DIY: Engine Monitoring


Words & Images Michael Harber

Having done a fair amount of research about the MadMan EMS (Engine Monitoring System) and having especially discussed its merits with others who use it, I ordered one to be fitted before the December holidays − I’d planned two long-drive holidays, and was eager to test the system.

I was off to the Wild Coast in mid-December, and to the Mabuasehube area, which is on the Botswana side of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, in early January. These two trips would be the ideal opportunity to learn how the Madman system works on my 3.2 diesel Pajero, as well as to experiment on how various driving styles affect my engine.

Remembering the mantra, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure and you mustn’t measure what you don’t understand,” I was looking forward to learning more about my trusty old diesel.

For those not familiar with engine management systems like the Madman EMS, they are designed to measure various key engine performance indicators, most notably exhaust gas temperature (EGT), coolant temperature, and oil pressure – although this varies from one EMS model and brand to the next.

These were the three measurements I was most interested in; and, after looking into the options on the market, I decided to fit the slightly more expensive but highly recommended Madman EMS2 unit. The EMS2 has the ability to measure the following:
• Exhaust gas temperature (in degrees C)
• Coolant temperature (in degrees C)
• Oil pressure (in bars)
• Engine running hours (with a service timer capability)
• Coolant level (via an alarm) and
• Battery voltage.

You might well ask, “Can’t I measure most of those without the EMS system?” Well, not really. The factory temperature gauge is notoriously temperamental and
its indicator is a rather imprecise needle gauge, while the Madman sensor provides an accurate LED readout measure in degrees Celsius. Yes, I may have a lowoil-
pressure light on the dashboard, but the Madman sensor will provide me with an accurate pressure reading in bars. If I’m slowly losing oil, I can discover this from a
noticeable drop in the operating oil pressure, rather than waiting for the low-pressure light to come on. Each of the above metrics can also be easily switched on or off, and most have the ability to set floor- and ceiling alarm set points, which result in a loud beep if the parameters are breached.

According to the supplier, who was very helpful in aiding my understanding of the unit and its benefits, the system can be DIY installed, or installed by approved fitment centres around the country. However, there was no way I was going to install the unit myself − my ability with a toolbox leaves much to be desired.

Installation includes the fitting of the sensors in various locations: the oil pressure sensor is fitted with the factory sensor (usually near the oil filter), the coolant
temperature sensor is fitted on the radiator inlet hose, and the EGT sensor is screwed into the exhaust manifold.

I was very happy with the service provided by the fitment centre in Cape Town, which needed just one day to fit and test the system. It cost a bit more to have
the professionals handle the fitment, but there was no mess and no fuss; with their professional service and my peace of mind, it was well worth the money.

Here are some simple examples of ways in which the system has helped me in the relatively short time I’ve been using it.

I left on my trip to the Wild Coast immediately after the car had been serviced. Apparently the mechanic had left the expansion tank (coolant bottle) off
its securing bracket, so it was loose and bouncing around; or it possibly became loose during the trip.

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