Automotive Column 9 from Under The Hood Instrument Lights
Syndicated Newspaper Column
Remember the good old days when a bulb would burn out and you just went down to the local parts store and picked one up and replaced it. Well... that's not always the case anymore. This question is from a listener who is joining an ever-growing group of vehicle owners with a different kind of lighting.
CAR QUESTIONS TAKEN FROM
OUR WEEKLY TALK RADIO SHOW
Dear Motor Medics,
I drive a 2003 Pontiac Montana minivan with 110,000 miles in very good condition. Recently we have noticed that the lights that provide nighttime illumination for the speedometer and the temperature control panel and also the door lock switches are starting to fail. Some of the switches are still lit and can be controlled by the dimmer switch but others have failed completely. Sometimes the failed bulbs will flicker. Can we replace the bulbs in these items ourselves? A shop told us we cannot.
Diane in Sandusky Ohio
Many of the vehicles made in the past 10 years have switched to a lighting system known as L.E.D. or light emitting diode. This type of light is not replaceable do to the way that they are installed. They are soldered to the boards of the components they are lighting up and when they fail the only way to get them to work again is to either solder new leds to the boards or to replace the entire component. Due to the availability of the leds and the difficulty of replacing them we find that to repair the failed lights the best way is to replace the component. Unfortunately this can get very pricy. While some items like window switches can be as little as $15 items like the instrument cluster can run several hundred dollars. In the case of the later we recommend checking on the availability of a used part.
Take care, the Motor Medics
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Advice given by the Motor Medics is for entertainment only. Each problem is different and requires different approaches and answers given here are opinions and just one possibility. In order to make an accurate diagnosis a qualified technician should make a hands-on diagnosis. Always follow all recommended safety procedures and consult with your own qualified technician before attempting repairs of any kind.