An instrument cluster, also known as an instrumental panel or dash cluster, is a component with which most drivers are very familiar. The dials and gauges displayed behind the steering wheel often include a tachometer indicating engine revolutions per minute, another gauge or lighted indicator for engine temperature, a fuel gauge or indicator, and a speedometer. All of these elements are part of one component. When functioning properly, dashboard indicators should accurately report the status of a vehicle based on readings from a variety of sensors.
Instrument cluster malfunctions might include burned out, dim, or flickering lighting or inaccurate readings from some or all gauges or indicators. If this component is malfunctioning, the issue could range from a nuisance to a very dangerous problem. Inaccurate readings of vehicle speed, the amount of fuel in the tank, or unclear indications of the oil level or engine temperature could cause major complications if a driver is unaware.
Diagnose the Problem
The panels on the dash often self-test when a vehicle is started. These diagnostics are one way of determining whether certain lighted indicators have burned out. Some vehicle models have additional diagnostic modes that may be useful for determining whether the problem is originating in the visible component itself or elsewhere in the vehicle.
A number of issues can be caused by inadequate voltage or other grounding issues. This component usually requires a minimum operating voltage of 10 volts. If the fuse is viable, the problem could be in the panel itself. It is usually not possible to repair or replace individual elements of this component. This repair is highly specialized and may require precise adjustments of electrical components or motors with specialized tools and training that certified technicians are more likely to have than most car owners.
Repair or Replacement?
If the instrument cluster itself is the problem, the available options could be repair or instrument cluster replacement. Rather than having costly repairs done by a dealership or ordering pricey parts, it may be possible to save money by having the component repaired rather than replaced or by purchasing a refurbished part. Customers should look for a service that employs skilled technicians and guarantees repairs and replacements.
If you opt for repair or a refurbished replacement, try to choose a trustworthy supplier that is willing to stand by the quality of their re-manufactured electronics. Highly-trained technicians may be able to quickly repair the part or provide a like-new functional replacement that is tested before being returned to the customer. It may be possible to mail this component in for repair and have the part shipped back more quickly than it would take many dealerships to complete the repair.
Electronic components tend to be all or nothing – the entire component is either functional or it may require repair or replacement. By having these parts serviced by trained technicians, it can be possible to achieve repairs affordably and quickly. Once you have determined the cause of the issue, solving this problem can be much easier with a service specializing in electronic rebuilding and these types of repairs.