

Also Read: How Far Can You Go On 0 Miles to Empty? (+ Tips)

How Does a Speedometer Work?

Speedometer Not Working

A speedometer is a device that accurately measures the velocity a vehicle travels. For decades, cars of different types have been built with a quality in-built speedometer.

Most speedometers that were formerly built were designed with cable. Most systems were used with an adjustable cable attached to a gear; a transmission output shaft carried these gears. On the other side of the cable was a magnet that turned into a speed cup.

Well, the effect from the magnetic field sets the speed cup in motion. This rotatory movement of the speed cup spins the attached gauged needle updating the motorists on how fast their car is moving.

How Does an Electronic Speedometer Work?

Vehicles of recent times now use an electronic speedometer that utilizes a speed sensor to read pulses at the edge of the gear that is placed on top of the output edge of your car’s transmission.

The car’s control module explains the pulses, which send a corresponding message to the car’s instrument cluster.

A detected pulse rate by the car’s speed sensor rises as it accelerates; this act changes the signal displayed in the correlating module, and vice versa when the rate of the speed sensor drops.

Reasons the Speedometer is Not Working

Speedometer Not Working

The causes of a faulty speedometer could be a lot. Fortunately, a replacement isn’t the only solution to a faulty speedometer. Below are likely problems responsible for messing with your speedometer, alongside helpful tips to enable you to fix them.

A damaged sensor, dial malfunctioning, or bad wiring are common problems for a damaged speedometer. And problems like these require a replacement of the speed sensor or cable, depending on the type of vehicle. Either way, you can easily do these two repairs at home.

1. Broken Speed Sensor

One of the common reasons why you might see the speedometer not working is a bad or broken speed sensor.

The speed sensor has diverse purposes, including regulating the fuel flow and ignition timing, working the cruise control, and indicating the vehicle’s speed. Unfortunately, a faulty speed sensor could damage a speedometer completely.

So you might as well notice that the car isn’t running as it should, and you no longer have control of the cruise control.

The check engine light is affected due to the faulty speed sensor. This is one sign that lets you know something is wrong.

Also Read: Bad Speed Sensor Symptoms (Causes & Fix)

2. Bad Wiring/Faulty Fuse

Another common reason why you might see the speedometer not working is bad wiring or a faulty fuse.

For this, an exposed wire (If there’s any at all) that comes in contact with something wet, can result in a blown fuse. And should the fuse of a speedometer get damaged, that leaves it at zero.

3. Malfunctioning ECU

A malfunctioning ECU is another reason you might have a speedometer not working problem.

ECU, known as the Engine Control Unit, is considered the brain (a computerized one) in a car, that monitors different parts of the activity in the car, which is the speed.

Should anything go wrong with the Engine Control Unit, it adversely affects the car’s ability to read or know the speed it travels. This makes the speedometer reduce to zero completely.

4. Changes in the Car

Changes in the a vehicle can be a reason it might have a speedometer not working problem.

A vehicle’s speedometer is calibrated in line with the radius and diameter of the factory-fitted tires, the car comes with. The determinants play an effective role in the car’s performance.

The speedometer might also be affected if the new tires are bigger or come in different dimensions. Mad if the calibration of the speedometer doesn’t corroborate with the level the tires cover the ground, and that is when you have inaccurate readings.

How to Fix a Broken Speedometer (How to Fix Speedometer Not Working)

Before the repair of a speedometer, it is vital one pinpoint the actual problem of their car. For example, a high-end scan tool or a multimeter could validate circuit integrity and speed sensor.

Also, a car’s instrument cluster could be checked by a bi-directional scanning tool.

A visual inspection could go a long way when identifying the issue behind a faulty speedometer. Look out for your car’s speed sensor, connectors, and corresponding wiring if any is damaged.

You may also observe the function of your instrument cluster for any irregularities. In most cases, you’ll also observe the needle of the speedometer jumping or an issue where it stops and continues in that process.

When you are certain your sensor is indeed damaged, then a replacement is in order. So you’ll have to remove the faulty hold-down fastener of the sensor, remove the speed sensor from its sensor bore, and install a new one.

Faulty wiring can be a little difficult to fix, or even identify where exactly the problem is from. In such situations, a pigtail or harness for replacement can be bought, or a circuit repair could be done.

Should your speedometer encounter a fault, it would be best if you remove the instrument cluster. However, it also requires you to take out the dash components and related hardware. After which, you can now buy a new or produced instrument cluster. Rather you have them rebuild the compromised cluster.

In a situation whereby you suspect the ECU is down with a fault, a further diagnosis should be carried out with a specific factory service. Although such computers are liable to fail, that is on rare occasions.

Check out this video for more tips on how to fix a broken speedometer

Troubleshooting Speedometer Problems

Identifying the problem of a speedometer and solving it requires a few procedures.

  1. First, remove the engine’s cover and study where the wirings go in the main part of the car. You’d find a wide black wire towards the instrument cluster; there is the speedometer cable.
  2. Take the bolt out beneath the dashboard to allow you access to the former cable.
  3. After that, remove the nut on top of the cable and transmission through the available passage. Unscrew the clamps safeguarding the cable on the transmission and engine compartment.
  4. After the removal of the former cable from the vehicle, it should be replaced. Tighten the nut found on the rotating shaft, inside the adapter and fix the recent cable’s square part.
  5. Next, let the recent cable be transported through the passage, then fasten it. Endeavor this end is joined to that square-shaped hold of the speedometer.
  6. You can now reinstall those clamps you earlier removed alongside the cover engine.

