Top 5 Reasons the Dashboard Lights Go Out on Your Car – Auto Care Tips from Carlsen Subaru

Learn The Common Reasons Your Car Dashboard Lights Stopped Working

What do you do when you can't see paradise by the dashboard light? Consult with our trained technicians!


A problem with the dashboard lights on your car can make traveling at night dangerous. It means you won't be able to see important alerts in the dashboard area since the lights themselves won't activate. To ensure you can safely drive no matter what time it is, make your way to our service center. To give you an idea of what might need to be fixed, we've compiled the five most common reasons we see in our service center for the dash lights going out.

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Reason 5: Bad Alternator

Dashboard lights that flicker, fade or just seem dimmer than they should could indicate a bad alternator. Once your car's engine is running, the alternator converts mechanical energy from the engine into electricity that powers your car's electronic accessories -- including the dashboard lights.

If the alternator isn't running as well as it should, it might not deliver enough electricity to the accessories. This can cause your dashboard lights to malfunction as well as more significant problems like engine stalling and difficulty starting the car. If your alternator is bad, visit our service center at Carlsen Subaru for a replacement of this essential component.

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Reason 4: Blown Fuses

To protect your car's fragile electronics from surges of electricity, each system gets its own electrical fuse. Just like in your house, the fuse will blow if too much electricity is pulled through the system. Check the fuse associated with your car's dashboard lights. If the fuse has blown, an identical fuse must be installed in its place to restore the circuit.

Whenever a fuse has blown on your car, that means something went wrong somewhere in the electrical system. You may want to have the system inspected by one of our technicians to identify problem spots.

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Reason 3: Burned Out Dashboard Bulbs

On older vehicles, the lightbulbs behind the dashboard that illuminate the gauges and lights are basically just tiny little incandescent bulbs. On a modern car, however, these are usually underpowered LED lights, which should never need to be replaced. However, the bulbs may simply burn out over time on an older car. If your car's getting up there in miles and some of the dashboard lights go out, but the rest of the car is working fine, you may need to have a technician pull out the gauge cluster and install new bulbs.

Reason 2: Bad Wiring Harness

The wiring harness holds all the wires as they route their way throughout your car -- speaker wires in the door panels, wires that make the brake lights work, wires for the reading lamps, power windows, climate controls and so much more. They all come together in the wiring harness.

If one of the wires to your dashboard was severed in the wiring harness, the dashboard lights won't get electricity and won't turn on. This is definitely unlikely, but electrical problems like these can be tricky to diagnose. There can be more than a mile of wire running throughout a modern car! For that reason, it's best to turn to the professionals to address a possible wiring problem. Our technicians at Carlsen Subaru have special tools that'll help them locate and fix any wiring problems you might experience.

Reason #1: The Dimmer Switch

You'd be surprised how often this happens...

Sometimes located in a position where it can be bumped by your knee on accident, be sure to check the dimmer switch associated with your dashboard lights.

In order to keep your eyes more comfortable on dark, rural roads, you can dim the lights in the dashboard -- and if the dimmer switch is turned all the way down, the lights will effectively be turned off.

Before jumping to conclusions, be sure to check the dashboard dimmer switch. If it's been accidently turned down, you might fix your problem just by adjusting the dimmer switch!

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Carlsen Subaru

480 Veterans Blvd
Directions Redwood City, CA 94063

  • Sales: 650-365-6390
  • Service : 650-365-6390
  • Parts: 650-365-6390
  1. Carlsen Subaru

    480 Veterans Blvd
    Redwood City, CA 94063

    • Sales: (888) 520-5916

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