For business applications, see
In business computer information systems, a dashboard is a type of graphical user interface which often provides at-a-glance views of key performance indicators (KPIs) relevant to a particular objective or business process. In other usage, "das ...
A dashboard (also called dash, instrument panel (IP), or fascia) is a control panel
set within the central console
A vehicle (from la, vehiculum) is a machine that transports people or cargo. Vehicles include wagons, bicycles, motor vehicles (motorcycles, cars, trucks, buses, mobility scooters for disabled people), railed vehicles (trains, trams), wat ...
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air. It counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines. ...
. Usually located directly ahead of the driver (or
An aircraft pilot or aviator is a person who controls the flight of an aircraft by operating its directional flight controls. Some other aircrew members, such as navigators or flight engineers, are also considered aviators, because they ar ...
), it displays instrumentation and controls for the vehicle's operation.
Originally, the word ''dashboard'' applied to a barrier of wood or leather fixed at the front of a horse-drawn
A carriage is a private four-wheeled vehicle for people and is most commonly horse-drawn. Second-hand private carriages were common public transport, the equivalent of modern cars used as taxis. Carriage suspensions are by leather strapping an ...
A sled, skid, sledge, or sleigh is a land vehicle that slides across a surface, usually of ice or snow. It is built with either a smooth underside or a separate body supported by two or more smooth, relatively narrow, longitudinal runners s ...
to protect the driver from mud or other debris "dashed up" (thrown up) by the horses' hooves. The first known use of the term (hyphenated as ''dash-board'', and applied to sleighs) dates from 1847. Commonly these boards did not perform any additional function other than providing a convenient handhold for ascending into the driver's seat, or a small clip with which to secure the reins when not in use.
When the first " horseless carriage
s" were constructed in the late 19th century
, with engines mounted beneath the driver such as the Daimler Stahlradwagen
, the simple dashboard was retained to protect occupants from debris thrown up by the cars' front wheels. However, as car design evolved to position the motor in front of the driver, the dashboard became a panel that protected vehicle occupants from the heat and oil of the engine. With gradually increasing mechanical complexity, this panel formed a convenient location for the placement of gauges and minor controls, and from this evolved the modern instrument panel, although retaining its
Archaic is a period of time preceding a designated classical period, or something from an older period of time that is also not found or used currently:
* List of archaeological periods
**Archaic Sumerian language, spoken between 31st - 26th cen ...
The first mass-produced automobile, the Oldsmobile Curved Dash
, got its name from its dashboard, which was curved like that of a sleigh.
Where the dashboard originally included an array of simple controls (e.g., the
A steering wheel (also called a driving wheel (UK), a hand wheel, or simply wheel) is a type of steering control in vehicles.
Steering wheels are used in most modern land vehicles, including all mass-production automobiles, buses, light and ...
) and instrumentation to show speed, fuel level and oil pressure, the modern dashboard may accommodate a broad array of gauges, and controls as well as information, climate control and entertainment systems.
Contemporary dashboards may include the
A speedometer or speed meter is a gauge that measures and displays the instantaneous speed of a vehicle. Now universally fitted to motor vehicles, they started to be available as options in the early 20th century, and as standard equipment ...
An odometer or odograph is an instrument used for measuring the distance traveled by a vehicle, such as a bicycle or car. The device may be electronic, mechanical, or a combination of the two (electromechanical). The noun derives from ancient Gr ...
, engine coolant temperature gauge, and fuel gauge
, turn indicators, gearshift position indicator, seat belt warning light, parking-brake warning light, and engine-malfunction lights. Heavy vehicles that feature air brakes
, such as trucks and buses will also have gauges to indicate the available air pressure in the braking system. Other features may include a gauge for alternator voltage, indicators for low fuel, low oil pressure, low tire pressure and faults in the airbag (SRS) systems,
A glove compartment or glove box is a compartment built into the dashboard of an automobile, located over the front-seat passenger's footwell, and often used for miscellaneous storage. The name derives from the original purpose of the compart ...
, ashtray and a cigarette lighter or power outletas well as heating and ventilation systems, lighting controls, safety systems, entertainment equipment and information systems, e.g., navigation systems
Padding and safety
Stellantis North America (officially FCA US and formerly Chrysler ()) is one of the " Big Three" automobile manufacturers in the United States, headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan. It is the American subsidiary of the multinational automotiv ...
Dodge is an American brand of automobiles and a division of Stellantis, based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Dodge vehicles have historically included performance cars, and for much of its existence Dodge was Chrysler's mid-priced brand above P ...
Plymouth () is a port city and unitary authority in South West England. It is located on the south coast of Devon, approximately south-west of Exeter and south-west of London. It is bordered by Cornwall to the west and south-west.
cars came with a safety dashboard that was flat, raised above knee height, and had all the controls mounted flush.
Padded dashboards were advocated in the 1930s by
Automotive safety is the study and practice of design, construction, equipment and regulation to minimize the occurrence and consequences of traffic collisions involving motor vehicles. Road traffic safety more broadly includes roadway design ...
pioneer Claire L. Straith
. In 1948, the Tucker 48
became the first car with a padded dashboard.
