CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

09 civic dash lights

09 civic lx 1100 miles. I turned on my headlights today in the fog and the dash lights became only half as bright as when the headlights are off.



Everything works just dim for some reason. Also, when I turn right I can hear a buzz or zap for a second or two. Not sure if they are related. I’m going to take it into the shop but was curious what is causing it. Hope I don’t get a fire as I usually park in my garage. Thanks.

That sounds like normal operation to me. Normally when you turn the headlights on it is dark, so you need the dash lighting to be dimmer, or you couldn’t see well at night. With the lights off, the dash lighting is at full brightness (or on some cars it is off). With the lights on, the dash lighting is controlled by the dash dimmer. Try adjusting the dimmer to a brighter setting.

I don’t have a dimmer - I thought that I might have hit the dimmer switch accidentally but no switch. Also, up until today the dash lights were brighter with the headlights on. The car has a digital speedometer and I can barely read it now with the headlights on. I might just learn to live with it as I don’t want the dealer to be taking everything apart and causing more problems. At least the engine works ok - for now.

You have a dimmer, you just don’t know where it is. Read the owner’s manual. I suspect it was turned to full brightness before, and has now been bumped to a lower setting.

The dimmer on my 2006 Sienna is built into the Odometer reset button on the instrument panel. Perhaps your Honda has something similar, time to read the Owner’s manual.

Ed B.

On my Outback, if the headlights are turned on during the day, the lighting for the audio system and the automatic climate control system come on at half-brightness. I suspect that your car is designed in a similar fashion.

On my car, you can override the dimming of the dash lights during the day, and I imagine that you can too. I learned how to override the dimming by reading my Owner’s Manual. May I suggest that you open your glove compartment, take out that book, and read at least the section relevant to this topic?

As to the noise that you are hearing, that is something that needs to be investigated by the dealer (WARRANTY!!)–unlike the situation with your dash lighting, which is probably perfectly normal.

It’s a brand new car. If you think there is problem take the car back to the Honda dealer and let them fix it.

You shouldn’t hear buzzing or zapping. Don’t take chances. Take it to the dealer.