What is Car Dashboard? Definition, Parts, Function, Caution or Indication Symbols

The dashboard of a car is a part of the interior of the car that is generally on the front side of a car. A car’s dashboard acts as a guide and informer for the driver as well as the passengers of the car.

In your automobile, the dashboard serves as the control panel. It contains all of the information you need to know, as well as the gauges and controls for correctly operating the vehicle. The dashboard has a variety of functions that present you with alerts and information that you should be aware of while driving.

What is Car Dashboard? Definition

Definition of Car Dashboard

Dashboards, also known as instrument panels, dashes, or fascias, comprise the central console of an automobile. Additionally, it serves as a divider between the front of the car and the driver, as it hosts various indicator panels for each part of the car.

Car dashboard parts function caution indication symbols
Car dashboard parts function caution indication symbols

Different dashboard designs use various features, and the quality of a dashboard increases as its features are applied in a more sophisticated way.

History of Car Dashboard

The term dashboard was originally used when a wooden board was attached to the front of carriages to prevent the horses from splashing or dashing mud or rocks onto the horses pulling the carriage.

The term dashboard was not widely popular in the English dictionary until the start of the 1800s; the idea of a dashboard was used far before that. In reality, similar protection against dirt and debris was used on Mesopotamian chariots going back to 3,000 BC.

The automobile was not invented until the early 1900s, so carriages were able to run on motors instead of horses, and dashboards were transformed into instruments for vehicles, such as speedometers and gas gauges.

The name “carriage” was quickly simplified to “car,” “instrument panel” replaced “dashboard,” and windshields were designed to protect drivers and passengers from light debris. Back in the mid-1980s, dashboards were made of wood veneer or painted sheet metal. On most models, the instruments were just a speedometer, fuel gauge, and ammeter.

  • The car’s warning lights were usually combinations of the ignition, main beam, low oil pressure, and indicators. The gauges on the dashboard were analogue with needles and dials, and the warning lights were small bulbs mounted behind colored plastic or glass covers.
  • Dashboard displays, or instrument panels, were a little later to emerge, replacing carriage dashboards as an ordinary slab of wood beneath the windshield.
  • Automobiles began to be fitted with gauges in the 1930s, and by the mid-1930s, all cars were equipped with what we now call an idiot lamp, a warning light that shows that something is wrong with the vehicle.
  • With the advancement of cars, safety became more crucial, and in 1948, the Tucker became the first car with a padded dashboard. By the 70s, padded dashboards were the norm. However, it wasn’t until the introduction of airbags in the early 1990s that the next major step in safety was taken.

What are the Changes Made in New Generation Dashboards?

It may be familiar to you that the dashboard originally included a variety of simple controls and instruments that displayed information about the vehicle’s speed, oil pressure, and fuel level. Modern cars have a dashboard made from plastic that is constructed from one piece, complete with ducts and spaces for the heating system, instrumentation, radio cassettes, and speakers.

For driver safety as well as customer appeal, car designers have greater options when designing dashboards using molded plastic.

Varieties of Car Dashboard Displays

You should have proper knowledge of the type of displays that might be present in a modern car. There are several types of displays offered by manufacturers. Analog devices, digital devices, or both can be used.

An analog gauge typically consists of a needle that moves along a scale and gives a variable reading whereas a digital display shows numbers. The Digital Displays in a Dashboard show exact values of data, such as engine speed, rpm, and other things, such as the exact location of the engine.

But, Analog Displays are superior to Digital Displays, however, since they show relative changes better. When you are in the driver’s seat, you must have realized that you don’t really need the exact reading as an analog speedometer will show the rise and fall in vehicle speed much more clearly than a digital speedometer.

Hence, Analog is the best option for searching for quick information when precise data is not required. Recently car manufacturers have generally made dashboards by using a mixture of using both Digital and Analog indicators. As an example, a car dashboard might have a speedometer which is an Analog indicator and an Odometer is a part of a digital dashboard display.

Car Dashboard Display

At the very least, A speedometer and a fuel gauge can be found on your dashboard display. Aside from those instruments, the display will have a tachometer, charging system gauge, oil pressure gauge, and engine temperature gauge.

While behind the wheel, you need to know the most common information. Gauges will show you that. Your vehicle’s dash panel contains a number of gauges. Here are some of the most common ones you will find.


The odometer of a vehicle is most likely the least understood and yet most obvious component. If you go out and ask any random vehicle owner about the odometer, chances are he or she isn’t even aware of it. An Odometer, which is also known as an Odograph is a tool that is present in your car that is used to measure and record the distance that has been traveled by a vehicle till the time of the reading.

