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Faulty Instrument Cluster? Signs Of Trouble Every Driver Should Know

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Until it malfunctions, most drivers probably know little or nothing about a small component on their General Motors (GM) vehicle known as the instrument cluster. Modern car designs now feature robust electrical components and computerized systems, one of which is the instrument cluster.

This auto component allows the driver to monitor the critical systems of the vehicle through visual panels and readouts, usually built into the dash area. When a malfunction or issue develops, the driver is shown an easily recognizable symbol or message to alert them of the problem. 

When the instrument cluster malfunctions, however, the messages and symbols drivers rely on to drive safely may be altered or become unreadable. Since this means the driver may unknowingly be operating a vehicle that has become unsafe or one that has a looming mechanical or electrical issue developing, learning to recognize the signs of instrument cluster failure is important. 

Speedometer problems 

One of the most common signs that the instrument cluster has become defective is noting changes in the speedometer. Some of the most common problems involving the speedometer include:

  • noting wild fluctuations in the speed readout, even though you are maintaining a steady speed
  • failure of the back-lighting behind the speedometer and gauges, rendering them difficult or impossible to read
  • a stuck speedometer needle or reading, or when the odometer ceases to continue moving or moves suddenly in large increments

Driving without a working speedometer is inconvenient and even costly, especially if the problem results in being pulled over and given a ticket for speeding. Drivers who note sudden problems with their speedometer, tachometer, or other gauges should be on alert for other problems soon afterward. 

Additional symptoms of failure

When a vehicle's instrument cluster is defective, there can be many additional symptoms, some of which may make the vehicle inoperable or unsafe to drive. These include: 

  • instances when the vehicle shuts down unexpectedly while being driven
  • instances when the vehicle refuses to start
  • failure of the gas gauge or low-fuel warning light
  • failure of audio alerts, such as the buzzer for an unbuckled seat belt or when a door is ajar

Instrument cluster failures can also lead to sporadic lighting of visual warning symbols for low tires, battery, overheating, and many others. 

Drivers who note any of these or similar unexplained issues with their vehicle can get advice or schedule a repair by visiting a certified GMC instrument cluster repair service in their area.