When I got my N54 and decided to tune it, one of the first things I needed was a boost gauge. Since the N54 meters pre throttle body, it becomes that much more important to know real boost values. I wanted an integrated setup that didn't look like a pod sitting on my dash at the time and the P3 (originally RiX vent gauge) was a perfect fit. It was sleek, OEM, and very stealthy. When I heard P3 was coming out with a version 2 of the gauge, I was immediately interested.
The version 2 of the P3 Vent Gauge took the style from the first gauge and increased the functionality and resolution. The boost/vacuum has better resolution than the prior v.1 versions. In the same manner tunes evolved, the P3 v.2 now uses CAN data and displays it for the user. Things like EGT, RPMS, shift light, throttle, ignition advance, etc. can all be displayed now as easily as boost. The P3 v.2 allows you to record up to 15 seconds of data which can be nice to seeing things like real boost values for long pulls. The new gauge will even do 0-60 mph time calculations… a really nice addition! P3 added three (1 dimmer & two aux) analog inputs to allow you to display things like methanol flow, AFR data, EGT data, etc. from any aftermarket sensor. For me to see boost and methanol at the same time is a huge addition to the gauge and the methanol flow display is user configurable. In addition, the new gauge is about 30% brighter than the version 1 P3 Vent Gauge. I felt this could consolidate my needs for gauges in a few areas, so I jumped and decided to get the P3 Vent Gauge v.2.
One note, P3 is now offering a fully assembled version of the vent gauge, to make installation even easier. I thought this was a brilliant idea, so I went for this option.
This review will focus on:
- My Experience With P3
- Shipping / Tracking / Packaging
- Product Details
- DIY / Installation Info
- Results / Finished Photos & HD Video
Experience with P3 / Shipping
If anyone has talked to Rick from P3, you know he is BMW enthusiast that originally made himself a dash gauge and figured a way to make it into a business. His innovative approach to increasing the functionality of the P3 gauge is awesome. He had a winner with the v.1, so I was shocked to hear that a v.2 was going to be created. P3 has offered friendly customer service with up front info throughout the process. Some delays did occur along the way, but P3 informed me of the delays and gave me a realistic ETA on the gauge.
Shipping was great on the item and I was notified when the package shipped via USPS priority mail. Since it was priority mail USPS, I knew I would have it within 3 days of the shipping date. Packaging on the P3 v.1 gauge was great, and this was no exception.
Everything is individually packaged and protected.
Boost tubing and BMW "T" splitter.
P3 Vent Gauge v.2 wiring harness and integrated boost pressure sensor.
Low profile OBDII plug to keep all wires stealthy on the gauge. This is a really nice touch and was a must in my opinion.
Finally the brains and display of the operation. The control box can be seen as the small black box in this picture. Notice the fully assembled gauge and vent.
The P3 Vent Gauge v.2 was shipped and packaged very well. The items arrived to me in perfect condition and well organized. Now it is time for the install.
Installation / DIY
As with any installation, you take full responsibility for any damage you do to your car. Remember to use proper safety where necessary.
Since I was upgrading from the v.1 to v.2, the installation was about as easy at it gets. The kit did not come with instructions as I was one of the early orders, but this DIY should supplement any installation guide necessary. The boost tubing didn't need to be re-run through the firewall, so this is a very quick install. If you are upgrading from the v.1, just remove the un-necessary wiring harness from the ash tray after completing the installation as you will no longer need it since this v.2 is totally powered from the OBDII port.
The installation begins by removing the entire vent from the car. This is held on by pressure clips, so you just need to pry the vent/trim away from the dash. This can be easily accomplished with a large flat head screw driver and a microfiber towel to protect both items.
Once you have enough spacing to get your finger in there, just continue to pray the part away from the dash alternating pressure on the side facing the door and the side facing the steering wheel until it comes free.
In the image below, you can see the two blue arrows point to the mount points on the vent and the red arrows indicate the friction clips on the dash.
At this point, simply unplug the gauge, remove the boost tubing from the gauge, and remove the v.1 wiring harness from the car.
Now, it is time to move onto the installation of the new gauge. The first thing to do is remove the old vent from the dash trim. The job starts when you use a flat head screw driver to open the locking clips on the steering wheel side of the vent/trim.
That will start the release process. Next release the locking tabs on the top and bottom of the gauge applying slight pressure as you pull the vent away from the trim.
Finally remove the vent from the trim, noting the slats that guide the vent onto the trim for re-installation.
Now, reverse the process and install the new vent. It should look like this.
