Dashboard lights cutting out


#1

Here’s a quandary for those who know more than I do:

I have a 2000 Mazda Protege with 182,000 miles on it. On occasion my dashboard lights (and radio, for that matter) cut out, going completely dark. Now here’s the kicker: If I give the dashboard a little tap with my hand, everything comes back all glowing and lit.

My fear had been the alternator was going bad (Again!), but since it seems to be coming back with a bop on the dashboard…is this just a loose ground? What should I be looking for? Is this something a novice like myself could be taking care of, or where should I be directing my mechanic?

Thank you so much in advance, let me know if I can provide any other information.


#2

I should add this has been happening on and off for a few months.


#3

I suspect a faulty headlight switch. Just a guess, but this is a good place to start. The next time you lose the lights, fiddle with this switch. Rotate it, tap it, on/off/on again. See if these efforts affect the lighting. Let us know.


#4

I agree with the loose ground idea. Or a fuse that’s broken. First, check the fuse. They are all marked. You could just replace all the ones related to instrument panel lighting. They are cheap and pretty easy to deal with.

If that doesn’t help then you have to find the ground for the instrument lighting. I can’t help you on that.


#5

Probably a failing rheostat. (dash dimmer)
This may be part of the main lighting switch or a separate switch. Try playing around with that a bit on the offchance that the switch being stationary so long may have led to scaled over or burnt contacts in the rheostat.

If that’s the problem and you don’t want to replace it then the wires at the rheostat can be easily jumped to eliminate the problem and this will mean that the dash lights stay on full bright all of the time. Most people keep them that way anyhow.


#6

If you can get at the contact portion of the switch, a little tv tuner cleaner (if you can even get it anymore) will do wonders for cleaning up the contact surfaces and restoring the function.