Also Read: Wheel Speed Sensor Location (How to Locate the Wheel Speed Sensor)

How to Change Speed Sensors on FWD (Front Wheel Drive) Vehicles

  1. The sensor is found at the back of the car’s engine, above the transaxle.
  2. Remove the electrical connector, air cleaner, and connecting hose from the top of the speed sensor.
  3. Take out the bolt holding the sensor with a 10mm socket. Take out the sensor by twisting it.
  4. Before you clean the outer part of the sensor, put in the new O-ring.
  5. The new speed sensor can be put in place, tightening the bolt. Replace the hose, the air cleaner on top of the hose, and the electrical connector.

Changing Speed Sensors on RWD (Rear Wheel Drive) Vehicles.

  1. The speed sensor for an all-wheel-drive automobile, also known as Rear-wheel-drive is located at the back of the transmission.
  2. To lift your vehicle, carjacking is recommended.
  3. Remove the wheels.
  4. Separate electrical connectors connected to the sensor and use a socket to remove the bolt holding the sensor.
  5. Cautiously uninstall the former sensor, and replace it with a new one. Endeavor to replace the O-ring with a new one before the installation. Put the electrical connector together with it and thread properly.

Can You Still Drive Your Car if the Speedometer is not Working?

Speedometer Not Working

It is possible to use a car without a working speedometer. However, it is not advisable to do so.

Without a working speedometer and an alternative solution, it will be impossible to know how much speed your car is traveling on. Furthermore, this act isn’t only unsafe and risky, as law enforcers easily target you for violating the speed limit.

In other words, your chances of getting a speed ticket are highly possible because of that faulty speedometer. Therefore, a faulty speedometer should not be overlooked but fixed as soon as it is detected.

Can You Use Your Phone as a Speedometer Instead?

Every modern smartphone is GPS enabled. Your phone can accurately draw a location and calculate its travel speed. These features have opened the minds of interested individuals to develop apps that track speed.

So in the absence of a speedometer, you can now be updated on your car’s speed with apps like; GPS Speedometer (for Android), Speedometer Speed Box (for iPhone), and other relating apps.

Motorists should note that these apps are not usually 100% accurate. Therefore they should only be considered a backup plan until your speedometer is repaired.

How Much Does It Cost to Fix Speedometer Not Working?

Repairing a broken speedometer is variable, as it all depends on the cause of the problem. The cost could also vary between doing it yourself and taking it to your repair guy.

The common reason for a malfunctioning speedometer is usually a faulty speed sensor. Most workshops charge about $100 to $250 for an in-house speed sensor replacement.

However, the cost of Self-service is usually lesser, as the only fee required is that of the speed sensor. A speed sensor is quite affordable, and it costs between $25 to $40.

And should this damaging result from a faulty instrument cluster, then there could be an increase in cost. Rebuilding an instrument cluster is even expensive, with the repair cost varying from $200 to $400

Changing an instrument cluster/speedometer is quite expensive. Also, a dealership program might be required for that new instrument cluster, which requires an extra fee.

Speedometer Not Working

Frequently Asked Questions – Speedometer Not Working

Can I still drive my car if the speedometer doesn’t work?

Technically, you can. However, it isn’t recommended because, without the speedometer, you won’t be able to tell how fast your car is moving and how much distance you’ve covered.

Is it expensive to fix the speedometer?

Though repairing a broken speedometer ($250) is half the price of getting a brand new one, the common reason behind a faulty speedometer is usually the sensor.

How do I get my speedometer to work again?

Bad wiring is usually the problem if it has a cable system. And if that isn’t the case, a faulty sensor is responsible. For a better part of it, replacing the wiring solves the problem. And if that doesn’t work, change the speed sensor.

Can a blown fuse stop the speedometer?

A vehicle with a bad fuse or faulty wire can reduce the speedometer to zero and keep it there. There are various reasons for a fuse blowing up, including wires getting wet when exposed or bad wiring.

How much does it cost to replace a vehicle speed sensor?

Replacing a speed sensor is about $275 & $318. While labor costs $116 to $146, parts range from $159 to $172. These costs do not include taxes and don’t depend on your location or the type of vehicle.

How Much Is A Speedometer Sensor?

Based on the year the vehicle was made, its model, and make, a speed sensor can be worth as low as $7.92 or a little more like $100. But for most cars, the speed sensor ranges from $25 to $45.

Can a broken speedometer be fixed?

For most vehicle maintenance activities, there are certain repairs that you can do at home by yourself. Still, when it relates to complicated mechanics in your electrical wiring, it’s no joke and better if you seek the help of a professional. So for that faulty speedometer, you should take it to your repair guy.

What causes the odometer to stop working?

When the speedometer and odometer aren’t functioning, the speed sensor is broken and requires replacement. As for these, they are easily located closely behind the transmission and installed. Well, that is easy, but if it’s only the odometer that is messed up, then the gears that probably turn the odometer are messed up too.

Conclusion – Speedometer Not Working

Fortunately, not every broken speedometer requires a replacement, and the only determinant factor is the cause of the malfunctioning. For example, if the problem is dial related, then only the dial has to be changed.

As for cases that have to do with a built-in computer, there most certainly has to be a replacement. Your car must run thorough testing on every part of it by a professional mechanic when the speedometer isn’t working because thorough identification and fixing problem are helpful.

Scott Greene is a seasoned automotive technician for over 5 years and has been deep into advanced automotive diagnostics for a couple of years. He Loves writing about Automotive Diagnostics and Repair, Trouble codes, Buyer guides for various car parts and accessories, and lots more. 

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