Why Do They Call it a Dashboard?

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Why Do They Call it a Dashboard?

Ever wonder where they came up with the term “dashboard” for that part of your vehicle that sits behind the steering wheel?

That name began back before cars were even invented.  People used to travel by horse and buggy, and streets weren’t as well built as they are today.  On a muddy road (which was sometimes just a couple of ruts alongside a field), it wasn’t unusual for those inside the buggy to have mud and stones “dashed” (knocked, thrown, or hurled) in their direction.

So those who built carriages began installing a board to protect them.  That became known as the dashboard. The word carriage got shortened to car, and the dashboard is sometimes shortened to dash.  Today, the dashboard sits behind and below the windshield that houses various controls and instruments.

In addition to the speedometer, tachometer, and gas gauge, there are warning lights you need to pay attention to on your dashboard and instrument panel. (You may have gauges for some of these, but it’s still important for you to keep an eye on them.)  Here are some examples:

Oil pressure—This lets you know if you have had a drop in oil pressure in your engine.  Low oil pressure means your engine parts aren’t getting lubricated as they should, and this can cause serious damage. Call your service advisor immediately; you may damage your vehicle if you drive it in this condition any further.

Check Engine light—If you see this one (it usually looks like an engine), it means one or more sensors in your vehicle has detected an abnormal situation.  Again, you should have this checked out as soon as possible.  A technician at your service facility can read a code stored in your vehicle that will point towards the issue.  If the Check Engine Light is flashing, there is something wrong that could lead to serious damage – so get it checked out right away.

Brake light—If this is illuminated, your parking brake may be on, or there may be a more serious problem like low brake fluid or hydraulic system issues.  Check your parking brake and if it isn’t on and the light is, make sure to get it checked asap.

Tire pressure—Newer vehicles have tire pressure monitors (TPMS) built in that will tell you if any of your tires are over or underinflated.  Both conditions need to be checked out.  If the TPMS light is flashing, the system itself needs attention.

Of course, there a many more warning lights.  You should get your vehicle checked as so as you can.  Here are some critical warning lights for which it is recommended that you have your vehicle towed to your AutoCare Canter:  Oil Light, Temp(erature) Light, Charging (Batt) Light, and Brake Light if pedal performance is low.  These warning lights indicate a condition which could cause serious engine damage, leave you stranded, or with unsafe brakes.

Things were sure simpler back in the horse and carriage days, but it’s a good thing today’s dashboard can tell you all these things about your complicated vehicle.

We at NAPA AutoCare want to make sure your driving experience is trouble- and worry-free.  Consult us for all of your vehicle maintenance and repair needs.

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