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Subaru Dash Lights Out


The dash lights went out on (in) my 1998 Subaru Forester. I checked all the fuses that seemed appropriate (based on the cryptic descriptions under the lids), and they were all fine. The manual does not discuss the dash lights (bad sign), although many of the others are noted.

Any advice? Thanks!

Pitt Cairn

There’s very likely a dimmer control somewhere in that mess of dials, buttons, and lights in front of the driver. Someone may have turned it down or off. After ten years, it may have developed a bad spot. Adjusting it slightly might bring the dash lights back.

Other than that, I think you’ll need a wiring diagram, the skill to read it, and very likely the cheapest voltmeter you can find. Analog meters are not only cheaper than digital meters, the are better than digital for this sort of thing.


I looked for the dash dimmer, but I’ll look again.

This can’t be just a fuse/bulb?


It’s likely either the dash dimmer or the main lighting (headlight) switch. The main lighting switch feeds the rheostat (dash dimmer).

Before wading too deep into this and suspecting a parts failure, make sure the dash dimmer has not been inadvertently brushed by a hand and the dash lights turned off by accident.
That does happen on a somewhat regular basis.

Of course it can be just a fuse. Less likely a bulb because there is probably more than one.

The wiring diagram will help with that also if you can read it. It will show all the fuses, etc. But watch out for the names for the same fuse being different on the wiring diagram than on the fuse labels. e.g. “Illumination” in one place, “cabin lights” in the other. The otherwise largely useless Haynes Manual that can be purchased at most parts stores has wiring diagrams. But I’m not sure how easy they are for someone who is not used to electrical schematics to read.

While I also vote for the dimmer switch first, second in my book would be a poor ground connection.

Fuses don’t wear out. Fuses generally last the life of the car unless there is a short, in which case replacing the fuse will just mean blowing out the new fuse. If a fuse is bad, chances are there is a reason it is bad and you should look for that reason.

Hi All,

I had a chance to go over the dash in the daylight and find and fiddle with the dimmer switch, and (much to my embarassment) voila!

This is why I work on houses and not cars.


Coming on the back of this-

The light behind my speedometer has just gone - the revs still has illumination it’s just the left half of the dash (Aussie car)

Have checked a few fuses hoping it’s a simple switch - however thinking it may now be a bulb - I know nothing about cars that I haven’t learnt off YouTube so would love some advice!


It almost surely is a burned-out bulb.
The problem, in many cases, is being able to access that bulb in order to replace it.
Clearances inside the bowels of the instrument panel can be incredibly small.