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Dashboard Lights Not Working – What To Do?

When the lights on the dashboard of your vehicle stop working altogether, it can pose a serious threat to your safety. You should sort out a solution to this problem soon, but what do you do exactly? We have asked automobile experts and here's what they said. 

A fuse may have blown in your vehicle if the dashboard does not light up at all. First, check the dimmer switch on the dashboard to see whether it was turned down or off.

After that, check to see whether there is a blown fuse or a broken lightbulb. The lights should start operating again after the old fuse is removed and replaced with a new one.

Changing the fuse could solve the problem, but your dashboard light going off could also be an indication of a more serious electrical issue. Stay put and keep reading as we would talk about the various reasons your dashboard light can be off and how to fix it. 

Car dashboard lights, Dashboard Lights Not Working - What To Do?

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Dashboard and Dashboard Lights [ How They Work]

The dashboard of your vehicle functions as your primary source of information. It is essentially a control panel that sits in front of the driver and shows the numerous controls and instrumentation that are necessary for the operation of the vehicle. It can also be called an instrument panel (IP).

The control panel for your vehicle is located on the dashboard of your vehicle. It not only houses the instruments and controls necessary to drive the car but also gives you access to all of the relevant information that you require to drive safely.

Car dashboard with all the lights turned on

While you are driving down the road, the dashboard will offer you a variety of cautions and information that you need to pay attention to, to avoid getting into an accident. 

Reasons Why Your Dashboard Lights Are Not Working

There are so many factors that can trigger the malfunction of your dashboard lights, but here are common reasons why your dashboard lights are not working: 

Dim Lighting

In some cases, the lights might appear to be off when really they are just dim. If the lights on the dashboard are dim, there is a good chance that you can fix the problem yourself.

Check to see that the headlights aren't turned on when it's already bright outside. It is common practice for headlights to automatically dim the dashboard whenever they are turned on; hence, this could be the root of the issue.

If that doesn't solve the problem, you should look for the dimmer switch. The brightness of the dashboard lights can be changed with this switch.

It's possible that you accidentally bumped it, and as a result, the light levels are now lower than they were before.

Just make the necessary adjustments, and it should turn back on. 

Completely Dark Panel

A fuse may have blown in your vehicle if the instrument panel does not light up at all. The lights should start operating again after the old fuse is removed and replaced with a new one. Changing the fuse could solve the problem, but it could also be an indication of a more serious electrical issue.

If the new fuse does not work, you should take your vehicle to an authorized service center to have it inspected since there may be a more serious issue with the electrical system.

Part of The Panel is Dark

If you drive a relatively modern car with a dashboard that is illuminated by separate LED lights, you probably won't run into any issues with this. Incandescent lights were frequently used to illuminate the back of vehicles for the past few years.

If one of these bulbs burns out, a section of the dashboard will be without illumination. Because changing these bulbs might be difficult, it is probably best to entrust the task to a specialist who is approved by the manufacturer.

Flickering Light

If the lights on your dashboard aren't flickering and your instrument panel is, there's probably something else wrong. Either the car's battery is low or the alternator, which is responsible for charging the battery and powering the electrical systems when the vehicle is running, has developed a fault. 

How to Fix Faulty Dashboard Lights

If none of the lights on your dashboard appear to be working, the typical culprit is a blown fuse or even something as simple as a switch that has been turned off.

  • The first thing you need to do is find the knob or dial that adjusts the level of brightness of the dashboard lights.
  • Check the manual that came with the vehicle in case the control is not immediately obvious.
  • The second step is to check that the brightness control is on. If it is, but the lights are still not turning on, the problem can be a blown fuse.
  • The last step is to examine the fuses to the lights on the dashboard.

Replace the fuse if you've found it's blown. If none of these solutions resolves the issue, you should consult a professional technician.

How Do I Test My Dashboard Lights?

Car dashboard lights photographed at the drivers seat

Supplies needed: Manual, Pincers (if necessary) and fuses (if necessary)

Check Your Car's Manual

Your vehicle manual should have all the information you need about dashboard lights, including what each symbol means and how to fix certain difficulties. Read it to understand each indicator and know what to do if specific lights are triggered. If you've lost your car manual, look it up online. Most car manuals are downloadable and/or printable.

Start The Car

Insert your car key into the ignition and turn the car to "on," but not "start". Some or all of your dashboard indicator lights will illuminate when you do this.

Some car models' dashboard lights stay on until you start the engine, but others turn off after a few seconds.

These lights are easier to see at night. Check the battery in a closed garage or the shade. If not, check at dusk or night.

Brighten The Light

Sometimes the knob that controls the instrument panel lights is turned down, making it hard to see if they're on.

To improve visibility, turn up this control. Consult the vehicle handbook if you can't find this knob. If some dashboard lights don't register after you turn the switch to maximum brightness, do other checks.

Find The Panel Fuse Box

Depending on your car's make and model, the fuse box may be to the left of the steering wheel or beneath the hood. Open the fuse box and check for blown fuses. Perform these tests with the car off and the keys out.

Some fuses are cylindrical and enclosed in glass with numbered metal ends. Others are narrow rectangles with two semitransparent prongs and an amperage number. Replace blown fuse. 

How Do I Reset My Dashboard Lights?

Car mechanic plugging in an OBD scanner near the car dashboard

In most vehicles, you will just need to disconnect the negative terminal of your battery to reset the dashboard warning lights.

In most vehicles, you will need a wrench to disconnect the negative terminal. Different models require different size wrenches, so having a wrench set handy can save you a lot of trouble.

Even though the warning light turns on because of typical problems with the car, there is still a possibility that some of the problems are due to a major malfunction of the engine.

If this is the case, you should have the engine evaluated by a qualified mechanic.

How Much Does It Cost to Fix Dashboard Lights?

It can be a very challenging task to replace instrument clusters because, in the majority of automobiles, you'll need to disassemble the entire dashboard. In certain instances, you'll even need to take the steering column out of the vehicle.

If you take your vehicle to a repair to have the dashboard lights replaced, you can expect to pay an average of $951.

Where is My Dashboard Fuse?

The owner's manual for the vehicle provides the information. The fuses are typically located in a black plastic box behind the engine that is located under the glove box, in the area around the driver's knee, and under the hood of the vehicle.

Use the manual to find the precise one that controls the lighting on the dashboard. Locate the fuse that controls the power to the lights on your dashboard. Look in the engine compartment, behind the dashboard, in the glove box, and everywhere else you can think of.

Where is The Dashboard Dimmer Switch?

The button that you press to reset the trip meter is located on the control for the dimmer. Adjust the level of brightness by turning it to the left or right. On the back of the dashboard, directly below the headlight/dimmer knob is where you'll find it.

Wrapping Up

Car dashboard lights

Having dim dashboard lights is typically not a cause for severe concern. You can resolve most of these issues on your own. In addition, the lighting on the dashboard may dim for your convenience, shielding your eyes from the glare of bright lights while you are driving. 

For related articles about dashboards, we recommend reading these engaging articles: 

How to Dim Dashboard Lights in a Toyota Highlander

What SUVs Come With a Digital Dashboard?