a jeep wrangler jk crossing a rocky desert trail
summit racing oil pressure gauge
summit racing voltmeter guage
a 2 cup dash mount gauge pod
man fitting a gauge pod to a dash of a jeep jk wrangler
oil pressure switch location in a jeep wrangler jk
man working on laptop in automotive shop
man holding oil pressure line for a gauge
a jumble of wires inside a modern car engine bay
jeep wrangler jk dash with instrument cluster removed
a pair of summit racing oil pressure and voltmeter gauges installed

The trails of northwestern Arizona are difficult enough without having to worry about low oil pressure or a dying battery. Idiot lights only alert you after something has already happened. That’s why I had the experts at Swanty’s Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep install new Summit Racing gauges to monitor oil pressure and voltage in my Jeep.

This is Summit Racing’s 2 1/16-inch oil pressure gauge. The full-sweep electric gauge reads from 0 to 100 psi and has numbers that turn blue when illuminated at night—pretty cool. Summit Racing even includes the sending unit and mounting hardware.

The matching Summit Racing voltmeter reads from 8 to 18 volts. You can get matching gauges for water temperature and fuel level as well.

The Summit Racing two-gauge pod is made of high-impact plastic with a black carbon fiber finish that looks good with the modern JK dash. It mounts with three countersunk screws.

Jeep tech Jonathon Thames trial-fits the gauge pod. You’ll have to remove the dash cover in order to mount the gauges. You may also have to remove the instrument cluster below the cover to access the wiring.

The factory oil pressure switch is located below these hoses on the passenger-side front corner of the V6 (behind the belt tensioner). It’s hard to find, tough to see, and even harder to remove—a special dealer-only oil pressure switch socket is required. To make things even more fun, you might want to access the switch through the fender like Thames did.

Since this was the first time he had installed auxiliary gauges in a JK, Thames kept a laptop available for reference and installation instructions.

We decided to reuse the OEM oil pressure switch in case the JK’s computer threw a code if it couldn’t detect the switch. We used an Auto Meter braided line kit (ATM-3227) to remotely locate the OEM switch and the sender for the Summit Racing oil pressure gauge.

Thames used a T-fitting to connect the OEM pressure switch and the gauge sender. The braided line was too long, so we secured the extra line to prevent leakage due to vehicle bounce and vibration on the trail.

With the cover and instrument cluster removed, Thames could access the wiring harness and feed in the gauge wiring. Each gauge requires a separate ground directly to the engine or frame, but you can gang the grounds for the gauge lighting.

Once installed, the gauges clear the steering wheel without obscuring the driver’s view ahead. A quick flick of the eyes lets you monitor oil pressure and voltage at a glance. It’s big improvement over little colored warning lights.

Jeep builds JK Wranglers with engine temperature and fuel level gauges, but provides warning lights—the infamous idiot lights—for oil pressure and battery voltage. Even back in the good old days of AMC, an oil pressure gauge or a voltmeter were optional equipment on Jeep CJs.

The problem with idiot lights is they only pop on when something goes wrong. You can’t monitor engine functions and know something is wrong until the damage has been done. That spells big trouble on the trail.

For the past seven years I’ve been worrying about what was going on with the 3.8L V6 under the hood of my 2007 Jeep Rubicon Unlimited. Then I found that Summit Racing offers 2 1/16- inch diameter gauges in addition to its line of larger 2 5/8-inch gauges. The larger gauges are ideal for a CJ because it bounces around a lot and driver sits pretty far from the dash. But a JK (especially the four-door) bounces much less than a CJ, and the driver sits closer to the dash. That means the smaller Summit Racing gauges will work great in JK.

I chose Summit Racing’s oil pressure gauge, voltmeter, and two-gauge pod. Both gauges include mounting hardware, wiring, and connectors. The oil pressure gauge kit includes a sender.

Finding space for auxiliary gauges in a JK’s cockpit is difficult due to the dashboard design. The top center of the dash above the entertainment system would be the logical spot, but I already have a Garmin GPS receiver mounted there. Mounting the gauges on the windshield A-pillar would have worked as well, but I couldn’t find a gauge pod for that type of installation. I settled on the dash area above the instrument cluster, in front of the steering wheel. If you don’t have a GPS unit and want a three-gauge pod, the center of the dash is an excellent location. That allows you to add an additional temperature gauge for engine oil, transmission fluid, or differential oil.

My local Jeep dealership (Swanty’s Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep in Bullhead City, AZ) did the gauge installation. If you decide to install them yourself, you’ll need a special tool to remove the OEM oil pressure switch, available from your local Jeep dealer.

With my new Summit Racing gauges in place, I now know my 3.8L is pumping more than 50 psi of oil pressure and putting 14-plus volts to the battery at highway speeds.

That peace of mind is well worth the effort.

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Author: Jim Brightly

A former editor of Truckin’ and Trailer Life magazines, and tech editor of Four Wheeler, Petersen’s 4-Wheel & Off-Road, and Family Motor Coaching magazines, Jim Brightly is now a semi-retired photojournalist living, writing, and wheeling in northern Arizona. He’s been building and wheeling Jeeps for more than fifty years.