With the new vent assembled on the trim, it is time to move onto the actual installation of the P3 Vent Gauge into the car. Let's start with the OBDII cable. This is an easy installation, since it is a low profile plug. I didn't have to remove the kick panel to do this portion of the install, but I did lower the footwell panel to make access easier. The footwell panel is held on by 3 torx t-25 screws that you will need to remove.
With full access to the footwell, you will have more room to operate as you snake the OBDII cable. Now lets open the OBDII door and remove it. I snaked the cable through the kick panel into the foot well.
With the cable run, I then simply plugged in the OBDII cable.
When I attempted to reinstall the OBDII door, it would not sit flush. I noticed a few parts of the flimsy plastic framing on the back of the door interfering with the plug and just cut them off with wire cutters. The areas I removed are noted with the blue arrows.
Next, I ran the OBDII cable up to the vent location and connected it to the wire harness.
With the OBDII port out of the way, I connected the boost line to the boost pressure sensor on the harness and secured it on each side with a zip tie.
Finally, I connected the wire harness to the control module.
If you choose to use the dimming function on the gauge, it includes a simple wire tap that you can run to the trunk pop button near the OBDII gauge. Since I don't like dimmers, I left that wire coiled.
If you are not using any of the analog inputs (Methanol Flow, EGT, Wideband O2, etc.), then you are almost done. Simply plug the gauge into the black box and it is time to re-install the vent. I tucked the control box and extra wiring on the left side in the vent area. You can see the area I am point to below.
From here, just press fit the gauge back into place and you are done. This is a simple, simple installation.
Note, if you are using analog inputs, just simply wire up things as needed. The brown wire is the methanol wire and the blue is wire is your other input. I will use the blue wire for AFR display. Use blade clips to attach to the P3 wire harness from your analog source and you are done.
Really, it is that easy. Once you press the gauge back into place and return the OBDII door, it should look as good as it did stock. When P3 says this is a simple PNP, they are not lying.
Results / Functionality
The P3 gauge has a lot of great features and looking fully OEM is one it's really strong characteristics.
At night, the P3 Vent Gauge v.2 looks awesome and again fully OEM.
It matches my nitrous toys well too.
From a funcationality standpoint, the gauge is really top shelf. I wanted to show an HD video to demo a number of the features of the P3 gauge. First, let's look at an HD video of the menu screens on the P3 Gauge.
Now, let's look at the record feature. This is really a very cool feature on the new P3 Vent gauge. Basically it will record the last 15 seconds after you hit the peak recall button. For reference, you can hear when I let off the gas and hit the playback button on the gauge.
Finally, let's look at the full range of items you can now view through the CAN with the P3 v.2 gauge. Intake air temperatures, EGTs, coolant temps, throttle, ignition advance, rpms, 0-60 rpms, etc. can all now be viewed.
I didn't want to confuse the average user too much, so I will write up a seperate review on the analog inputs in the coming days for AFR / EGT / Methanol Flow.
P3 was a pleasure to deal with through the buying process. There were some delays, but I think P3 was honest through the process. Sometimes delays happen and they are not caused by the vendor. Honesty is most important to me and I feel P3 did not let me down here. Their packaging is great and the item arrived to me in perfect condition.
The P3 Vent Gauge v.2 is really as true of a PNP gauge as possible, especially if you order the pre-assembled option. The instructions were not available at the time of my installation, but should be available to everyone soon. The quality of the parts is very high. The smoke plastic looks OEM. The display is sharp and a perfect OEM match. The PNP low-profile OBDII plug fits behind the door with the small shaving I listed above, but again does require some snips. The functionality of this gauge is a step up from what was the best BMW gauge on the market. The boost gauge resolution is now better and it is noticeable. The new CAN data is smooth and offers considerable supplementation to our BMW gauges. Things like coolant temp that should have come with the car are now included. The 0-60 mph timer will be a fun toy to use in the coming days. Code reading/clearing will be a big plus for the flash tunes on the market too. The methanol flow and analog inputs are going to be huge for those of us that want the advanced features. To be honest, the methanol flow really makes this worth it alone.
P3 hit it out of the park with their v.1 gauge, and the new P3 Vent Gauge v.2 out does the original. It is rare that you can beat a great product with revisions, but P3 successfully accomplished that task. I think monitoring what your engine is doing is the beginning of modifying your car, not the end. Holding to that philosophy, this should be your first purchase when modding your car not your last.
I wouldn't hesitate for a fraction of a second to purchase a thing from P3 in the future.