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Old 03-26-2014, 08:57 PM   #1
ivprodigy
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VDO Fuel Level Gauge Retrofit

I have been making good progress on my track E30.
The previous owner was pretty keen on weight saving so most everything from the interior went the way of the dodo.
The car now has VDO gauges and MS instead of the stock gauge (not sure why that was necessary but it is what I am working with).

From my research the fuel level senders in the tank have a range of 0-60ohms.
The VDO gauge that came with the car operates on a 0-90ohm range and it doesn't seem to work (no surprise there).

Has anyone gone away from using the stock gauges?
Does anyone have suggestions on how I can remedy my dilemma?
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Old 03-27-2014, 06:10 AM   #2
jlevie
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I've been told that Stack makes a fuel gauge that can be programmed for the resistance range of the stock VDO sensor. Not only is the range odd, but it works backwards (zero ohms full).
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Old 03-27-2014, 09:03 PM   #3
ivprodigy
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Thanks Jim!
I hadn't thought about programmable gauges.
The Stack gauges are nice but they are also $$$ and it'd be hard to justify it for a track car that won't see too much street driving.
For now, it looks like I'll just have to note where on the gauge I get full (it looks to be somewhere past the half mark) and empty (buried past the full mark)...
It's ghetto, yes, but it'll do the trick for the time being...

PS I picked the car up from a SCCA guy down by Birmingham almost a year ago. I am very jealous of the nice weather and longer track season you AL guys get. It snowed again in Chicago the other day...
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Old 03-28-2014, 11:08 AM   #4
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You could add a resistor inline with the gauge and shift the scale over so it would be a bit more useful. It would be a guess and check kind of thing on what resistor you would need. Start with a 20 ohm or so and see what that does, then just adjust from there.
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Old 03-28-2014, 02:16 PM   #5
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Great!
I hadn't thought of that.
I have to see if I have any spare resistors in my random parts bin or check radio shack.
Thanks
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Old 03-28-2014, 02:30 PM   #6
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I have an easier fix. Connect a light to the low fuel switch in the sensor. It will come on when there is 2-3 gallons left in the tank. On track, start with a full tank and refill at noon. When driving to/from the track, carry an extra 2-3 gallons in portable tanks(). If the light comes on and you aren't near a gas station, add the fuel from the portable tanks and refill at the next gas station.
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Old 01-11-2018, 10:47 AM   #7
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Did you ever get this working ivprodigy?
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Old 01-11-2018, 11:52 AM   #8
ivprodigy
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Well not in the way I had hoped.
I couldn't get the VDO gauge to read in any measurable way.
I ended up picking up the AutoMeter Programmable Fuel Level Gauge 3310 which allows you to set the E/F range manually (their pre set ranges don't match the e30)
https://www.autometer.com/2-1-16-fue...port-comp.html
I've not yet installed it. The engine is out and getting rebuilt but once it warms up I'll be putting it.
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Old 01-11-2018, 01:59 PM   #9
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Thanks! I think that one or the STACK programmable version would work well. I'm hoping to ditch my cluster completely.
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Old 01-11-2018, 02:08 PM   #10
Jean
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VDO also makes aftermarket floats/senders for their fuel level gauges as another option.
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Old 01-11-2018, 07:02 PM   #11
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Doesn't the BMW way run backwards to the usual-
as in, 90 ohms is FULL, 10 empty, if the usual way is
to have empty be 60, 0 full? (or reverse that, I forget)

It makes it a real pain to convert, as it's both upside down AND the wrong range..

t
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Old 01-12-2018, 05:47 AM   #12
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Remember there are 2 sensors wired in series on the M20 engine E30. On my track car I disconnected and the shorted the wires to each other at the driver side sensor and am only using the passenger side sensor to drive my VDO gauge. It's not perfect but works well enough to remind me if I've filled the tank.

Typical scenario for a track day - fill up the car and two 5 gallon cans on the way to the track. About 1/2 way through the 3rd session I start to get starvation on long right hand turns. Flip on 2nd fuel pump in driver side tank (a low pressure pump that transfers fuel to the passenger side). Dump a 5 gallon can in at end of session. Dump the other 5 gallon can at end of 4th session if I get more track time (see Open Track events at Trackdaze). Go home with ~1/3 tank of fuel. Repeat.
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Old 01-12-2018, 06:43 AM   #13
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My car only has one level sender, but I do know that the sensor works in reverse (0 when full). I don't know if that would trip up those programmable gauges or not.
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Old 01-12-2018, 08:54 AM   #14
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VDO sells both 0-90 and 90-0 fuel level gauges
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Old 01-13-2018, 10:48 AM   #15
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Plastic bumpered cars have 2, aluminum have one, approximately.
If you have a pipe between the 2 sides of the tank, under the driveshaft,
there's only one sender.

The gauge changes, the value of the sensor does not, as in,
the 2 senders are wired in series. So a 2 sender car reads 120- 0, and the 1 sender
car reads 60- 0.

Makes dash- swapping interesting, among other things.

t
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