If you remember the term "idiot lights" you go back long enough to have experienced several fashion and design seasons of dashboards. Is there such a thing as a fashionable dashboard?
The dashboard was originally meant to monitor the vital statistics/signs of the car. How fast are you going, the purist wanted a tachometer, and other gauges.
Later in the evolution of cars, the heating controls, as well as the radio made their way into the dashboard. It was all mechanical with various cables to operate the speedometer, open and close valves and flaps, and so on.
We could keep on going, but its easy grasp that we have come a long way.
The Mechanical Dashboard
The essential were the tachometer, speedometer, temperature, oil pressure, ammeter, gas gauge. You needed to know your speed, how fast the engine was turning, the water temperature, the oil pressure and so on.
The proponents of idiot lights would say that its too many gauges to monitor, most folks had no clue what was going on, and a shining red light would graps their attention sooner than a reading dropping on a gauge.
The proponent of gauges would say that by the time the idiot light came on, it was too late and had no clue what had developed to turn on the light.
The dashboard with gauges, usually a black background with white markings and needle was not easy to read in a race car scenario. The strategy was that if everything was normal the needles would all point in the same direction. Usually up...all the needles are up...its all cool.
Some manufacturers initiated the philosophy that the dashboards in their cars would have the same layout for the various gauges and controls. The idea was that the owner of that brand of vehicles should not go crazy or experience a new learning curve with a new dashboard layout.
Dasboard in 2016
They are literally all over the place. Its fascinating to see the innovation, creativity of today's dashboards, and especially the center screen. As well as the lack of intuitiveness on some of the controls. At the same time they have come a long way, and the "idiot lights" are numerous for a bunch of stuff.
Which begs the question do most folks know what is going on with their vehicle and the various lights in the dashboard?
What do you think?