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Dashboard Lights Not Working: How to Fix

CarPart  ·  May 3, 2023

Dashboard Lights Not Working: How to Fix

The dashboard is one of the most essential parts of the car for a driver. It has various warning and indicator lights that let you know the state of your vehicle at any given time. That includes warning you of problems if they occur while driving.

Dashboard lights don’t fail often, but they can stop working. That could happen due to a blown fuse, loose, or damaged wiring, or a faulty lightbulb. Problems with onboard sensors and computers can also affect the dashboard lights and stop them from working.

It's risky to drive around with dashboard lights that don't work. Understanding why that problem happens and how you can fix it goes a long way - so, read on!

What Causes Dash Lights to Go Out?

Whether you find your Toyota dashboard lights not working or that of any other car brand and model, the root causes are typically the same.

Here are the reasons dash lights tend to go out:

1. Fuse Issues

The first and most likely reason your dashboard lights go out is a fuse issue. Generally, fuses are the first thing you’ll want to troubleshoot whenever any electrical or electronic component in your vehicle stops working.

As you might know, your car has a box full of different fuses. Each protects an electrical circuit in the vehicle, such as the circuit powering the dash lights.

That fuse will destroy itself or ‘blow’ when the circuit experiences an electrical fault like a short circuit or an electrical overload.

When that happens, the circuit is broken, and no electrical current can flow. In the case of your dashboard lights, the lights will go out and stay out until you fix the problem.

How to fix it: Once a fuse blows, it's no longer usable. That means you can only repair or service it with professional help. The only solution is to replace the affected fuse with an identical one.

You’ll have to find your car’s fuse box and identify the one connected to the dashboard lights’ circuit. Firstly, check your car owner’s manual to locate that fuse box. Typically, you’ll find it somewhere under the hood, though some models have it elsewhere.

Then, refer to the diagram inside the fuse box to locate the fuse connecting to your dashboard lights. Replace that fuse with an identical one, and everything will work normally again.

2. Loose Connections

After you rule out the fuses, the next thing to check for is a loose connection. Sometimes, the root cause behind your dashboard lights going out could be as simple as vibrations causing its wires to loosen over time.

The loose wire could come undone completely when those vibrations continue for extended periods. As a result, no electrical current will flow, and your dash lights will stay off.

How to fix it: The solution to this problem is to access the instrument cluster and its wiring. That way, you or the mechanic can inspect each wire carefully to ensure all the connections are tight.

Any loose wires should be reconnected and attached tightly so they’re less likely to come undone due to the car’s normal vibrations.

3. Damaged Wiring

Suppose you’ve ruled out the two causes above, the next thing to consider is that one or more wires are damaged.

Although less likely, it’s always possible that wires develop rips or tears in them. Besides that, overheating can also cause wire sections to burn out completely.

That can result in electrical faults or a lack of current flowing to your dashboard lights. Simply put, a damaged wire is enough to cause your dashboard lights to stop working.

How to fix it: When it comes to damaged wiring, the best solution is to replace the affected wire with a new one. But, of course, you should also troubleshoot the instrument cluster for electrical faults to ensure your new wires don’t get damaged the same way.

Replacing wiring can be quite tricky. You can do it yourself as a DIY task, though it's often best to let professionals handle it on your behalf.

4. Bulb Problems

You'll often find that some dashboard lights work while others don't. In other words, the problem is isolated to only one or a few of the lights rather than the whole dashboard.

When that’s the case, the root cause is most likely a problem with the lightbulb. The bulb could have blown out due to excess wear or other issues. 

When that happens, the bulb won’t generate any light despite being wired correctly and receiving an electrical current.

Some cars use old-fashioned light bulbs, while others use light-emitting diodes or LEDs. So, confirm which one your vehicle uses before you replace it.

How to fix it: Replacing a failed lightbulb is very straightforward. Firstly, you’ll want to access the back of the instrument cluster. Then, remove the affected lightbulb and connect a compatible replacement.

Lastly, reattach and test the instrument panel to ensure all lights work correctly.

5. Computer Problems

Car models produced in the past few years have become more reliant on computers and electronics than ever before. That’s why it’s worth considering that your dashboard light issue might result from a computer problem.

Remember: Your car relies on various systems and car sensors to gather data and display it on the dashboard. So, when the dashboard fails to light up, the dashboard itself might not be to blame. Instead, the issue could be with the systems feeding data to the instrument cluster.

Of course, you’ll want to rule out all the other more likely causes before assuming that is the case. So, check the fuses, wiring, and lightbulbs first to ensure everything is in good working order.

Once you rule those out, you must consider the computers or electronic components supplying information to the instrument cluster.

How to fix it: Diagnosing this cause can be pretty tricky to do yourself. One way is to use onboard diagnostics to identify modules or sensors that might indirectly affect the dashboard’s lights. From there, you can track down the root cause and resolve it quickly.

Which Fuse Is for Dashboard Lights?

You can find the fuse for your dashboard lights by referring to the diagram in your fuse box. The diagram will help you identify all the different fuses in the box, including the one that connects to your dashboard lights.

If you’re replacing that fuse, be sure only to use an identical replacement. Using the wrong fuse or installing it incorrectly could cause other problems later.

Shopping around for fuses, wires, or lightbulbs? Check out CarpartAU for everything you need. You can use the Directory to find local auto suppliers in your area. Then, use the contact details on the Directory to call around to see if they have the parts you need.


By Ray Hasbollah

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