The tool is present underneath the steering wheel, on the dashboard. It can be used for a variety of purposes to determine the distance a car has traveled. It is mostly a tool for providing information that will help you in your vehicle’s overall maintenance. You can determine when to repair your car by knowing how many kilometers or miles it has traveled on the road.

The number of kilometers driven by an automobile is one of the most significant elements in determining its resale value if you ever plan to sell your car. To examine the car’s fuel economy, you may reset the day’s reading. This is a really useful tool for office employees or those who drive to work every day. You may assess your financial situation and create monthly spending which will be an interpretation of the findings.

Furthermore, you can learn some important information, such as when to replace your engine oil or tires depending on how you drive, as well as your vehicle’s total mileage.

When you buy a new automobile, the business provides free maintenance. The service interval is defined by the number of kilometers driven. The odometer will give the reading accurately every time the particular data is required. Most often, Odometers and speedometers commonly come as one unit and are referred to as speedometers.


A Speedometer is a tool that is present on the dashboard of a car or other vehicles. Its basic function is to show the speed of the car at which it is traveling. The speedometer’s speed-indicating mechanism is operated by just a cylindrical permanent magnet that is spun 1,000 times every mile by a flexible shaft connected to a gearbox at the back of the transmission.

The speedometer shows the speed at which the vehicle is traveling at a specific point in time (when reading). In most cases, speeds can be found in both kilometers per hour (km / h) and miles per hour (mph). [1 mile = 1.60934km]

Most modern speedometers get their data from a vehicle speed sensor (VSS) installed on the gearbox. Like other developments in automotive technology, there is now a trend toward the use of electronic devices in speedometers. However, most cars, even those manufactured today, are usually equipped with a mechanical speedometer with hands and a tuned dial for displaying speed. This type of speedometer’s design hasn’t altered much in the previous fifty years.


A tachometer is an instrument for the engine speed in units of Revolutions Per Minute (RPM) which means it shows the total number of rotations of the crankshaft of your engine.

Digital tachometers are becoming more and more popular on the market because of their reliability. Fewer moving parts extend the life of the component. Analog options are generally prone to failure and are exacerbated by moving parts, as the tachometer position is usually near the engine compartment, which is the most vibrating.

The tachometer plays an imperative part in making a difference you have got way better mileage. You may have superior fuel mileage if you quicken less and keep your rpm low. To extend your speed you’ll move to higher gears and at the same time, you’ll keep your rpm as low as conceivable.

It is continuously prompted that you just move to the required gear at a specific motor rpm and the tachometer is getting to assist you. You must continuously allude to the tachometer while moving gears. This can be specially required for a manual transmission framework. On the off chance that you have got a programmed transmission, you don’t have to be stressed approximately adapt moving at all.

Fuel Level Gauge

A Fuel Level Gauge is an instrument that shows the level of fuel contained in engine vehicles. It comprises a Detecting Unit and a Pointer. The Detecting Unit employments a coast and a potentiometer against a printed foundation.

Each gage comprises of two partitioned components of a marker and detecting or sending unit. The marker is the portion of the gauge that’s found on the dash, regularly within the instrument cluster, while the detecting unit is located within the fuel tank. There are a number of diverse sorts of gas gages, each of which works a small in an unexpected way, but in common terms, the detecting unit measures the fuel level, and the marker reports that level.

You must have a certain sum of fuel to keep your fuel pump greased up each time. This makes a difference in cooling your fuel pump. It is continuously prescribed to preserve the fuel level by at the slightest 25%-30% of the tank volume.

Coolant Temperature Gauge

This an instrument present in the gauge of a car’s dashboard and this gauge lets you know whether the car’s engine is either hot or cold or at any normal standard temperature (195 degrees F – 220 degrees F)

You’ll be informed about a dangerous situation if the temperature gauge in your car indicates that the engine’s coolant is too hot.

Overview of a car’s dashboard

A dashboard does have a critical part in a car since the car’s appearance and execution will see troublesome without a dashboard. In case your car doesn’t utilize the dashboard, it would feel uneasy when driving. Each component of the dashboard is interconnected and supports the other components.

Functions and Parts of a Car’s Dashboard

Car indicator lights

The indicator lights on the dashboard of a car are an important component. The marker light will ordinarily get extraordinary consideration from drivers since it is situated right before the rider.

Indicator lights can appear on motor temperature, entryway, airbag marker, brake, check the motor, RPM, speedometer, situate belt and odometer. All the markers recorded have diverse capacities.

Car Drawers

Car Drawers which are also known as a Glove Box or Globe Compartment is separate spaces built into the dashboard of a vehicle, mainly cars. The compartment is generally located over the front row seats near the passenger’s footwell and this drawer is mainly used to store various miscellaneous items.

