What Happens If You Go Over The Speedometer? (Explained)

We all know that the speedometer is there to make sure that you know what speeds you are driving at, and that can be a great thing for those who want to keep themselves within safe driving speeds.

Then again, there are some people out there who want to test the limits of their vehicles and are looking to try to go past the highest point on their speedometers for one reason or another.

So, what happens if you do go over the speedometer?

Nothing happens if your actual speed goes over what the speedometer’s max speed indicates. The speedometer pointer will only stay on the max point and will go down once you decelerate. This is because the speedometer is only there to indicate how fast you are going and is not going to limit your speed.

It is interesting to note that, while there is nothing that will happen to your speedometer if you do go over the speedometer’s limits, there are actually safety measures put in place to make sure that you don’t go over the speedometer’s speed limits.

As such, this is something that we are here to talk more about.

Can you go faster than your speedometer?

One of the most important instruments on the dashboard of your car is your speedometer. That’s because the main purpose of the speedometer is to keep your car’s speed in check as you will always be aware of how fast you are going.

This is a self-regulating safety measure that will allow you to be aware of your car’s numerical speed so that you can slow down a bit if you are already driving too fast to the detriment of the safety of yourself and of others.

That said, there are still some people who, for some reason, actually want to go fast in their cars.

This can be attributed to their status as amateur racers or street racers who may want to try to drive as fast as they can.

Of course, there are also highways that may allow you to push your car’s maximum speed to the limits especially if there are no speed limits on such a highway.

Then again, we did say that the speedometer allows you to self-regulate your speed.

But what happens if you do indeed try to go as fast as you can to the point that you may want to go over your speedometer’s maximum speed? Is it even possible to go faster than what your speedometer indicates?

If you are driving a stock car, then that means that it is impossible for you to drive faster than what your speedometer indicates unless you are driving an older 70s or 80s car with a max speed of 85 mph.

So, let’s talk a bit of history first before we try to answer the question in a more explanatory manner. 

Back in the 70s, there was a point where car manufacturers had speedometers that maxed out at 85 mph.

Of course, cars at that time were already capable of going over 85 mph regardless of what their speedometers said. But the limits on the speedometers were only imposed to deter people from trying to go over 85 mph because they may be thinking that this is the max speed that their cars can reach regardless of how fast their cars truly are. 

History would tell us that this strategy didn’t work because people were well aware that their cars could go over the limit of their speedometers, and that tells us that cars made decades ago were indeed capable of going past what their speedometers say.

However, today, most cars are actually made with speedometers that have about 20 mph in excess of what the car can actually reach. That means that some cars have speedometers that have max speeds of 140 or 160 mph even though the car’s capabilities won’t even allow it to reach such speeds.

So, to answer the question, today’s cars are not capable of going over the limits of their speedometers because the speedometers are made to actually be in excess of the mechanical limits of the cars themselves. For example, if the car can only realistically reach 120 mph, the speedometer’s max will be 140 mph. And the reason why the 20-mph excess is imposed is to make the car more marketable as some people may think that the car is actually pretty fast.

Then again, we are only talking about stock cars here. That’s because, if you are talking about a car that has been heavily modified to the point that none of its inner components already resemble the ones that it came with when you bought it, that means that there is a chance that it can go over the speedometer’s limits even though the gauge was made to have a 20-mph excess over the stock car’s limits.

What happens if you go past the speedometer?

So, now that we know that today’s cars are not realistically capable of going past the speedometer but can still do so if heavily modified, what happens if your car actually goes fast enough to the point that you are now driving beyond the mechanical limits of the speedometer?

Well, nothing happens. This is similar to what happened during the 70s when older cars were made to have a max of 85 mph on their speedometers even though they can mechanically reach higher speeds.

The needle pointer of the speedometer will only stay at the max point, which is usually 140 or 160 mph. So, if you do drive beyond 140 or 160 mph, the needle will only stay there and will not move unless you decelerate.

The reason why nothing happens is that the speedometer gauge is only there as a means of knowing how fast you are going but it is not there to physically limit the speed of your car.

Your speedometer’s limits and your car’s mechanical capabilities of reaching higher speeds are not related to one another. 

It’s like trying to measure a yard with a meter stick. Even though the yard is more than the meter, nothing happens to the meter stick if you measure a yard using it.

You will only end up reaching the maximum point of the meter stick without it fully showing how long a yard is.

Is it bad to max out your speedometer?

All that said, there is nothing bad that will happen to your car if you max out your speedometer because, again, your speedometer is only there to measure the speed of your car and will not mechanically and physically limit your car’s speed.

Of course, you will never be able to max your speedometer out unless your car is mechanically made to be able to do so.

That means that the only possible way for you to max out your speedometer is if your car was modified to be able to do so.

So, as long as you know that the parts and the components of your car were made to handle such high speeds, then there is nothing to worry about if you do go over your car’s speedometer limits.

Sources

Business Insider: Why speedometers go to 140 or 160 mph, even if cars can’t drive that fast

SpeedHut: What happens if you exceed the maximum speed of the speedometer?

The Truth About Cars: Don’t Drive Faster Than Your Speedometer Will Go

Quora: What happens when you pass the highest point on your speedometer