Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

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 1000 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!

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: The interior lights and the head lights randomly flicker in Chevy Tracker

It could be the alternator. You can go and have any mechanic, anywhere take a look. Most guys do it free--they can check your batteries and alternator. It takes five minutes and they can tell you if the battery is...

Q: No dash lights or gauges

Hello. The existence of so many non-functioning items would seem to indicate that a main control fuse, and junction box, are not working. Check to see if there are any electrical components that may have been disturbed during the timing...

Q: Bad interior in my truck

You are not alone in having issues with plastic parts of the interior or exterior of GM vehicles. The cracks in your dash panel and door handles breaking are common, but no recalls were found for any of the trim...

Related articles

P0240 OBD-II Trouble Code: Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance
P0240 code definition Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance What the P0240 code means P0240 is an OBD-II generic code triggered when the Engine Control Module (ECM) detects the intake boost...
How to Avoid Back Pain in a Car
If you have back problems, sitting in a car for an extended period of time can be excruciating. Even without back problems, you could experience discomfort and soreness from...
How Much Does a Mechanic Make in Vermont?
Automotive technician jobs in Vermont have an average mechanic salary of $37k, with some mechanics earning a salary of $53k.