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・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: My dashboard instrument panel stopped working all of a sudden

Instrument panel failures were a problem with this model, largely caused by water leaks in the windshield/cowl area that found their way to the instrument cluster (Technical Service Bulletin 383318). There was even an informal customer satisfaction program early in...

Q: Speedometer stuck at 120 mph and 4WD not functioning

Hey there. It may help to find the fuse for the instrument cluster, remove it for 10 minutes or so, then re-insert the fuse. Chevrolet appears to have had a "customer goodwill" repair available for this if your vehicle had...

Q: Car idles rough wants to almost do and kinda jumps when at stop lights and lights flicker but stops when given gas

There are a few components that could be causing your problem. You may want to start by doing some voltage testing on the battery and the alternator. If you know your alternator and battery are good, look at the drive...

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...
What Causes Hoses to Leak?
While the largest part of your engine is mechanical, hydraulics plays a significant role. You’ll find fluids at work in a number of different areas. Your car's fluids include: Engine oil Transmission...
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...