Is modern auto mechanics ready for the full dashboard transplant? Find out.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Mar 01, 2007

Dear Tom and Ray:

I love my 2005 Honda CR-V, except for the dashboard. The numbers on the radio, the digital clock and the odometer -- especially at night -- are way too small and dark for me to see clearly (black on gray -- who ever thought of THAT stupid combination?). Squinting doesn't help, and neither do bifocals. My friend has a Honda Accord, and I can see HIS dashboard just fine! Bright numbers, large enough to see. That was what Honda should have done in MY car. Is it possible to get a great dashboard panel, like the one in the Accord, put into my CR-V? Then I would have pretty nearly the car of my dreams! -- Shay

TOM: Keep dreaming, Shay. You can't do a dashboard transplant. Even the Cleveland Clinic would shy away from this procedure. The pieces just don't fit.

RAY: The reason your dashboard gauges are hard for you to read is that the CR-V was originally designed by a team of young engineers, for an audience of younger buyers. Their first priority was utility. Seeing the dashboard was farther down on the list.

TOM: The Accord, on the other hand, is aimed at a broader swath of the buying public, so the members of its design team over age 40 made sure the instruments were easily readable by folks of all ages.

RAY: But before you give up on your CR-V, Shay, check a couple of things. First, get your eyes examined again. A set of progressive lenses with the right correction might make a difference. It works for me in almost every car. Some dashboards are certainly better than others because of contrast, colors and lighting. But when I'm wearing glasses with the right prescription, I can always tell how fast I'm going when I miss my exit.

TOM: The other thing to check is the intensity adjustment for your dashboard lights. On most cars, the controller is located on the dashboard to the left of the steering wheel, or poking out of the instrument cluster itself. Turning it adjusts the brightness of the instrumentation. Make sure it's turned to its highest setting. If it's not, you might have set off your "Argh, I'm a geezer!" alarm prematurely.

Get the Car Talk Newsletter

Got a question about your car?

Ask Someone Who Owns One