Things that must be put away in a car drawer are cell phone chargers, electric lamps, to begin with, help packs, manuals, and car protections archive books. Other important items such as legal documents, papers of the car e.t.c could also be kept in this box as these items could be useful at any required time and having them in the car drawers will become very much handy.

Ignition Key

An ignition key is generally present near the bottom right corner of the car’s power steering wheel. The ignition key is usually required to start the engine of the car. 

The key ignition of a vehicle serves two purposes: It guarantees that as it were the individual who carries the keys can begin the car and drive it absent, and it not as it were begins the motor but actuates all the other electronic and mechanical frameworks within the vehicle. The same key moreover regularly gives get to the trunk and maybe indeed a lockable glove box.

Car Levers

Car levers are more often than not found on the cleared-out and right of the car’s directing wheel. When turning on the turn flag, the lever capacity to turn on the headlights at night and turn on the mist lights when the climate conditions are foggy.

Each electrical framework in your vehicle is controlled by a switch in a few ways. Control window switches, fog light switches, and turn flag switches all perform electrical work. When it comes to controlling the greater framework’s interior of your vehicle, they are controlled by greater switches. Lever switches are utilized to control numerous of the bigger frameworks interior of your vehicle

The transmission lever utilized in a car could be a lever that capacities to move gears within the car’s transmission framework. With the transmission lever, you will be able to increment or diminish the car’s speed by moving gears.

Heat Core Unit

The head unit of a car is the control and entertainment centre of a car. This part of the car also called an electric control unit (ECU) or an Electric Control Module (ECM) is an ingrained system in a car.

In common, the head unit gets to be the excitement centre of a car. With the head unit, you’ll be able to play music or interface to a cellphone to create a call, can use an integrated smart assistant, and can even watch movies. In case the car is not prepared with a head unit, the subtleties within the car will be boring.

Advanced vehicles have numerous ECUs, and these can incorporate a few or all of the taking after motor control module (ECM), powertrain control module (PCM), transmission control module (TCM), brake control module (BCM or EBCM), central control module (CCM), central timing module (CTM), common electronic module (Pearl), body control module (BCM), and suspension control module (SCM).

Control Centre

The car’s control centre portion is located in the middle of the dashboard. This control centre often includes hazard light settings, air conditioning, and other features. This component should be readily accessible to the driver. The control centre is always present on the dashboard of the car.

The control centre on the front of the vehicle is the area containing the control-bearing surfaces. There is a term that refers to the area between the front driver and passenger seats of many vehicles starting from the dashboard and running beneath the dashboard, often merging with the transmission tunnel.

This advanced feature makes your trip indeed more comfortable since you continuously get the most recent data with respect to car tire pressure. As well as the more traditional use as instrumentation surfaces, centre consoles are increasingly equipped with a wide range of storage compartments, cupholders, and even refrigerators.

Car Dashboard Display Design

First impressions are crucial, and a dashboard serves as your introduction to each vehicle you drive. Designers are hired to consider what each user could want from the dashboard, since, unlike prospective lovers, you’re unlikely to ask for a second date with that automobile if you don’t obtain the information you need right away. When purchasing an automobile, the design, shape, and arrangement of the dashboard might be a deal-breaker.

As a result, a few drivers may want a completely electronic dashboard show, whereas others proceed to screen the rise and drop of a needle; it appears that youthful drivers and ladies, in specific, have an inclination for the computerized sort.

Some drivers desire quite enough data as possible about their driving and their vehicle; those who have displays that provide real-time fuel economy statistics may create a game out striving to achieve their driving with each mile. But the younger generation prefers basic and minimalistic information and design in an easy to understanding format.

Because of the necessity to operate extra technology, such as power mirrors or a sound system, dashboard displays will only grow more diversified in the future.

Future Innovations for Car Dashboards

Electronic Dashboards

Most of the available information on a contemporary dashboard has been made feasible by the electrical revolution of the last 10 years or so. Dashboard displays have also been affected by electronics.

Many automobiles now include digital speedometers that display information as a moving figure or as a diagram, with the engine speed rising up a graph as it increases. Once you’re acclimated to this kind of display, it’s quite simple to record the car’s speed instead of needing to remember the location of a needle on a dial as on an old speedometer.

Radio notification

Many automobiles now include digitized speedometers which present data as a moving figure or even as a diagram, with the engine speed rising up on the chart as it increases. Once you have acclimated to this kind of display, it’s quite simple to record the car’s speed instead of needing to remember the location of a pointer on a display as on an old speedometer.

For the time being, the innovation as it were capacities when the radio is turned on the transmitters abrogate the computer program to supply information. Be that as it may, with the correct radio, a flag from the transmitter may consequently switch on the radio to inform the driver of drawing bigger issues.

Computerized Controlling

One of the benefits of all of these dashes is that they can effectively be coordinated with an onboard car computer and voyage control. This suggests that rather than having data scattered all through the sprint, all of it may be displayed on a single board.

