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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Is it the case for everyone else here that there are no instrument panel lights for the analog section (tach/speedo) when only the daytime running lights are on? ie: headlights or parking lights not on?

It really appears that, for our 718 Cayman GTS, there are no instrument panel lights when the daytime running lights are on. I have been driving the car with the headlights set to "Auto" and during daylight hours I can see the instrument cluster but only because there is enough ambient light falling on the cluster. When driving in low-light situations but with the automatic headlights not yet turned on, the dashboard is essentially black except for the digital portions (speed/odometer/multi-function display), which would be considerably brighter in the car than in the photo below. This photo was adjusted by me to try to approximate what I see in my car since my phone camera’s light metering keeps compensating for the lack of light. BTW, this is a very good approximation and you can see how dark the instruments are.

I have spent a considerable amount of time poking around configurations and have found nothing that controls the light sensor or brightness of the instrument cluster. I have also confirmed that the instrument panel lights are on only when either the parking lights or low beams are turned on, or if the Auto mode turns on the headlights. When the lights are on, the actual brightness is adjusted as the car goes in and out of the shadows.

Why would there be no panel lights on a black instrument panel in a black cockpit? Everything in the manual indicates that the car should automatically adjust panel light brightness based on ambient light. It doesn't say anything about not turning them on at all.

Thoughts and experiences, please?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I assume mine are always on because I never have issues reading the cluster. Maybe a silly suggestion but you have tried adjusting the brightness with the button?
Page 123 | 2017-2018 718 Boxster Manual | Porsche iManuals
Yes, I have. That control only functions when the headlights are on, maybe parking lights also but I haven't checked that. If the headlights are off, it does nothing. Try it yourself.
I'll ask "what color are your dials?"
 

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Yes, I have. That control only functions when the headlights are on, maybe parking lights also but I haven't checked that. If the headlights are off, it does nothing. Try it yourself.
I'll ask "what color are your dials?"
My dials are black as well. You are correct. I just tried it. On auto when the headlights are off the instrument cluster illumination is off as well. So one can't adjust the brightness via the button. I don't know why it doesn't bother me? Never noticed it even. Maybe my headlight sensor turns the lights on sooner? Maybe a dealer can adjust the sensitivity? If not only solution I see is to turn the headlights on manually, that switches the cluster lights on as well like you said.
 

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I became aware of this last month. My eye glasses have transition lenses that make the situation worse. When entering a tree canopy it is darker out and my glasses are dark making the tach & speedo realy dim for a minute or so till my glasses lighten up. The gear indicator is always bright so I guess Porsche wants me to know what gear I'm in if I blow it wp because I can't see the tach. My dealer said the car is as it is supposed to be.
 

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My experience is that instrument panel lights are always linked to main lights and that this is not unique to Porsche. I guess this is based on the assumption that if it is light enough outside the car it should be light enough inside the car. So whether the car has auto lights or not the interior lights will only come on when the external lights come. Personally I think there is a safety element to this as well, imagine how many people might assume their exterior lights are on simply because the interior ones are.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
My experience is that instrument panel lights are always linked to main lights and that this is not unique to Porsche. I guess this is based on the assumption that if it is light enough outside the car it should be light enough inside the car. So whether the car has auto lights or not the interior lights will only come on when the external lights come. Personally I think there is a safety element to this as well, imagine how many people might assume their exterior lights are on simply because the interior ones are.
I think I disagree. I've been driving for 42 years and thus is the first car I remember that doesn't have lit gauges during the day. The dash gauges on my Subaru are - ready for this - brighter during the daytime than at night. Why? Because they need to overcome the ambient light. At night they are dim so as not to overwhelm the view out the windshield.
I love my GTS but am amazed by this, in my eyes anyway, deficiency. I guess I just need to turn the headlights on rather than use the Automatic headlights. Amazing!
 

