Why Are My Car Gauges Not Working?

All cars come with gauges that are capable of letting us know everything about our car’s condition, from the current rate of speed to the state and health of your car engine. And when one has the issue of car gauges not working, that is not something to ignore. The defect can depend on the issue you are having. This article discusses the common causes of faulty gauges so read on!

What Are The Usual Scenarios Of Car Gauges Not Working?

If one gauge stops working, the problem could be in the gauge itself or a bad sensor. All the gauges cutting at the same time however can indicate a blown fuse or a defective instrument cluster. One can break down the most common causes of car gauges not working into three scenarios. 

1. None Of the Gauges Working

When none of the gauges works, the most common reason is found to be a blown fuse or a defective instrument cluster. Otherwise, if the gauges all read low or erratic, there may be an issue with the voltage regulator that feeds the instrument cluster. It could also be a wiring problem or a bad instrument voltage regulator if the gauges are all pegged at the highest possible reading. 

2. An Individual Gauge Not Working

The problem will mostly be in the gauge, wiring or slender if you notice that the oil pressure, coolant, charge or gas gauge does not work or works erratically. A speedometer not working can also indicate a broken cable or stripped gear because some speedometers use physical cables instead of sensors. 

3. One More Dashboard Warning Lights Don’t Work

If you notice that one or more warning lights fail to illuminate when you turn the key on, you have to know that this indicates a blown bulb. You will have to check the fuses and wiring to the instrument cluster, the first thing if you notice that none of the lights come on. If a warning light turns on and stays on when your car engine is working, that usually indicates a problem with that specific system. 

Why Is My Car Gauges Not Working At All?

If you are having the issue of car gauges not working at all, the problem is usually either a fuse or wiring problem.  The first step in diagnosing this type of issue is to identify the fuse associated with the instrument cluster or gauges. The fuse must have power on both sides when the ignition key is turned on. You can test this with an inexpensive test light or multimeter. You can also get your mechanic to check in case you do not have the right tools or aren’t sure as to how you can do the diagnosis. 

If the fuse is fine the next thing you or your mechanic will have to do is check for power at the individual gauges. You will have to remove the instrument cluster, which is quite difficult to do and time-consuming in some vehicles. You may have to trim some trim pieces and unscrew the cluster to pull it free. If you are someone who is used to doing jobs like this, you would be able to perform this one too. Otherwise, it would be better to get your mechanic to do it. 

How To Figure Out Why Dash Gauges And Light Don’t Work?

The troubleshooting must be done based on the number of failures that happen at the same time, regardless of whether you are dealing with gauges or lights. So if there is only one light or gauge that is not working, you have to follow one basic procedure and you have to follow another if everything stops working at once. 

1. What To Do When All The Gauges And Warning Lights Stops Working At Once?

When you are having the situation, car gauges not working at all or the lights fail to work at all, then the problem is something that all the gauges and lights share in common. Follow the below-presented procedure to diagnose the issue in such a situation. 

  • First, proceed to check the fuses. The fuse may be labelled gauges, cluster or something similar. The fuse should have power on both sides when the ignition is in the on position. 
  • If you find that the fuses are working fine, then check for the power at the ignition cluster.
  • If you find that the instrument cluster has power, then check for ground. A bad ground can result in total failure or erratic readings. 
  • If all of these fails, you may have to replace the instrument cluster itself. 

2. What To Do When One Gauge Or Light Stops Working?

When you notice that only one gauge or a light stops working, the problem is either a bad sensor or a bad gauge. Here is how you can diagnose this issue. 

  • To diagnose a single bad gauge or warning light, you must first locate the sensor that connects to it. 
  • The first step then is to disconnect the sensor. Depending on how your car gauge works, either disconnecting it or connecting it to the ground may allow you to test the operation of the gauge. 
  • The diagnostic procedure for gauges and sensors differs from one application to another. 
  • Sometimes you may be able to fin that the issue happened because of loose connections. 

3. What To Do When a Speedometer With A Physical Cable Doesn’t Work?

When you notice that your speedometer which has a physical cable and not a sensor does not work, the problem usually is a broken cable or a bad speedometer. Here is what you should do to diagnose this issue. 

  • The diagnosing procedure can be quite easy if you can locate where the speedometer cable connects to the transmission. 
  • The speedometer will probably move if you manually turn the end of the cable with your fingers that insert into the transmission. 
  • If the speedometer fails to move, disconnect the cable and turn it manually.
  • If you notice that one end does not turn when you rotate the other, you can conclude that the cable is internally broken. Otherwise, the speedometer is bad and must be replaced. 


When you notice gauge problems, the first thing you should do is to diagnose the issue properly. This article has explained how you can diagnose the issue in different scenarios. If you are not confident to do the procedure on your own, get a mechanic to do the diagnosis and repairs to fix the problem.

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