The instrument cluster voltage regulator is an electronic component that is found on certain cars and trucks. As it’s name implies, it regulates the voltage to the vehicle’s instrument cluster, the speedometer and gauges. The instrument cluster is one of the most important components when it comes to operating the vehicle, as it is the display that that gives the driver a visual indicator of the vehicle’s speed and engine vitals. When there are issues with the gauge cluster, the driver may be left without important information on the state of the engine’s running conditions. Usually a faulty instrument voltage regulator will produce a few symptoms that can alert the driver of a potential issue.
1. Dim or flickering gauges
One of the first symptoms of an issue with the voltage regulator is dim or flickering gauges. The voltage regulator provides power to the gauges, and can cause it shine dimly or flicker if it has an issue. In certain cases the gauges and indicators may still function, however it may be difficult to read the instrument cluster, especially while driving in low light or night time situations.
2. Inaccurate or erratic readings
Another symptom of an issue with the voltage regulator is inaccurate or erratic readings from the voltage regulator. If the voltage regulator has an issue it can cause the gauge to display inaccurate or erratic readings. The numbers on the displays, or the needles, may change rapidly or cut on and off erratically. This will also make it difficult to read the instrument cluster, and signal that the regulator may be near the end of it’s service life.
3. Inoperable instrument cluster
An inoperable instrument cluster is another symptom of a possible issue with the vehicle’s instrument voltage regulator. If the instrument voltage regulator fails completely, power to the cluster will be disabled and it will cease to function. In some instances the vehicle may start up and drive, however the driver will be left without any information from the cluster in case a problem occurs, and without a functioning speedometer, which apart from being unsafe, is also illegal in many jurisdictions.
Voltage regulators are not found on all vehicles, however they serve an important function for the ones they are found on. It is important to note that similar symptoms can also be produced by electrical issues, so a proper diagnosis from a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic, is recommended in order to determine if the regulator should be replaced.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Instrument Voltage Regulator and was authored by Eduardo Ruelas.