Q: What Kind of Dash Light Bulbs Do Cars Use?

asked by on November 18, 2015

What kind of dash light bulbs do cars use?

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Dash lights use different types of bulbs to illuminate the dash display, warning indicators, and gauges. These bulbs are traditionally a sealed, small element, single filament bulbs of varying sizes depending on the amount of illumination required for the gauge, indicator, or overall background illumination that they must supply.

In the automotive application, these are referred to as miniature lamps and are commonly of the incandescent style. These types of bulbs use a single filament, usually tungsten, which is surrounded by a glass or quartz bulb. To keep the element from burning up the bulb is filled with an inert gas or put into a vacuum state which extends the life of the filament. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can even come in different colors or have a color coating applied to add the proper lighting effect for your vehicle. They generally require the removal of the dash panel to be replaced which can be tricky for a do it yourself application. They can be replaced when burning out with the factory bulb or can be upgraded to LED (light emitting diode) style bulbs.

LED lights are more expensive than the traditional bulbs but offer more light while using less available power and can last substantially longer. These newer design bulbs also come in a wide variety of color choices allowing you to alter the original look by changing the color scheme. You see this trend even with house lighting as traditional lighting has undergone a similar evolution from incandescent bulbs, to florescent, and finally LED’s. Replacing the bulbs can be a bit challenging, especially if upgrading. Some applications for LED’s require you to solder the bulbs to the actual dash unit.

Some things to consider would be the cost of the bulbs and the replacement cost, whether you decide to do it yourself or having a professional do the job. Lastly, what do you hope to gain from the overall job. Dash lighting is critical for proper gauge display, one should always consider the safety aspect as well. If you need assistance with your dashboard, a mechanic can diagnose your dashboards components and make any necessary repairs to fix the issue.

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