Since showing all potential data on the screen would make the display troublesome to study, as it were the foremost basic data will be shown at all times. When required, advance information will be recovered and appeared.

The inclination with great electrical dashboards is to have an electronic check framework, having fewer people rebellious. The check framework routinely screens basic capacities and cautions the driver on the off chance that any of them are aiming to come up short.

A check framework, or maybe of fair appearing a caution light, may observe between shifting degrees of hazard within the absconds it recognizes and react fittingly. Audi utilizes such an innovation in a few of their most later models.

Dashboard Trends of the Future

The appearance and functionality of instruments may become more intertwined in the future. As wires are reduced, the real change will probably be in the number of wires that feed them.

Caution or Indication Symbols (Lights)

In addition to gauges, modern dashboards contain various lights and icons that you need to understand. Most people are really confused about what to do when one of these lights comes on. Some of them affect your safety and some warning lights require your immediate attention.

Check Engine Indication Lights

It signals that there’s something off-base with the motor. The reasons are numerous, you never know. In case it is blazing ceaselessly, at that point it might require a prompt pullover. In most cases, you might have to visit a mechanic.

Engine overheating, low oil pressure, a loose or broken gas cap, a damaged catalytic converter, a defective sensor, and any issue in the vehicle’s ignition system, such as worn-out spark plugs, are all typical causes.

Engine Temperature Caution Light

It indicates that your car has overheated. When this device ignites, you got to pull over and wait for it to cool.

In numerous cases, it happens since of a deficiency of coolant. It is conceivable that coolant is spilling from someplace. Moreover, you must check for any blame within the radiator fan. Now and then, a deficiency of motor oil may contribute to the engine’s overheating.

Brake Caution Light

This may suddenly show an indication when the parking brake is applied, or when there is a leak in the brake hydraulic system and the brake fluid is inadequate. It can also be due to inefficient braking caused by wear on the brake pads. Modern dashboards may display a clear warning light for worn brake pads.

Oil Pressure Caution Lights

This light will illuminate when there is insufficient lubricating oil or when the oil pump is unable to adequately supply oil to all essential components. You must monitor your engine oil level and replace it as instructed.

Charge Battery Caution Light

It will display if your vehicle’s charging system is not working correctly. The problem might be with the battery or the alternator. In most situations, the alternator belt is discovered to be damaged. It’s up to you to figure out whether the problem lies with your battery and you will see that the lights are becoming dim and that the horn sound is becoming feeble.

Tire Pressure Light

The Tire Pressure Light will inform you on the off chance that your tires are under-inflated or in case they require discussion. It doesn’t say which tire ought to be filled, so you will have to go to the gas station and test all of them until you find one that does.

Because the dashboard is your car’s control panel, it is critical to pay attention to any lights that illuminate when you switch on the vehicle or when driving. YourMechanic provides services that may assist in determining the source of the lights turning on and correcting the condition so that you can drive safely.

Air Suspension Caution Light

This light indicator shows that you might have some sort of flaw in the car’s Air Suspension System. Maybe one of your air suspension sacks contains a spill, or the discuss compressor would be incapable to create sufficient discuss for the packs to grow, diminishing the ride tallness.

In some cases, the tallness sensors may end up giving wrong readings to your vehicle’s computer. So it is prudent to check the stature sensors, to begin with, sometime recently checking the compressor or the bags.

Security Lights

This indicator lights up when there is any problem with the car’s anti-theft system.

High Beam Light Indicator

When we discover it is troublesome to see the street ahead of us when driving, especially when it is dim, we ordinarily switch from moo to tall bar. In any case, utilizing the tall pillar whereas other cars are adjacent isn’t prescribed since it may daze the other drivers. A high beam indicator also gives you a reminder that the high beam light of a car is still turned.

Turn indicator light

This light shines up and acts as an indicator for your vehicle and it has to be manually turned on when the driver needs to make the car move in the left or right direction.

Fluid Water Light Indicator

It indicates that there is not enough water or that it is empty. The driver must then refill the widescreen washer with freshwater to continue using it.


How could someone reset the lights on the dashboard?

It is determined by the kind of warning light. When the problem is fixed, the warning indicators usually reset themselves. Some warning lights may be reset by the service centre by resetting the car’s Electronic Control Unit (ECU).

Can someone drive a car which has a check engine caution light?

You may drive your automobile, even if only for a limited distance, preferably to the servicing centre. Because the specific cause is uncertain, you should avoid travelling long distances whenever the warning light illuminates.
What is the meaning of the car sliding icon?
The vehicle sliding indicator indicates that Traction Control System is activated. It aids in maintaining the vehicle’s stability under difficult driving situations.


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