What Is Typically Part of the Vehicle Instrument Panel?

The makeup of a vehicle instrument panel differs with every vehicle. On low-end automobiles, instrument panels tend to be very basic, consisting only of a speedometer, tachometer, engine temperature gauge, fuel gauge, climate control, indicator lights, glove box and ashtray. On top-of-the-line cars, they might also include complex electronics and sensing systems, such as a touchscreen entertainment system, tire pressure monitor and seat belt reminder.

In general, a vehicle instrument panel is located directly in front of the driver. It is an important component of any automobile because it provides the driver with the instrumentation and controls needed to maximize vehicle use.

Vehicle instrument panels are not exclusive to automobiles. Other vehicle types also have them, including motorcycles, airplanes and boats. The gauges on a vehicle instrument panel vary depending on the type of vehicle. An airplane instrument panel has an altimeter, and yaw- and roll-indicators. A boat instrument panel has wind speed and direction meters, and a water depth meter.

Regardless of the vehicle, it is imperative for a driver or operator to know the purpose of each gauge, indicator or control on the vehicle instrument panel, and how to use the information displayed. A vehicle owner's manual is a great source of information on the specific details of a vehicle's instrument panel.