Q: Backlighting to the dashboard failed now it’s distracting

asked by on November 05, 2015

I have a problem with the dashboard in my 2009 Chevrolet Malibu. The light behind the dash randomly gets brighter and then dimmer, then brighter again, and so on. The car has just 35,000 miles on it, so I didn't expect a little problem like this to pop up. What could be causing it?

This actually may be a normal condition. The alternator on your car has a specified amount of amperage it can output at a given engine speed. For instance, your alternator’s maximum output is approximately 125 amps, but only 85 amps when under load. What this means is, that if your car has all stock parts and no aftermarket electrical items running, your alternator should have no issues above high engine idle speeds. If you only notice the problem when the engine is at idle speed with heavy accessory loads such as: lights on at night, A/C on medium to high blower speeds, or the radio on and phone plugged in, the dash lights may dim when you are stopping or at a stop due to the heavy electrical loads on the alternator. It is causing a brown out, much like those in our houses when the electric company cannot put out enough power for the demand we need. Your car may be doing the same. This is normal if your battery and charging check out fine and all tests are ok. I recommend contacting YourMechanic for a system check.

Was this answer helpful?
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Transmission only shifts Manuel and stays in first in drive

Hi Jose. Thanks for contacting us tonight. When you have problems like you’ve described, it is usually caused by one of two possible sources. Either the shift interlock solenoid is damaged, or there is internal damage or fluid obstructions inside...

Jerking at stopping and accelerating

Hi there. It sounds like you may have an engine misfire or possibly a sensor problem. Since the Check Engine Light came on, I always start by scanning the computer for codes. That gives me a place to start. From...

Is it worth replacing a busted radiator

If you can get more for the car as a trade in, after you replace the radiator, than what a junk yard will give you for junking it, then I'd recommend fixing or replacing the radiator and use it as...

Related articles

The Best Used Cars to Buy If You’re a Plumber
Plumbers Plumbers need to carry around all manner of tools and supplies. If you’re plumbing a large building, or even a decent sized home, you’re going to need a vehicle that has quite a bit of cargo capacity. A car...
The Best Used Cars to Buy If You’re a Painter
If If you’re a painter, and you work for someone else, chances are you don’t care all that much about what you drive, as long as it gets you to and from work reliably. On the other hand, if you...
How to Add Neon Lights to Your Car
Have Have you ever been to a car show and seen those colored lights beneath the car? These neon lights can be used to give your car a unique aura as you drive through the night. With advancement of LED...