Inclinometers, also known as tilt gauges, horizon gauges, land meters, pitch-and-roll gauges... do you know what I’m talking about yet? These little dongles ostensibly warn you when a car’s about to roll over. In reality, they rarely work. But they’re really fun and it is my pleasure to explain why.
Some modern 4x4s (Ford Raptor; Jeep Wrangler; Land Rover Defender; maybe others) have digital inclinometers you can call up on their information screens. These might be more accurate than analog level gauges, but they’re nowhere near as cool-looking.
The physical tilt-and-roll gauges, with little moving vehicle icons, that some old Toyota 4Runner and Tercel (yep!) 4WDs had made the interior of those vehicles look adventurous and exciting. Same goes for the single-bobble inclinometers you might find in a Mitsubishi Montero or Delica off-road van.
By 1998, when my Mitsubishi 4x4 was made, the company had moved away from factory inclinometers. This, friends, sent me on a quest to figure out the best way to retrofit one into my sport utility vehicle.
Luckily for me, and you, there are a whole bunch of aftermarket inclinometers for sale online. Even luckier for all of us–I managed to convince my boss to let me expense a haul of them so I could share them with you in the video above.
Check it out, you’re not going to get a better comparison test of cheap and frivolous automotive accessories anywhere!
If you do get hooked on these silly things as I have, one important thing to consider: Many of these are available from many different vendors, even within Amazon.com’s marketplace, and the pricing on them varies a lot for some reason.
I’ll link to the exact items I purchased for the video below, but even since shooting the clip I see that some of the prices have changed. Point is: poke around for comps before you click “buy!”
Since none of these have reasonably short names, I’ll make some up.
One of the cooler looking aftermarket inclinometers, but deeply unsatisfying to operate. Gets “stuck” often. Still, you might not really care if this one fits into your interior the best.
Not particularly elegant, but decently responsive. Pretty small.
Smooth motion, good build quality! Weird icon, though. If you hate the JK Unlimited that’s on there, you could get some stickers printed up, dismantle the thing, and stick your own car on the tilty wheels.The Land Meter
My favorite for sure. Multi-layered display gives it some depth, nice smooth action, easy to dismantle and modify. OK to poor build quality; the little red “endpoint” indicators fell off as I took it out of the packaging. Of course I lost one so I had to just get rid of all of them.
Far and away the most accurate-seeming, Sun Company’s products actually look and feel to have been made for serious measuring rather than just entertainment. The only real downside is that it doesn’t look very cool.