Does The Odometer Have Decimals? (Explained)

When you look at your odometer, you will surely see numbers or digits recorded on that instrument as the odometer is there to record the vehicle’s total mileage regardless of whether we are talking about a mechanical odometer or a digital odometer

But, in relation to these digits, you would surely know that distance is not something concrete in terms of miles because vehicles don’t always travel in full miles.

So, does the odometer have decimals or does the odometer show a fraction of a mile?

The odometer does not have decimals as it will only show full miles for your vehicle’s mileage. This is true for all types of odometers regardless of whether you are talking about mechanical or digital odometers. However, some cars are able to record miles in decimals but will reflect them in the trip meter instead.

Odometer Decimals

Because of the way odometers are designed, these instruments cannot display decimals.

This is especially true in mechanical odometers that run on spinning gears.

As such, when it comes to decimals or fractions, you can be sure that your odometer will not show them as the odometer will only show full digits when it comes to recording your vehicle’s mileage.

But this shouldn’t be a problem because there is no requirement that decimals should be included in your car’s mileage.

Does the odometer have decimals?

You probably already know what the odometer on your instrument cluster is there for.

This is basically an instrument that was made to record the total accumulated miles of a vehicle.

And this mileage becomes important when you are about to sell your vehicle because the value of the car is based largely on the total miles it has driven.

So, in that case, you have to look at the digits on the odometer to know the car’s mileage. 

But, then again, it is common knowledge that cars don’t jump from one mile to another when they are moving.

Vehicles move in distance or increments of a mile until they are able to complete a full mile.

Essentially speaking, there will be times when the car doesn’t even complete a full mile.

As such, does the odometer display the decimals or fractions of a mile?

At this point, it is highly likely that you already know the answer to that question.

The odometer does not display decimals or fractions and will only show full digits. That means that the odometer will only move once your vehicle has completed a full mile as anything under a mile will not be recorded on the odometer. This holds true for both mechanical and digital odometers.

Mechanical odometers are no-brainers when it comes to whether or not they can show decimals.

That’s because mechanical odometers are basically slaves to the analog mechanism that controls.

And this analog mechanism was not made to have decimals included.

As such, each spinning numbered gear on the mechanical odometer will only move once the car has reached a full mile.

On the other hand, even though digital odometers should theoretically be able to show decimals, they still do not do so.

That’s because it is easier to keep track of mileage when the odometer will only move once the vehicle has driven a full mile.

Then again, there are also cars that are capable of showing single-digit decimals in their odometers.

But that tends to be a rarity as most odometers will only show full digits and will not show decimals or fractions in their readings.

However, cars with digital odometers may be able to see the decimals or the fractions in another way.

Trip meters are there to show you a reading that includes the decimals in case the trip you had includes a fraction of a mile. So, if you drove 3.7 miles today, that will be shown in the trip meter and not on the odometer – find the difference between the odometer and trip meter in this article.

The reason why trip meters show decimals is due to the fact that people use trip meters to have an exact knowledge of how far they have driven during a certain trip.

That’s because there is a big difference between 3.5 miles and 3 or 4 miles when the trip meter will simply round off to the nearest digit.

As such, because trip meters are required to have an exact record of the distance traveled during a trip, it is important for them to show decimals.

So, if you have a car that runs on a digital instrument cluster, you can look at the trip meter instead of the odometer if you want a good estimation of how far you have driven during a certain trip.

You can even use the trip meter as your odometer by not resetting an entire trip from the moment you first drove the car until the final reading of the odometer.

That way, the trip meter will even show decimals even though these decimals are not required in the final reading of your odometer before transferring the vehicle to another owner.

How many digits are shown on the odometer?

Now that you know that odometers do not show decimals and are only capable of showing full digits, how many digits are shown on most odometers?

Well, for starters, it also depends on whether you are talking about a mechanical odometer or a digital odometer.

Mechanical odometers tend to be very limited in terms of the number of miles they can show.

Traditionally, these odometers could only show up to 5 digits. That’s why there are older odometers that are only capable of reaching 99,999 miles and will eventually exceed the total miles that can be recorded by the odometer, resetting the count to 00,000 miles and starting all over again.

However, that has since been changed to 6 digits or a maximum of 999,999.

Meanwhile, digital odometers are capable of displaying 6 digits and can reach 999,999 miles at the maximum.

That’s because newer vehicles are capable of being driven longer miles and now normally go for more than 100,000 miles on a regular basis.

Can you make your odometer show decimals or fractions of a mile?

Sadly, there is no way for you to make your odometer show decimals or fractions of a mile when the odometer was specifically designed to only show full digits.

This isn’t something that you can change.

However, in case you are using a digital odometer with a trip meter, you can see the decimals on the trip meter instead of the odometer.

But, if you don’t have a digital trip meter, you won’t be able to see the decimals or the fractions of a mile that your has vehicle traveled.

Sources How many digits can the odometer display

Element owners club: How many digits are on the odometer

Quora: How many digits and decimals do a consumer vehicle odometer have

Cruze Talk: Option for the odometer to show a fraction of a mile