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OK, i've only been driving for 32 years but my experience is somewhat different. In that time i've owned primarily European brands - Renault, VW, BMW - and I can't recall the instrument cluster being lit while the lights are off in any one of them. Having said that it might explain why here in NZ Subarus are one of the car brands I see driving around with out their lights one at night time (I usually see 5 or 6 a week while i'm out driving or running in the evening). I'm interested to hear what other forum members have to say on the subject though
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I've been thinking a bit more about this. Could it be a European car thing (you'll notice that all my cars have been European) vs a Japanese or USA car thing? i've done a bit more googling and a cursory look would suggest that this 'problem' appears to be related to European brands. This article bears out my concerns about this as a feature - https://driving.ca/auto-news/entertainment/bright-dashboards-and-daytime-lights-continue-to-fool-us.
That's a really interesting article and I understand exactly their points, since I have experienced many other cars on the road at late dusk or even night who obviously are running with their daytime running lights. I always wonder "why can't they tell their headlights aren't on? They can barely see."
Now, my take. These people aren't using their automatic headlights. If they were, their headlights would be on. Its really as simple as that. Now the question is "why don't they use the auto mode?" My guess is that its usually ignorance of the mode or distrust that it doesn't work as it should.
Now I will ask "why have an auto mode in your/my Porsche if we still need to fiddle with the headlight switch in order to see the dashboard?" To me that makes no sense. Why have a dashboard you can't see to protect you/me from forgetting to turn on the headlights when the car is going to turn them on automatically anyway? Why have Auto mode then? It's a waste and makes no sense.
MOO (My Opinions Only)
 

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With the top down, I really can't make out the details of the multi function display with the sunglasses on (lights on Auto). Too dark.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I've been thinking a bit more about this. Could it be a European car thing (you'll notice that all my cars have been European) vs a Japanese or USA car thing? i've done a bit more googling and a cursory look would suggest that this 'problem' appears to be related to European brands. This article bears out my concerns about this as a feature - https://driving.ca/auto-news/entertainment/bright-dashboards-and-daytime-lights-continue-to-fool-us.
That's a really interesting article and I understand exactly their points, since I have experienced many other cars on the road at late dusk or even night who obviously are running with their daytime running lights. I always wonder "why can't they tell their headlights aren't on? They can barely see."
Now, my take. These people aren't using their automatic headlights. If they were, their headlights would be on. Its really as simple as that. Now the question is "why don't they use the auto mode?" My guess is that its usually ignorance of the mode or distrust that it doesn't work as it should.
Now I will ask "why have an auto mode in your/my Porsche if we still need to fiddle with the headlight switch in order to see the dashboard?" To me that makes no sense. Why have a dashboard you can't see to protect you/me from forgetting to turn on the headlights when the car is going to turn them on automatically anyway? Why have Auto mode then? It's a waste and makes no sense.
MOO (My Opinions Only)
And a bit more thought:
It would be easy for Porsche to update the software to turn off the dash lights if the headlight switch is turned off. That way you won't see the dash when it gets dark. If in auto, enable dash lights and associated control of same. This is very simple. Why hasn't Porsche done this already?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I hate the instrument cluster lit without lights, but the multi-function screen is essential.

With the top down, I really can't make out the details of the multi function display with the sunglasses on (lights on Auto). Too dark.
Have you tried this?

Page 271 | 2017-2018 718 Boxster Manual | Porsche iManuals
Yes, I have already played in this section.
It's now obvious to me that this is how the car is designed. Such is life. I guess it's time to get over it. Even the most beautiful, desirable woman has a blemish somewhere! This is Porsche's. I can deal with it!☺
 

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I have not tried that as a rational means of fixing this particular problem. But I look forward to trying it, because it either will fix the problem (unlikely; vide supra CaymanMatt), or it will be another example of US cars not operating properly, according to the manual.
 

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@CaymanMatt and others: this is not a unique issue. One of the most frequent complaints of pre-2018 BMW 2 Series -- even the M2 -- is the lack of gauge illumination at daytime. (This was taken care of for 2018 by the inclusion of an all-digital dash.)

This is also not unique to European cars. My 370z did not have daylight illumination of its gauges, for instance. Other modern cars I've owned that didn't have it (That I can recall):
- 2006 Mini Cooper
- 2002 VW GTi
- mid-2000s Jeep Liberty and Wrangler

That said, I do not have an issue seeing the 718's gauges in the daytime. Why? Because the only gauge that isn't illuminated is the tachometer -- you have a digital speedometer, remember -- and I, for one, can deal with that for short periods of time (underpasses, tunnels) with the Auto headlight feature set to off. The Mini I owned didn't bother me, either, because it, too, had a digital speedometer. The BMW 2 Series before 2018 had very few digital gauges -- including the speedometer -- so it was an issue for many owners.

