A few days ago, my brother drove into my garage and told me mileage was not showing on the car dashboard, and he couldn’t tell at what speed he was traveling. This can be extremely dangerous, as he could be driving at 140 KPH while thinking he’s driving below 100 KPH.
After a few back and forth, I rectify the problem, and he’s back on the road the next minute. If you are experiencing the same problem as my brother did, do not panic. Mileage not showing on the dashboard is usually a simple fix.
What causes mileage not to show on the dashboard
The most common reasons your car’s mileage is not showing on the dashboard are a faulty vehicle speed sensor, a defective instrument cluster, cracked or broken solder joints, or dead console lightbulbs. You must diagnose and fix these problems before the mileage will start showing on the dash.
Defective instrument cluster
The instrument cluster is a circuit board on the dashboard with knobs, bulbs, and displays. While the instrument cluster doesn’t fail often, it can be the root cause of the problem, especially in old vehicles.
The instrument cluster contains several things like the fuel gauge, temperature gauge, speedometer, and odometer. Since the cluster contains several functions, it will display different symptoms when it starts failing. One such symptom is the odometer and gas mileage not showing on the dashboard.
Broken or burnt display solder joints
Why is my car not showing mileage? Broken or burnt display solder joints are the most common reason your odometer is not showing and, in most cases, the easiest to fix.
The digital mileage display is soldered to the instrument cluster circuit board. The solder joints are prone to heat damage, corrosion, exposure to moisture, and physical damage, especially in older cars.
However, the soldered joints can burn out and cut off electric flow. If any of the issues above happen, the display will dim, flicker, or start working intermittently instead of dying completely one unfaithful day. This can also cause your mileage to stop working completely.
Bad speed sensor
A bad speed sensor is one of the most common causes of mileage not showing on dashboard Honda Civic or any other car model. A bad vehicle speed sensor can also cause erratic or inaccurate speedometer readings. If this sensor fails, your speedometer may not work. On most cars, both the odometer and speedometer use the same sensor.
The wheel speed sensor plays a crucial role in your vehicle. It calculates how fast the wheels are spinning, and the car computer uses its calculations to measure how fast you travel.
If the speedometer and odometer are not working correctly, are jumping up and down, or not working at all, there’s a high chance that the vehicle speed sensor is bad. Even with a bad speed sensor, your vehicle will continue running fine.
However, it can be very dangerous if you don’t know how fast you are driving, especially when cruising on a highway. You may turn your vehicle into a road beast without knowing. Any slight accident will cause catastrophic damages and may lead to loss of lives.
Defective Console lights
If the console lights are burnt out, there won’t be any light on the dashboard. Other issues like rusty connections or a blown fuse can cause all the dashboard lights to go out.
However, defective console lights won’t cause the mileage not to display, but they will cause you not to see it at night or in dark areas. If you were wondering, why can’t I see my odometer reading at night? You now know the answer.
How do I get my mileage back on my digital odometer?
Rolling mileage back on a digital odometer is not easy, as it requires practical knowledge and equipment. Typically, there are two common ways of rolling back the digital odometer.
Software based correction
The mileage of cars is recorded in the car memory. Hence, you can plug a scan tool into the vehicle OBDII and get the mileage back. This procedure is straight to the point and less time-consuming. However, the OBDII tool for the rollback is not widely available to the general public.
The hardware mileage rollback or correction method is done on the odometer circuit board. Like the software-based method, this method requires technical know-how and some equipment. The process involves removing the odometer, removing the integrated chip that stores the mileage measurement, and correcting the stored data using the required equipment.
What sensor controls mileage?
Generally, the car computer uses the odometer to measure the distance a car travels. However, the odometer receives data from the vehicle speed sensor, which measures the vehicle speed and calculates the distance covered. Therefore, the odometer uses the speed sensor to calculate your car mileage.
The odometer is installed on the car dashboard, showing the total miles covered since the car is produced.
Where is mileage stored on a car?
On most vehicles, the mileage is stored on the odometer and several other electronic components of the vehicle. Even the body control module (BCM), park assist control units, seat memory, and engine control module (ECM) stores the mileage information.
Hence, if you are about to change your instrument cluster and are worried that changing it will wipe out the information, the short answer is no. However, always write down your current mileage before changing the odometer. Car manufacturers use different technologies and engineering in designing their cars. So, your specific car may only store the mileage on the odometer.
How can I restore my car mileage?
The best way to restore a car’s mileage is to reset it. If you lost your current mileage after replacing your instrument cluster or the odometer, the only way to restore the mileage is to reset it. However, it is better to write down the mileage before replacing the odometer.
If you didn’t write down the mileage before the replacement, you can check your oil change sticker to know the last mileage when you changed the oil and your next oil change mileage. Then, set the mileage somewhere in the middle.
But what if the odometer is broken? Your car registers mileage even with a broken odometer. The mileage is usually stored somewhere in the ECU. Verifying mileage with a broken odometer requires an odometer scan tool. The tool is designed to pull out vehicle mileage when you can’t see it on the odometer.
But how do I fix my odometer not working? I’ll explain that in the next few paragraphs.
How do I fix my odometer not working
Since a few possible issues could cause the odometer not to work, there are also several ways of fixing it, depending on the actual cause. Here are the possible ways of fixing the odometer that is not working.
Replace speed sensor
The speed sensor is a device that converts mechanical signals to electrical signals, which runs up to the dashboard and turns the odometer. It works for both digital and analog odometers. The vehicle speed sensor can wear out and fail like every mechanical device.
If both the odometer and the speedometer are not working, replacing the vehicle speed sensor is the feasible solution. Locate the vehicle speed sensor at the back of the transmission and replace it.
I talked about my brother and his experience with his Toyota Camry. I replaced the vehicle speed sensor which rectified the underlying problem. This could be all you have to do, especially if both the speedometer and the odometer are not working.
Repair broken odometer
In most cases, you likely have broken solder joints; you only need to re-solder the joints. But first, you need to get a soldering iron or a soldering kit. The tool is cheap. You can get it on Amazon for as low as $10 to $15.
The first step is to remove the odometer. Unscrew the torx, hex, or Philips bolts that hold it together. The odometer cover may be held with plastic clips. So you should be careful not to break things if the cover is feeling stubborn to come off.
The second step is to unplug the gauge connectors. Locate and unplug all the electrical connectors at the back of the gauge once you remove the gauges. The wires can be short; apply all precautionary measures so you won’t cut any of them.
The third step is removing the gauge cover to access the odometer display. Locate all the bolts and remove them by using the right size screwdriver.
The fourth step is to remove the display for inspection. Look at the solder joints and see if they are corroded, burnt, or broken. If you notice any damage on the circuit board, it’s time for soldering work.
Inspect the odometer gears if you have an analog system. If the gear is broken, it will not turn the display digits, invariably causing the odometer not to work. If the gear is broken, replace it as needed. That could be all you need to fix the problem.
Here’s a YouTube video for a visual clarification on how to fix an odometer that doesn’t spin. It also shows how to replace a broken odometer gear.
I have explained mileage not showing on the dashboard, possible causes and solutions, and also answered relevant questions to the topic. But to sum it up, A dead vehicle speed sensor is the most common cause if the odometer and speedometer are not working. Most times, the only solution is to replace the speed sensor installed at the back of the transmission.
However, the culprit could be other issues like broken odometer gears on the analog system, broken or burnt display joints, defective instrument clusters, and dead console lightbulbs.