2003 Accord Speedometer/Radio Dim Light

Hi everyone!
I have a question that I was hoping someone might know how to fix. I own a 03 Honda Accord Coupe, 4Cyl, Manual with 130,000 miles.
For the past 4 months now, the light on the speedometer and the light
in the radio clock, a/c and all those lights in the head unit knobs have been starting to go in and out. While I am driving, one minute everything is very bright and easy to see and then sometimes the become very dim and I can barely read all my gauges. What might this be?
Thank you!
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In article

Failing fuse?
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On 1/2/2011 9:42 PM, Elmo P. Shagnasty wrote:

Doubt that's the case. Those are typically "Go / No Go"
I'd think maybe a failing rheostat in the instrument panel.
Does it only happen when the parking lights or headlights are on? If so, that suggests the rheostat.
If, OTOH, you can detect the same pattern or bright/dim/off, etc. when you're tooling down the street with the lights off, then I don't know what to tell you.
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"Dddudley" wrote

If the rheostat is dirty, rotating the control knob back and forth may clean it out.
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wrote:

that's my first choice. they can get intermittent. some electronic contact cleaner spray may help.

then I'd suspect a bad ground somewhere,or a bad/dirty connector.
--
Jim Yanik
jyanik
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Thanks for your reply folks.
The dim lights are fine when the head lights are turned off, but when they are turned on, sometimes the inside of the car is bright, the lights on the radio, a/c, and all those gauges are fine and the Speedometer lights are fine. While I am driving on the expressway, it the dim goes in and out, sometimes it is bright like it should be and then sometimes it is about 75 percent dim and I can barely read the display. There is a huge difference in brightness.
Most cars seem to have a switch to change the brightness of a dim, but for some reason it does not seem that Honda's do. My Civic did not have one and neither does this Accord.
I remember a few years ago there was a letter sent out from Honda that stated that they were issuing a recall on radio/light system, but they only fixed this probably if the car no more then 100k miles. Maybe this is the problem?
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My 2001 and now my 2011 Accord's both have/had a knob for changing the brightness of the dash lights. Right there in the gauge cluster. The button that you press to cycle through the trip meters, turn it...
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Thanks for your reply, I never noticed that before. That is odd, normally when I messed with it seemed to only switch the travel for mileage. I just went out to my garage and turned on the headlights and saw that it does change the dim of the lights, now this is something that I never touched, so the reason it dims while I drive is probably as you said the cluster. Does this piece need to be replaced or is there something in the actual board that may have a circuit issue?
Tomorrow night when I head to work I will mess with this while I drive when the dim goes out and see if anything happens when I switch the nob. I driven Honda's for the last 6 years and figured that they had no switch to do this. Most cars have the dimmer on the steering wheel column.
Thanks Seth!

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Most Hondas have a rotary dial on the instrument panel.
You need to make sure the knob or whatnot is /not/ turned all the way to the extreme end of its travel. There is a known issue with some models where the dash lights will flicker or randomly change brightness if the dimmer is placed all the way to the very end of its travel.
--
Tegger

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Hey Tegger,
I am so glad that you are on this group, you are always such a big help. You helped me once on a 93 Civic that I had that I was not sure if it was the rubber boot or the c/v axle that needed to be replaced, of course it was the c/v axle too like you said it was. I miss that car, sadly some neighbour hit the car while it was parked in front of my house and completely toteled it.
So tonight while I was driving the Accord I noticed with the dimmer on high and and then just moved just a tad, the light was at the same brightness as when it was flickering bright/low/bright/low and probably when I set the miles for a trip I did not turn it enough. It is on as far as it goes, I heard a click. Tomorrow I have a 105 mile drive, so I will see if it works perfectly fine.
Thanks for the help man!

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On 1/6/2011 2:38 PM Tegger spake these words of knowledge:

Also, the brightness of the interior lights/display will automatically reduce itself when you turn the headlights on - but if you turn this knob all the way to the right, the interior brightness will not reduce when you turn on the headlights. This is by design, and is explained on page 72 of my '04 manual.
RFT!!! Dave Kelsen
--
The sentencing guidelines for killing time must be incredibly redundant.

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And the Honda docs I have say to make sure the knob isn't actually right up against the stop, but just slightly off from that.
It's a bit surprising how many cars are sold into the used-car market bereft of their Owner's Manuals. What do their former owners do with those documents?
--
Tegger

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Yes, it seems a lot of the time who ever purchases a car brand new take the manual out of the glove department.

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well, consider: it's amazing how many cars are sold into the NEW car market to owners who never crack open the owner's manual.
Therefore, there is zero distinction in this regard between new car buyers and used car buyers.
And in fact, what happens to these manuals is they get thrown away when the new owner needs more room in the glove compartment.
After all, everybody knows how to drive a car, right? Nobody needs to read an owner's manual of a car, right?
Some bleeding hearts here think I'm being cruel when I say "fuck off" to people who come in here and ask me to spoon-feed them the information that's in the owner's manual for their shiny new $30,000 toy. "Oh, this little light thingy just came on in my instrument panel of my 2010 El Supremo Deluxe, it only has SIX THOUSAND MILES on it, I don't know what this light is, help me, help me!" they cry.
I have zero sympathy for people who are that stupid.
And if you buy a car used and it doesn't have a manual with it, you can order one from the manufacturer or his representative. Consider that when you consider what you want to pay for the car. No manual in a modern gadget-infested car means you're using about 10% of what you bought. You might as well have bought a brand-new base Kia to transport yourself from point A to point B.
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Elmo P. Shagnasty wrote:

In Texas we say;
"Sometimes you can enlighten the ignorant."
"The only cure for 'stupid' is one behind the ear!"
Thought that you would appreciate this...
Ye'r welcome!
JT
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Oh I agree, some people think they can just drive a car and only need to put gas in it... I only disagree with the 10 percent part. When anyone buys a car whether it be new or used, they should always learn all the features and find out what every option does on their vehicle. For my last two cars I purchased the Haynes Automotive Repair Manual. Do most of you guys consider these a good source for basic work? They have helped me a lot in the past and offer much more details then the standard owners manual.
wrote:

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I'll bet many could be found in the owner's domicile. Taken in at the time of purchase with the intention of reading them (which never happens) and they are never returned to the vehicle...Ya think mebbe???? DaveD

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They are probably taken out and sold on ebay, haha...
Taken in at the time of purchase with the intention of reading them (which never happens) and

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"mopa" wrote

Your Owner's Manual explains this. Look in the index under "Instrument Panel Brightness." If your 2003 Accord manual is the same as my 2004, you'll find it on page 76.
As they say, RTFM.
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Is the dimmer wheel turned all the way to one extreme or the other? Try rotating the wheel so it's just slightly off its rotational limit.
--
Tegger

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