I think the omission of daytime gauge illumination is primarily a function of the Auto headlight feature, the design thought being that if it gets too dark, the headlights will switch on along with the gauge lights. The problem with that, obviously, is that there are those of us who HATE Auto-on headlights for a variety of reasons. (Yes, I'm one of those.)

I also owned a Subaru WRX, as well as a Lexus CT 200h F Sport, that had daytime gauge illumination. Those cars had it because both feature black-out gauges when off -- not because it was a conscious design feature for safety or what have you. Yes, it's a great feature, but it's plainly not a necessary one for vehicle interior designers.

I would ask if the current 911 models, which have several analog gauges, have daytime gauge illumination, (I don't believe they do.) then I'd simply get over it. It's not unique to Porsche. Not by a long shot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
@CaymanMatt and others: this is not a unique issue. One of the most frequent complaints of pre-2018 BMW 2 Series -- even the M2 -- is the lack of gauge illumination at daytime. (This was taken care of for 2018 by the inclusion of an all-digital dash.)

This is also not unique to European cars. My 370z did not have daylight illumination of its gauges, for instance. Other modern cars I've owned that didn't have it (That I can recall):
- 2006 Mini Cooper
- 2002 VW GTi
- mid-2000s Jeep Liberty and Wrangler

That said, I do not have an issue seeing the 718's gauges in the daytime. Why? Because the only gauge that isn't illuminated is the tachometer -- you have a digital speedometer, remember -- and I, for one, can deal with that for short periods of time (underpasses, tunnels) with the Auto headlight feature set to off. The Mini I owned didn't bother me, either, because it, too, had a digital speedometer. The BMW 2 Series before 2018 had very few digital gauges -- including the speedometer -- so it was an issue for many owners.

I think the omission of daytime gauge illumination is primarily a function of the Auto headlight feature, the design thought being that if it gets too dark, the headlights will switch on along with the gauge lights. The problem with that, obviously, is that there are those of us who HATE Auto-on headlights for a variety of reasons. (Yes, I'm one of those.)

I also owned a Subaru WRX, as well as a Lexus CT 200h F Sport, that had daytime gauge illumination. Those cars had it because both feature black-out gauges when off -- not because it was a conscious design feature for safety or what have you. Yes, it's a great feature, but it's plainly not a necessary one for vehicle interior designers.

I would ask if the current 911 models, which have several analog gauges, have daytime gauge illumination, (I don't believe they do.) then I'd simply get over it. It's not unique to Porsche. Not by a long shot.
I now understand why I see what I see. That is good. I understand that there is history with this, and that probably everyone who has driven Porsches for years is used to it. It doesn't change my opinion that it could and should be better. We are talking not only about a $60-120K car, we are talking about a very high performance sports car with a deficiency that prevents the driver from accessing the information he/she needs. That to me is the baffling part. Your tach is the EKG of your car. Why would you accept not being able to read it because of bad engineering? Sure, if this was the way everything was, then an argument could be made that I'm just pushing for something noone else does. That's not the case though. I'm saying why not do what many others have done? Its easy, a simple code change, and not a single person would need to struggle to see their instruments anymore unless they wanted to. You can always continue to not use Auto mode. I understand. For those of use who believe there is value in that mode though, give us something that has value. In reality, at this point it doesn't.

And with that, I think we should close this subject and move on to more exciting discussions. Thanks for all the input. It truly was valuable, beneficial, and appreciated.
 

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I hate the instrument cluster lit without lights, but the multi-function screen is essential.



Have you tried this?

Page 271 | 2017-2018 718 Boxster Manual | Porsche iManuals
I just took a look at this and see that it is entirely operational. I haven't gotten to evaluate the potential improvements. I think I had anecdotally stumbled on this, before I felt I had an issue with the display being too dark, and had confused it with the analogue gauge lighting. So this is squared away to my satisfaction.
 
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