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Why does the speedometer stop at 85 mph on a 1988 Ford Thunderbird LX?

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βˆ™ 2009-09-30 14:28:24

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In 1979 the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) passed a law that limited speedometers to 85 MPH. The same law also required emphasis (larger, bold font) on 55 MPH (the Federal speed limit enacted in '73). Unsure when the speedometer law was repealed, but max speed remained 55 until 1988 when it was upped to 65 (where it stands today).

Though the speed indicator (analog or digital) pegs at 85, there is no mechanism on the car to prevent you from going faster than 85 - you CAN go faster than 85, it just won't tell you how fast you're going.

You can get aftermarket speedometers that will display speeds above 85.

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