2010 Mazda5 headlight safety issue

mhkatzmhkatz Posts: 2
edited August 2014 in Mazda
I just replaced my 2007 Mazda5 Sport with a 2010 Mazda5 Sport. On my 2007, and on all cars I have ever driven, the instrument panel only lights up when the headlights are turned on. If you forget to turn on the headlights, you figure it out very quickly because the instrument panel is dark. On my 2010 Mazda5, the instrument panel lights up automatically when it is dark or even just overcast outside. The headlight switch has no effect on the lighting of the instrument panel. As a result, I have driven the car with the headlights off on more than one occassion, and so has my wife. I checked the manual, and it says that the headlight switch is supposed to also turn on the lighting on the instrument panel. I called this to the attention of my dealership and Mazda Customer Assistance, and both told me that it is functioning normally and is probably just a design change. I feel that this is extremely unsafe, as it is far too easy to drive with the headlights off without knowing it. Has anyone else here experienced this issue? Do you think it is normal or safe for the instrument panel to light up automatically when the headlights are off?


  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    There is an indicator light that will illuminate when your head lights are on. Look in your "smart start guide" the car came with. In the instrument cluster, you will see this icon.
  • mhkatzmhkatz Posts: 2
    The "smart start guide" only confirms my point that the controls are not working as intended. Page 9 clearly states that selecting either the parking light setting or the headlight setting turns the dashboard lights on. This does not actually happen in my 2010 Mazda5 because the dashboard lights are already on automatically.

    This is an accident (or many) waiting to happen. There is a huge difference between having to look for a small indicator on the dashboard vs. not being to drive because you can't see the dashboard. The latter forces you to notice that he headlights are off, which is how cars have been designed for decades.

    I think this is a bug which Mazda is spinning as a design change. Even their manual confirms this.
  • r2kr2k Posts: 25
    edited December 2010
    Not knowing how long you have had your 2010 Sport, I don’t know if you have figured out there is an “instrument cluster dimmer” knob in the lower left-hand quadrant of the speedometer, just to the left of the odometer/trip meter display. This is shown on page 7 in the smart start guide. Some posters on another forum weren’t aware of this, they thought the instrument cluster backlight was ‘broken’ until they figured it out.

    The instrument cluster back lighting is on at all times when the key is in the ‘run’ position, but the brightness is controlled by the knob mentioned above.

    On my 2010 Sport, this has to be turned up on full bright during the day, as the speedo and other gauges are not very visible on a sunny day, or even an overcast day unless the back-light is on full.

    If it’s dark, then of course the headlights would be on. Note that some of the controls shown on the turn signal lever on page 9 of the quick start guide only pertain to the Grand Touring Model, such as the headlights auto-on feature.

    When going from a parking lights/headlights off to on, the instrument cluster lights will go from being full bright to a lower level (seems pre-set). If the lights off setting has been lowered for some reason, the backlight will still dim down from whatever the current ‘daylight’ setting is.

    At night, if the brightness had been set to full up for the day time, even the dimmer mode is too bright, so it has to be turned down as not to be so bright. When turning the knob from full-bright down, it beeps, and also beeps when turned from just below full bright to full, but only if the headlights are on. If the lights are off, there is no beep when turning the dimmer knob up or down.

    So far, I have not found a happy medium from daytime (full bright), to night/lights on, as if it was on full bright for the day, and it’s a rainy day and the headlights or even the parking lights are turned on, I still have to have the backlight on full bright. Then when it finally gets dark, it has to be turned down, as it’s too bright for, say, out of town driving where it is really dark.

    This is the first vehicle I have had that has to have the instrument cluster lights on to be able to see the speedo and other gauges during the day, so I do find that to be somewhat unusual. The fact that the backlights have to be on to see the gauges should be tip-off at night that your lights are not on (as well as the exterior ‘lights on’ indicator not being on), as the backlight should be so bright, you will be asking yourself why is it so bright.

    So far, I have not had any problem deciding if my 'exterior lights' are on or off when it is dark enough to need them.
  • dona83dona83 Posts: 67
    Does your 5 not have auto lights? I'm not aware of the American trim levels but it is standard in Canada.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 29,006
    edited December 2010
    Wish I could help, but it sounds like you are driving a completely different vehicle than my '09 Sport. I don't need any lighting to see the gauges during the day.