One of the safety enhancements of the 1970s was the widespread adoption of padded dashboards. The padding is commonly
Polyurethane (; often abbreviated PUR and PU) refers to a class of polymers composed of organic units joined by carbamate (urethane) links. In contrast to other common polymers such as polyethylene and polystyrene, polyurethane is produced from ... foam
Foams are materials formed by trapping pockets of gas in a liquid or solid.
A bath sponge and the head on a glass of beer are examples of foams. In most foams, the volume of gas is large, with thin films of liquid or solid separating the r ...
, while the surface is commonly either polyvinyl chloride
(PVC) or leather in the case of luxury models.
In the early and mid-1990s,
An airbag is a vehicle occupant-restraint system using a bag designed to inflate extremely quickly, then quickly deflate during a collision. It consists of the airbag cushion, a flexible fabric bag, an inflation module, and an impact sensor. Th ...
s became a standard feature of steering wheels and dashboards.
Fashion in instrumentation
In the 1940s through the 1960s, American car manufacturers and their imitators designed aesthetically shaped instruments on a dashboard accented with chrome and transparent plastic, which could be less readable, but was often thought to be more stylish. Sunlight could cause a bright glare on the chrome, particularly for a convertible. On North American vehicles in particular, this trend lingered on until the late-1980s, which still featured dashboards with wood and fake chrome embellishment along with square instruments - long after European and Japanese manufacturers had long embraced a plainer, more functional and austere approach for dashboard and instrument panel design.
With the advent of the VFD
A light-emitting diode (LED) is a semiconductor device that emits light when current flows through it. Electrons in the semiconductor recombine with electron holes, releasing energy in the form of photons. The color of the light (cor ...
in consumer electronics, some manufacturers used instruments with digital readouts to make their cars appear more up to date. Some cars use a
A head-up display, or heads-up display, also known as a HUD (), is any transparent display that presents data without requiring users to look away from their usual viewpoints. The origin of the name stems from a pilot being able to view informa ...
to project the speed of the car onto the windscreen in imitation of fighter aircraft, but in a far less complex display.
In recent years, spurred on by the growing aftermarket use of dash kits, many automakers have taken the initiative to add more stylistic elements to their dashboards. One prominent example of this is the Chevrolet Sonic which offers both exterior (e.g., a custom graphics package) and interior cosmetic upgrades.
In addition to OEM dashboard trim and upgrades a number of companies offer domed polyurethane or vinyl applique dash trim accent kits or "dash kits".
Manufacturers such as BMW
is a Japanese Public company, public multinational corporation, multinational Conglomerate (company), conglomerate manufacturer of automobiles, motorcycles, and power equipment, headquartered in Minato, Tokyo, Japan.
Honda has been the world ...
is a Japanese multinational automotive manufacturer headquartered in Toyota City, Aichi, Japan. It was founded by Kiichiro Toyoda and incorporated on . Toyota is one of the largest automobile manufacturers in the world, producing about 10 ...
Mercedes-Benz (), commonly referred to as Mercedes and sometimes as Benz, is a German luxury and commercial vehicle automotive brand established in 1926. Mercedes-Benz AG (a Mercedes-Benz Group subsidiary established in 2019) is headquartere ...
have included fuel-economy gauges in some instrument clusters, showing fuel mileage in real time, which was limited mainly to luxury vehicles and later, hybrids. Following a focus on increasing fuel economy in the late 2000s along with increased technology, most vehicles in the 2010s now come with either real-time or average mileage readouts on their dashboards. The
An ammeter (abbreviation of ''Ampere meter'') is an instrument used to measure the current in a circuit. Electric currents are measured in amperes (A), hence the name. For direct measurement, the ammeter is connected in series with the circuit ...
was the gauge of choice for monitoring the state of the charging system until the 1970s. Later it was replaced by the
A voltmeter is an instrument used for measuring electric potential difference between two points in an electric circuit. It is connected in parallel. It usually has a high resistance so that it takes negligible current from the circuit.
. Today most family vehicles have warning lights instead of voltmeters or oil pressure gauges in their dashboard instrument clusters, though sports cars often have proper gauges for performance purposes and driver appeasement along with larger trucks, mainly to monitor system function during heavy usage such as towing or off-road usage.
* Air core gauge
A binnacle is a waist-high case or stand on the deck of a ship, generally mounted in front of the helmsman, in which navigational instruments are placed for easy and quick reference as well as to protect the delicate instruments. Its traditional ...
Vehicle audio is equipment installed in a car or other vehicle to provide in-car entertainment and information for the vehicle occupants. Until the 1950s it consisted of a simple AM radio. Additions since then have included FM radio (1952), 8- ...
A carputer, or car-puter, is a computer with specializations to run in a car, such as compact size, low power requirement, and some customized components. The computing hardware is typically based on standard PCs or mobile devices. They normally ha ...
* Control panel
* Control stand
* Electronic instrument cluster
* Flight instruments
* GM Instrument Cluster Settlement
An automotive head unit, sometimes called the infotainment system, is a component providing a unified hardware interface for the system, including screens, buttons and system controls for numerous integrated information and entertainment func ...
* In car entertainment
* Vehicular communication systems
Dashboard head units