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?

A: Dash lights use different types of bulbs to...

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・Save up to 30%

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: How Can I Clean a Dirty Light Socket on My Car

Cleaning a light socket would depend on what type of dirt, corrosion, or rust the socket was contaminated with. These damages will vary depending on the sockets location on your vehicle. Sockets can be in sealed or semi sealed lens...

Q: Dashboard lights not staying on

This is a problem generally caused by a loose solder joint on pin 1 of the left most instrument cluster connector on the instrument cluster processing board. Sometimes this solder joint can be fixed but other times a new processing...

Q: ABS light blinks when the car is turned off

This is odd, since generally the ABS light should come on for a few seconds with the ignition ON. My suggestion is to have the system scanned for diagnostic trouble codes which serve as a starting point for further diagnosis....

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...
P0052 OBD-II Trouble Code: HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1)
P0052 code definition HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1) What the P0052 code means This code is seen when the Engine Control Module (ECM) tries to control the...
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.