Trip Odometer Is Greater Than Existing Trip (Explained)

You probably already know what your odometer is for as you already are aware that it keeps track of the total miles that your car has driven ever since you first drove it.

Then there is the trip odometer or the trip meter, which has a similar but somewhat different purpose.

But you might notice sooner or later that your trip meter actually has a greater value than the actual trip itself.

Why does trip odometer sometimes has greater values than your existing trip?

The value on the trip odometer can be greater than your existing trip precisely because you didn’t reset the trip odometer. As such, you will notice that it is showing a higher value due to how it was never reset from your last trip. That’s why it is important to reset the trip meter whenever you can.

Trip meter Odometer

Your trip odometer can be just as useful as your actual odometer because of how it gives you an idea of how far every trip you take is.

That said, it will give you a short-term view of how much gas you are going to be needing and how long a trip will take.

This is why you have to make sure that you are actually resetting the trip odometer after every trip so that you won’t end up getting confused.

Differences between trip odometer and odometer

When it comes to most of the cars that we see today, there are a lot of things that we need to consider regarding the instrument cluster because there are now plenty of instruments that are quite useful.

We already know the odometer and how this traditional instrument is useful for telling us the mileage of the vehicle as it gives you an idea of the total miles it has been driven.

Then there is also the trip odometer or simply the trip meter.

But what makes the trip meter different from the odometer?

The trip meter actually uses the same mechanics as the odometer in the sense that it relies on the car’s Electronic Control Unit (ECU) and the same values that the odometer uses whenever it keeps track of the total distance driven by the vehicle.

However, the trip meter has a slightly different purpose compared to the odometer.

Of course, the trip meter can actually be reset unlike the odometer, which should not be reset or tampered with.

Instead of actually keeping track of the entire distance driven by the car, the trip meter bases its values on the distance you have driven in certain trips.

Most trip meters come with Trip A and Trip B, which you can use for a lot of different purposes but they are usually just the same.

Using the trip meter, you can use either Trip A or Trip B as a basis for the length of the trip that you took because this can be very important whenever you are keeping track of the distances you have driven with respect to the gas expenses you might end up incurring. 

For example, you can use Trip A to keep track of how many miles you drive on a daily basis whenever you are driving to work and when you run your usual errands. You can just simply reset Trip A at the end of the day.

Meanwhile, you can use Trip B as the basis for how long each full tank or each refuel lasts as the car keeps track of the miles you have driven per reset.

That means that you can reset Trip B whenever you refuel so that you will have a good idea of how long you need to drive before you need to refuel the tank again.

That said, the trip meter is more of a short-term instrument that you use to measure short-term distances instead of the overall distance that your car has driven.

This is exactly the reason why the trip odometer can be reset, which is something that you shouldn’t be doing with the odometer.

Read more on Odometer vs Trip meter.

Why is the trip odometer greater than the existing trip?

So, again, the trip odometer is sort of like the odometer but it keeps track of every trip you take before you reset the trip odometer for another trip.

That means that you may already have a vague idea of how many miles you actually drive per trip whenever you are driving to your usual destinations such as work.

As such, you may be wondering why the trip odometer may actually be showing a value that is greater than the existing trip.

For example, if you know that you need to drive 20 miles to work per day, you may be wondering why the trip meter is showing 25 miles even if you are still halfway through the usual distance that you drive to work on a daily basis.

Well, the simple answer to that is that you probably actually forgot to reset the trip meter from the last time you used it.

You may have used your car last night to grab a quick bite to eat. Or maybe your wife used the car to buy something in the store the previous day.

Most likely, you or whoever used the car the last time forgot to reset the trip odometer, and that is why the miles that it recorded the last time you used it accumulates with the current trip that you are taking.

While this isn’t really too much of an issue for a lot of people, it can be a problem if you are actually strict when it comes to recording the miles you drive on a regular basis because this can mess your records up especially when every mile counts.

As such, it is important that you always rest your trip meter after every trip.

Is it possible for the trip meter to be greater than the odometer?

There is also a chance where your trip odometer can actually be greater than the odometer itself.

And this usually happens for new cars that have just been brought home all the way from the dealership.

So, why is it even possible for the trip meter to be greater than the odometer?

The simple answer to that is that the car was actually driven by someone before it was delivered to you. It is not rare for brand new cars to be driven for test driving purposes or whenever they are brought to the dealership. Then, from there, the dealership would reset the odometer back to zero.

However, it is possible that the dealership forgot to reset the trip meter back to zero as well.

In such a case, you might notice that your trip meter actually has more miles in it when you first used it in your car when compared to the odometer.

This can only be explained by how the dealership reset the odometer to zero but forgot to do the same to the trip meter.

And that is why the trip meter is still showing the same miles from the last time it was used when it was probably delivered to the car dealership or when it was test-driven.


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