Dimming of dash lights when headlights come on

I have a 2014Lincoln MKZ. This problem exists in my wife’s Jeep Compass, My Saturn Sky Redline, and my wife’s former 2008 Toyota Matrix. Why on earth do the dash lights on care dim when the headlights come on? Especially ones with the automatic function? My 2008 Chrysler Cirrus at least let you keep the the dash lights on with an extra turn of the headlight switch. What gives? To me it’s stupid.

All cars do that so your night vison is not affected with a bright dash while looking into a dark night. EVERY car has an adjustment to brighten or darken the night intensity of the dash. The location of that control is found in your owners manual.


Mustangman said it perfectyly and if you drove a lot on unlit two lane roads you would be glad they did that. I used to carry a roll of black electrical tape to wrap the edge of those lights when I drove truck so the bottom front side marker lights on my trailer did not shine in my mirrors.

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Yep exactly my thoughts too. Plus any warning lights, which are typically not dimmable, stand out more noticeably with the bulk of the dash illumination dimmed.

I suspect that the OP’s thoughts are quite prevalent though - every person who’s ridden with me at night has asked if something is wrong with my car because I have my dash lights at the lowest setting…

Also it’s not just cars that do this. Pretty much any modern screen (TV, computer monitor, phone/tablet) reduces its light output when the surroundings are darker to reduce glare and eye strain a.k.a. improve comfort.

If you set it that way, yes. You can choose not to auto-dim on most devices.

If they didn’t do that, I suspect you’d be here saying how stupid it is that the bright dash lights are distracting you when you’re driving on a dark road at night.


So why didn’t any cars before 2008 or so dim the dash lights? With so many having auto-on headlamps, have the dah lights dim during the day is unsafe, hazardous, and ridiculous. I always kept the dash lights on high. If they got bothersome, I spun the little dial/knob down to a comfortable level. I wish the car companies would let the drivers decide how bright the das lights should be. This decision of theirs ranks right down with their “paddle shift” and select shift automatic trannys that refuse to shift when you want to.

Oldtimer_11 - I lived on a farm for half my life and in Tanzania. In both places the only lighting was your own. Even tho’ I suffer from acute light sensitivity (I can drive quite well at night during full moons without headlights. Stupid, but doable.) having the dash lights dim is even MORE distracting.

The dash illumination level is adjustable.

Saturn Sky;

Jeep Compass;

Toyota Matrix;

And on your Lincoln

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Not sure what is going on here ? If someone is light sensitive it seems that having dimmer lights would be what they want . Also maybe this person might want to browse their owners manual for other things they might not be aware of.

ALL of them did. ALL of them. When the lights came on, the dash lights dim. My '84 with its digital dash did this. My 2001 with its digital dash did this. My 2007 with its automatic lights did this.

The earlier cars without digital dashboards did not have ANY dash lights at all on when the headlights were turned off.


@Mustangman beat me to it - this is because of the digital lights on modern dashes. Older cars without them had no lights on during the day.

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Doesn’t work. The headlights come on and the dash lights dim. In neither car will they stay at the setting I choose.

Not the cars I owned. Headlights on, dash lights stayed at the same setting. There was no computer controlling both. Two circuits, two switches, two sets of lamps. My 61 Ford, 68 Ford, my 69 Ford, my 72 Ford, my 77 Ford, my 78 Dodge, my 81 Dodge, my 84 Dodge, My 87 Dodge, my 93 Dodge etc.

How hard is it to just use the brightness control and make them brighter ?

Or find a restored vehicle from your list .

The brightness controls are set to high, full on, no dimming.

I give up . Your first post seemed that you were upset because the dash lights dimmed when the headlights came on . Now you say the brightness controls are too high .

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the above diagrams show you how to lower or brighten the dash lights. I do not see your problem.