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Drew, Super Mazda Tech.
Category: Mazda
Satisfied Customers: 2518
Experience:  19 yrs. experience. Mazda Senior Certified Tech, with Ford, Linc. & Merc. experience. ASE L1 Advanced Certified Master Tech.
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Mazda Mazda 3: I just bought a Mazda 3 08 (used) and realized

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I just bought a Mazda 3 08 (used) and realized that the dash illumination goes REALLY dim when the headlights are turned on. The only "switch" I have is the little wheel left of the steering. The owner's manual (and forums) talked about a second button next to the odometer reset button but this is missing from my car. Is my wheel just bad or is there something I'm missing (physically or figuratively)?:)

Welcome. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will be glad to assist you.

Do you know if this is a Mazda build for Canada with day time running lights factory installed?

Can you give me the VIN# ?

Is there a small hole in the instrument cluster where a small button/knob could be missing?

Let me know.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Drew,


Pretty basic car, no electric doors or windows. It does have daytime running lights.


VIN: JM1BK32F781839686


No hole where the button should be.


Thanks again,




There should only be the on dimmer switch for the instrument panel lights. It is located to the left of the steering wheel on the dash panel. It uses a rheostat or resistor to change the brightness of all the interior illumination lights. If all the lights work but you are not able to change the brightness, then I suspect a faulty dimmer switch or it may not be plugged into the electrical connector.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Ill give it a check tomorrow morning and let you know. Any way to check the dimmer switch? I have the standard multimeter and such. I'm guessing that if it is stuck in "low light", there a connection (broken track or such) that keeps it there, otherwise, it'd be stuck in "full" light?

I actually just found a 2008 Mazda 3 with auto headlamps and found that it also had a push button switch on the top left side of the instrument cluster that controls the brightness of the instrument cluster/gauges illumination only lights when the headlamps are off. The other dimmer switch controls all the illumination lights in the entire vehicle, when the headlamps are on.

Here is a picture of the instrument cluster illumination button. If you press it, there are 5 different settings.


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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Drew,

That's the button I was talking about in my original question. It is not present on my car. I dismantled part of the dash to see what was happening (kinda hard when you don't know where all the "pressfit" are). It turns out that when I unplug the dimmer switch I do have (rheostat), I have interior lights so definitely a bad switch.


I'm still puzzled as to why the secondary dimmer push button is not there though. Anyhow, thanks for the chat. At least I know where my problem stands now.


Thanks again.



EDIT: I looked on the net to get a price for the switch and it was around 20$ !! So I figured I might as well open it and see what's what. Turns out it was some oxydation on the contacts of the "wheel". Some emery paper and a little dielectric grease and all is good again. Woohoo...:)


Thanks again...

Hello Rick.

Thanks for the update and great job on the dimmer/rheostat inspection.

Mazda made two different types of illumination model trim levels for this vehicle in 2008. Depending on HID lights, adjustable headlights and day time running lights. Not sure why but I have been checking all the 2008 Mazda 3 that have came through my shop in the last week and it has been 50/50 some have two dimmers and some have only the one dimmers like yours.

Thanks again.