This is a totally non negotiable item on any vehicle, new or old if you want to go the moon or wherever in between, on your own. The features that an engine monitoring system offers, are in fact features that should have been provided on any vehicle as standard, but it is not. An EMS system monitors engine temperature, oil pressure, water level, alternator voltage and sometimes it has one other input for anything else you want to monitor. The good ones measures EGT as well. The simple ones have pre set limits and on the better ones limits can be custom defined in order to give audible warning and even cut the motor if any values goes out of range.

The value of these devices cannot be over emphasized and the cost of it should not be of the slightest consideration. Do it yesterday.

On my Nissan Safari, I used a simple device called the “Little Black Box” and I connected up everything apart from the oil pressure switch. And guess what happened? Due to an unfortunate event of miscommunication between me and the garden worker, the oil was drained from the motor and I took it for a test drive. The oil pressure warning was not connected and I had the motor minced up in 5 km.

When I got the Discovery, I bought the Madman EMS developed by Brian Cotton from Landyonline and the unit can be shipped with a number of kits that supplies fittings for other brands like Toyota, Isuzu or Ford for example.

For R 3 000, this was the best investment I ever made. It measures EGT, engine temperature, transfer case temperature, water level, oil pressure and alternator voltage. It saved the motor twice. Once the Landy broke a fanbelt exactly halfway between Ceres and Sutherland because of a seized tensioner pulley bearing. The warning was immediate and engine temperature did not even had a change to rise before I could stop. It took me some innovation to get the Disco going with what I had in my toolbox that day, but we made it to Sutherland in good health.

The other time, I lost the engine oil on Nieu Bethesda when the nut of the engine oil cooler pipe somehow cracked loose on the high pressure side of the oil filter. Once again I had immediate warning the moment the oil pressure dropped and this time the motor was saved and as with the previous time of the fanbelt, I got away with zero damage.

I would highly recommend the Madman EMS as it is only slightly more expensive than the “Little Black Box” these days and it is fully configurable with exact readouts of all values. The “Little Black Box” only offers LED lights for all functions and cannot measure EGT.

EGT or Exhaust Gas Temperature is a value only measured on diesel vehicles. Because EGT is often little understood, it I discussed in length elsewhere in this book.