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Q: Dashboard backlight randomly doesn't work

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I Recently bought a 1995 Honda Civic. Knowing I would have to do some work, I bought it for the great gas mileage. One thing that confuses and concerns me is my dash backlight. It went out a few weeks ago, and came back on when I left for work later on. It worked for about 3 weeks, and was out again when I started my car this morning. When the lights are switched to "off", the gear light is illuminated, and the engine, gas, srs, etc also glow (for a few seconds when I turn the car on). When I turn the lights to on, the backlight doesnt turn on. However, if I turn my brights on or turn on my turn signals, they illuminate. Just the backlight that allows me to see my gear and my speedometer etc do not work. All my exterior lights work. My speedometer is also always 10 mph faster than my car is actually going, but id assume that is a different issue? Not something with the lighting electronics.

My car has 70000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

The dash lights on your instrument cluster is controlled by the dimmer control module or also called a dash light brightness controller on the left side of the steering column. While watching your radio lights, turn your headlights on and off slowly. Check if the radio lights go dim and brighten up when doing this. If they do then the dimmer module is okay.

Now try and turn on the head lights but this time try turning the dimmer controller on the heater control panel. Check and see if the lights get dim and then brighten up on the dash when doing so. If it does and your instrument cluster still does not work correctly, then you either have a bad connection on the cluster or the cluster needs service. I’d suggest removing the cluster and checking the connection by disconnecting and inspecting them for corrosion.

If you decide to get this fixed, consider YourMechanic, as a certified technician can come diagnose the source of your electrical problems and fix it accordingly. Good luck.

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