Mourning the Loss of Mechanical Odometers

I miss the old fashioned mechanical odometers.   I had one in every car I’d ever owned before now.  Alas, it seems as if everything is going digital nowadays.

It was always great fun watching the numbers slowly and sequentially roll over from right to left – especially when all those nines changed to zeros as  you reached significant mileage milestones like multiples of 10,000 miles.

I always eagerly anticipated those rollovers.  Hey, what can I say – I am easily amused!   I would start looking forward to  the big event when there were less than 100 miles to go, checking the progress daily and trying to guess when it would happen.

Some times I missed the transition;  usually because I was distracted by traffic conditions.  What a bummer – to check the odometer and have it show something like 40000.7 and I would realize that I would have to wait another 10,000 miles!

One of the most exciting (and dangerous) transitions I can recall occurred years ago while I was traveling through the mountains in Pennsylvania.  I was on a winding two lane road in the outside lane, with only a flimsy looking guardrail separating me from oblivion when the numbers started changing.  I believe I set the world record for rapid up and down eye movement.

Sad, but true – I am still waiting for maturity to kick in!



Filed under Reminiscences

2 responses to “Mourning the Loss of Mechanical Odometers

  1. naturgesetz

    I still look at the digital odometer, but I’m more interested in palindromes, like 63436, than strings of zeroes. Certainly, the rollover was a fascinating part of the mechanical odometer, and better suited to the thousands and ten thousands.

    One unfortunate thing about the digital display in my Toyota is that it does not give tenths of a mile, which makes it not much use in following local directions which have to be in units much smaller than a mile. I wonder other makes have the same problem, or if newer Toyotas have remedied it.

    • Ed

      I also notice unique number combos but, for some reason, do not anticipate them as I did rollovers.

      Toyota is not the only one to drop the tenths. My Ford’s odometer displays miles only. It’s annoying and so unnecessary. Certainly providing a decimal point and another number column in a digital display is no problem. It seems to me that often change is made merely for changes’ sake.

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