Why your car’s speedometer lists speeds higher than you can legally drive

Daybreak

Why do speedometers tempt you with speeds you can't legally reach?

(WYTV) – Why does your speedometer list speeds that you legally can’t reach?

You’re zipping along I-80 at 80 miles per hour, and your speedometer said you can certainly go faster than that. Why do those speedometers tempt you?

The car company public relations people give the answer in one word: testosterone.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says there’s no reason for any car to have a speedometer listing speeds faster than, say 80 miles per hour. The fastest anywhere in America is 85 miles per hour on Texas State Highway 130.

But speed is a key strategy for marketing our cars and SUVs in this country. Car commercials never show cars crawling along, do they?

And it also makes sense for the car industry to produce a speedometer good in several countries.

They need to mass-produce standard gauges for cars all over the world and different top speeds all over the world. Ever drive the German Autobahn?

And what does a speedometer tell you about your car?

If it ended at 85 miles per hour, you’d feel like you were driving your red wagon from childhood. We expect to see 160 miles per hour; it makes even a dull car seem sporty.

That takes us back to testosterone and ego.

One more thought: some cars with high-horsepower engines can come close to the top speedometer speeds. Most are limited; their engine control computers won’t allow it because the tires can overheat and fail at higher speeds.

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