I've got a Nissan Altima 2008. It is a 2nd hand car, I have had it for 2 years now with no issues.

Recently, the dashboard's lights became "inverted": during the day, the lights are on, and when it gets dark the lights are off.

More precisely, the dashboard backlight does exactly the opposite of what it should be doing: it is not at par with the headlights (but it should). So if my headlights are lit the dashboard will not be backlit, and vice versa.

I tried to turn really quickly the headlights knob, from off to on to off... but it didn't help. I am not a car expert but if this issue can be solved with some easy DIY I would like to have a try so I can learn.

Anyone had this issue before? Can I "open" the dashboard to have a look without breaking anything?

1 Answer 1


It sounds like the dimmer switch is set to off.

The car's dash lights are on a dimmer switch. That switch allows you to change the brightness of the lights at night. The switch is capable of switching the lights from full-off to full-on. Also, it is not uncommon for dashboards to have their lights on during the day, while the regular lights are off. This mode is just for effect and is not bound to the dimmer.

What is happening is that the effect lights are on during the day and then when the headlights come on the dimmer is shutting the dash lights down. Check and turn up the dimmer.

  • thanks! looking for "dimmer switch", looks like this guy fixed it youtube.com/watch?v=47hamlyoa3E ; will let you know how it goes
    – Thomas
    Commented Oct 14, 2019 at 16:34
  • side note: I see what seems to be the airbag on the video, when the guy opens the dashboard. Is there a chance that the airbag won't work anymore if I fix the dimmer switch? is it placed in a special way under the dashboard and only specialists should open the dashboard?
    – Thomas
    Commented Oct 14, 2019 at 16:37
  • 1
    @Thomas What you see is only insulation, not airbag. The airbag is only in the steering wheel on the dashboard. If your vehicle has side impact airbags they might be in the door or seat. If it has side curtains they are usually in the roof. When in doubt, look for the "SRS" logo.
    – vini_i
    Commented Oct 14, 2019 at 19:30
  • For anyone having the same problem some day, don't laugh but finally (learnt from the video) there is a switch to control the dashboard light. The video is about fixing that switch if it doesn't work (and opening the dashboard). In my case I just had to use that switch. I had just never noticed it before. On the nissan altima 2008 it is next to the "open trunk" button.
    – Thomas
    Commented Oct 15, 2019 at 15:11

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