This article is about a control panel placed in the front of the car. 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 carriages” 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 electronic dashboard instruments pdf 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 common name. Contemporary dashboards may include the speedometer, tachometer, odometer and fuel gauge, turn indicators, gearshift position indicator, seat belt warning light, parking-brake warning light, and engine-malfunction lights. Padded dashboards were advocated in the 1930s by car safety pioneer Claire L. In 1948, the Tucker became the first car with a padded dashboard.
One of the safety enhancements of the 1970s was the widespread adoption of padded dashboards. In the early and mid-1990s, airbags became a standard feature of steering wheels and dashboards. In the 1940s through the 1960s, American car manufacturers and their imitators designed unusually-shaped instruments on a dashboard laden 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. With the advent of the VFD, LED and LCD in consumer electronics, some manufacturers used instruments with digital readouts to make their cars appear more up to date, but this has faded from practice. Some cars use a head-up display 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.
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, Honda, Toyota and Mercedes-Benz 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.