Dashboard lights provide drivers necessary information about the car and its condition, allowing for a better awareness of what’s happening inside and outside the vehicle. They can even help predict potential problems before they occur. So, if you notice your dashboard lights won’t turn on, even after turning the key, it’s important to identify the cause and fix it fast.
Reasons for why there are no dash lights when you turn the key include a faulty bulb or wiring and problems with the fuse box or computer. Dash lights may also fail to turn on due to a dead battery or malfunctioning alternator.
This article will describe the various reasons why your dash lights won’t turn on and the corresponding remedies, so keep reading.
Reasons Why Dash Lights Won’t Turn On
Several factors can cause your dashboard lights not to work. Let’s tackle the most common issues one by one, so you’ll know how to spot each problem.
The Dash Light Bulb Is Worn Out
The dashboard light bulb serves as a source of illumination for the dashboard and is responsible for lighting up the speedometer, tachometer, fuel indicator, and other panels in your car. If the bulb is worn out or damaged, then you won’t see any lights on your dashboard at all.
The bulb can deteriorate over time and use up its filament. It could also burn out if there’s a power surge, causing it to stop working. This is common, and often the reason why your dashboard lights won’t turn on, so it’s best to check the bulbs first.
There’s a Problem With the Fuse Box
The fuse box is where you’ll find all of your car’s fuses in one place. It also serves as a switchboard for easy access to each electrical system in your vehicle, so when there’s a problem with it, it stops powering up the components that depend on it.
Specifically, when one or more dashboard fuses blow, no power is supplied to the lights, so they won’t come on. Inspecting the fuse box can help you identify if it’s causing your dashboard lights not to work.
The Wiring Is Faulty
Wires are responsible for transmitting energy from one place to another, whether it’s inside or outside your vehicle. If there’s a loose connection, the electricity is unable to pass through to reach its destination, resulting in your dashboard lights not turning on.
To check if the wiring is faulty, identify any loose connections or damage by looking for frayed or corroded wires. Inspect each wire in your car, starting with the ones coming from the fuse box. Make use of a tester to check whether or not power is running through each wire.
There’s a Problem With the Computer
The computer is mainly responsible for turning on your dashboard lights when you turn the ignition key. When there’s a problem with it, then the dashboard lights won’t come on even if you turn the key.
One way to check this is by using an OBD-II scanner (available on Amazon.com). This device plugs into your car’s diagnostic port and connects to your computer so you can read out any error codes or warnings that may help you pinpoint the electronic issue.
The Battery Is Dead
The battery provides electrical energy for your car to start and run. Without it, you won’t be able to turn on your engine, thus no dashboard lights will appear.
Also, if the battery is draining too quickly or can’t hold a charge, the car won’t start as well.
The Alternator Has Malfunctioned
The alternator is responsible for powering your vehicle when the engine is running. When this component is defective, the car won’t start and the battery won’t charge. That means there won’t be power for the dashboard lights, which will remain off.
With a malfunctioning alternator, you may notice the battery light flickering or hear a whirring sound coming from it. In these cases, turn off your car and take a closer look at the alternator. If any bolts are missing or worn out, this could be the cause of your dashboard lights not working.
How To Fix Dash Lights That Aren’t Working?
Here are a few ways you can fix your dash lights that aren’t working:
- Replace the dash light bulb
- Check and replace the fuse box
- Check the wiring
- Check the computer
- Charge the battery
- Replace the alternator
Here’s a rundown of the steps to follow in each case:
Replace the Dash Light Bulb
Most of the time, replacing a bulb will eliminate any problems with your dash lights. If you find that the light has burned out, you can choose to either replace it yourself (if the bulb is easy to access) or take your car to an auto shop for professional assistance.
If the bulb is easily accessed in your car, here’s an in-depth guide on how to replace your dashboard lights:
Check and Replace the Fuse Box
Before you go ahead and replace the fuse box, check if it’s simply a blown fuse that’s causing your dashboard light issue. To do this, remove the blown fuse and inspect for any signs of damage or melting.
Here’s a great tutorial on how to test your vehicle’s fuses:
Check the Wiring
Loose or corroded wires can be a hidden cause of your dashboard light problem. You’ll have to take some time to inspect the wiring system under the hood, checking for any broken or disconnected pieces.
To check your car’s wiring, use a multimeter or a voltmeter and test for any faulty wires. If the wiring is damaged, this would mean that you have to replace them as well as the fuse box if it’s defective.
Here’s a demo of how to troubleshoot electric problems using a multimeter:
Check the Computer
To check for faults with your car’s computer system, use an OBD II scanner. Besides helping troubleshoot wiring and computer problems, this tool will help identify issues with the spark timing, fuel-to-air ratio, and exhaust gas temperature.
Alternatively, you could call an auto mechanic to help check for computer problems.
Here’s a guide on how to use an OBD II scanner:
Charge the Battery
If a dead battery is the cause of your dashboard lights not working, it may be possible to recharge it. For this task, it’s best to wear work gloves and safety glasses, and you’ll need a battery charger.
If you don’t already own a battery charger, I recommend this NOCO GENIUS1 Smart Charger (available on Amazon.com). It’s small, affordable, and serves as a charger, maintainer, and desulfator, making it a must-have for any car owner.
You can recharge a battery in 4 easy steps:
- Put on your safety glasses and work gloves.
- Attach the red (+) clamp of your charger to the red terminal of your battery.
- Attach the black/unpainted clamp of your charger to a metal part of your car, ensuring this part is away from the battery and fuel lines.
- Plug your charger into a power outlet.
For a visual guide, here’s a video tutorial to watch before following the procedure above:
Replace the Alternator
Finally, you can always replace the alternator if that’s what it takes to fix your dash lights issue. To do this, find a suitable replacement and take your car to a mechanic to help you with the replacement process.
Note: Before going ahead and replacing your alternator, be sure to check your owner’s manual for the maximum allowable alternator amperage. This is the current your vehicle’s alternator produces, and exceeding this limit can result in severe damage to your car.
Dashboard lights not working can be frustrating to deal with. To avoid this from happening, keep an eye on your dashboard light’s condition. If you notice a problem, get it fixed as soon as possible to avoid further complications.