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An important aspect of automobile modification is using your car's information to see where you need to make improvements. If you want to get data on your engine's air to fuel ratio, you should look for an air-fuel gauge. But when it comes to wideband vs. narrowband air fuel gauges, you may wonder what’s different. Today we’ll help you decide which option is best for you.
Before you start looking into whether you want a wideband or narrowband, let’s discuss what an air/fuel ratio (AFR) gauge is and what it does for your car. An AFR gauge monitors the air-to-fuel ratio of your internal combustion engine. Having this information allows you to determine whether your engine is running at an optimal AF ratio. You don’t want it to be too rich, as this hurts performance and fuel economy. You also don’t want the ratio to be too lean, as that can lead to engine damage.
Narrowband air/fuel ratio gauges are great for determining whether your engine is generally running well. However, they fail to accurately show your engine AFR at different load and RPM points. When looking at what’s different between wideband and narrowband air fuel gauges, you can see that a narrowband generally boils your AFR down to lean, stoich, or rich. But it operates on such a narrow voltage signal that determining the AFR requires steady-state throttling to keep the needle from oscillating rapidly back and forth. And most narrowband gauges don’t provide an output for data logging. Because of this, these gauges are less accurate and helpful when it comes to collecting information. While a narrowband air-fuel gauge may be more cost-effective, many enthusiasts agree the results are subpar.
On the other hand, a wideband gauge uses a more extensive voltage range, allowing for more accurate and instantaneous results. This means you won’t simply know whether your AFR is rich or lean. Instead, you’ll know what the actual AFR is at any given time, under any throttle load or RPM. When combined with technology that improves response time, a quality wideband AFR gauge provides the data you need to optimize your engine’s performance.
Many wideband gauges come with controllers (in reality, most are wideband controllers with a gauge interface). This allows you to connect a gauge unit to a tuning device to make necessary adjustments throughout the tuning process for optimum performance and efficiency. While a wideband air fuel gauge is more costly than a narrowband, the more accurate AFR readings make it a favorite among serious auto enthusiasts.
If you want more information on the capabilities of wideband air fuel gauges, installation tips, and vital accessories, contact us today. We at AEM Performance Electronics have you covered.