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

asked by on

What kind of dash light bulbs do cars use?

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.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1,000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!
  1. Home
  2. Questions
  3. What Kind of Dash Light Bulbs Do Cars Use?

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

Q: I am trying to locate the headlight adjuster for my pickup but I can't find it

There is an adjuster on the outside, near the top of light. You may have to remove the trim panel to get to it. The other is located behind the light on the inside. It is on a long rod...

Q: All warnings lamps are shawn in dashboard, and the gauges the acceleration and rpm are on 0 , also

It sounds like you may have a dashboard integration unit failure, or a fault within the electrical control unit (ECU). It's also possible that the instrument cluster itself is faulty. Have the vehicle scanned for diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs)...

Q: Speedometer, revolutions meter, and miles counter not working.

Hello and thank you for contacting YourMechanic. It seems that there could be a ground wire that is loose under the dashboard. If the ground wires are all good and tight, then the instrument cluster panel needs to be repaired...

Related articles

How Do Power Car Windows Increase Passenger Safety?
Power windows are responsible for approximately 2,000 emergency room visits every year. When a power window closes, it exerts enough force to bruise or break bones, crush fingers, or restrict an airway. Though...
How Long Does a Distributor O Ring Last?
The distributor is part of the ignition system in your vehicle and its purpose is to route high voltage from the ignition coil to the spark plug. The spark plug then...
How Long Does a Heater Control Valve Last?
Keeping the right amount of coolant in a car is essential in keeping the engine at the right temperature. Failing to have the right amount of coolant or even bad elements...