    To answer the question above, no, mine does not have auto lights, either.

    ‘21 Camaro LT1, '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 54-car history and counting!

  • coolmazda5coolmazda5 Posts: 525
    edited December 2010
    Yes, it is normal on the 08+ models (luminescent gauges that is). Dashboard gauges are on at all times when the switch is on. I owned an 06 before (I own an 08 now) so yes, it takes a couple of weeks to get used to it but then it is OK, you'll just need to check the "lights-on" indicator more often I'm afraid. I can definitely notice when is getting dark and the lights are off, but might be because our road and street lights (if any) are terrible at night ;)

    And FYI, luminescent gauges are very common nowadays, so Mazda is not alone. I believe the best combo is luminescent gauges and auto-on/off lights, but hey, I guess that is more money into production...
  • r2kr2k Posts: 25
    In the US, only the Grand Touring has 'auto on' headlights, the other 2 trim lines, the headlights are manual. The US Mazda 5's do not have the 'daytime running lights' like Canadian cars.

    In the 2010 US Sport, the speedo, the tach, the gas gauge and the temp gauge are not visible during the day with out turning up the instrument cluster back lighting with a small knob just to the left of the odometer. I have a PDF file of the 2009 owners manual, and it is the same as the 2010 manual. I don't know about earlier years.

    Sounds like the difference could be due to the nation where the cars are being sold.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 29,006
    I'll have to take another look at my wife's '09, but I'm pretty darned certain I would have noticed not being able to see the gauges when first getting in the car prior to starting it up.

    ‘21 Camaro LT1, '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 54-car history and counting!

  • That is correct. 08-10 are the same thing...
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 29,006
    Am I misreading the above? Aren't you guys saying that you can't see the gauges until you turn the car on??

    ‘21 Camaro LT1, '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 54-car history and counting!

  • coolmazda5coolmazda5 Posts: 525
    edited December 2010
    Here you go...

    No key, ignition switch-off, lights off

    imageSee more Car Pictures at CarSpace.com

    Turning ignition switch to "on" position, ready to crank up (and subsequently car is running). Lights off

    imageSee more Car Pictures at CarSpace.com
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 29,006
    edited December 2010
    just looks like one pic without flash and one with.

    In any case, I thought you guys meant the gauges didn't display or something. During the day, the lighting is much better than what you show in your first pic, so the gauges certainly are visible. That's all I meant.

    If the outdoor light is so dim I can't see my gauges, that would definitely mean it is time to turn on my headlights anyway.

    ‘21 Camaro LT1, '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 54-car history and counting!

  • r2kr2k Posts: 25
    edited December 2010
    In the PDF file I have of the 2009 operators manual, operation of the dashboard illumination/dimmer is discussed on page 5-31. The 2010 manual says the same things on page 5-35.

    The main instrument cluster gauges on my 2010 are just barely visible with out using the backlight, just as in the picture shown in post #12. On a sunny day, it's pretty much necessary to have the backlight turned up all the way to see the gauges clearly. On overcast/rainy days, the backlight can be turned down some, but then if it's a rainy day, I'd probably have at least the 'parking lights' on, if not the headlights, but would still use the dimmer to turn up the backlight so the gauges are clearly visible. Then when it gets really dark, I usually turn the dimmer down, especially when out in the country, away from street lights, etc.
  • riproyriproy Posts: 57
    I bought a pair of Nighthawk Platinum headlight bulbs but have not installed them yet. Wonder if any Mazda5 owners have installed them and what your thoughts are.
  • I have the 2010 Mazda 5 sport and have been trying to figure out why Mazda wouldn't make the auto-on feature for the headlights standard across all trim levels.

    Surely in this day and age this is a safety issue, as with airbags and the like?

    What's the general standard on other similarly-priced vehicles?

    Our other car is the Pontiac Vibe (2009), and I haven't had to touch the headlight switch once in ages on that car.

  • coolmazda5coolmazda5 Posts: 525
    edited January 2011
    It is about cost, as long as is not mandatory, they have to squeeze margin anywhere they can. I would not compare its safety with airbags, it is a completely different thing. Nowadays drivers (including myself) are forgetting to do so many essential important drive safety checkup things that I believe that turning lights on/off when needed should actually help keeping you a bit more engaged to the activity for a change :D

    My other car has the auto feature, I used it a couple of times but annoyed the heck out of me
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