Gauge Color Matters

04.14.17 - Car Gauges

Is there a science and a reason behind the color of the gauges in your vehicle? Have you ever noticed that different brands use different colors to give you the readout you want and make gauges easier to see and understand? There is a reason behind the colors that are close and with some brands, it’s a simple matter of the right color that we enjoy or there’s actual science behind the color that’s chosen. In older model vehicles there doesn’t seem to be as much science behind the gauges that are made than there is today.

Why does color matter when it comes to the gauges that you see in your vehicle? While the idea is to make it easy for you to see the readouts on the cluster in front of you it’s important that the color you see help you maintain your night vision and make it easier on your eyes. Your eyes have to work extremely hard when certainly light colors hit them and they can relax when other light colors make their way to your eyes which are naturally more appealing to the way your eyes work and help your eyes avoid getting tired too easily.

This means car manufacturers need to choose a color for the gauges that are presented to you at night that appeal to your eyes and the way they work. The color combination that’s been found to be the most appealing in this manner is a red-orange combination. This color combination actually works great for both parts of your eyes to be the best color for the gauges you see at night. This is the color used most for BMW models and has become the right color for a variety of brands to use in their vehicles at night.

BMW actually uses two colors combinations for you. During the day you see white gauges, but at night they change to this red-orange. There are two parts of your eyes that help you see, the cones and the rods. The rods are positioned to the outer edges of your eyes and help you see shapes at night. These rods don’t help you discern color and they aren’t susceptible to the red-orange combination, which makes it easier to continue to see at night when you need to see a shape outside of your headlight vision and avoid hitting an animal that might cross in front of your vehicle.

The cones in your eyes are made to discern color and give you the clear and sharp vision that you have. These items are great for reading the digital readout in your vehicle and also benefit from the red-orange color that you can have in a digital display. This means the red-orange color that BMW has chosen is the right one to make sure your eyes won’t become tired or negatively impacted by the colors of the gauge cluster in your vehicle, especially if you choose a BMW model to drive.

Why do other brands use other colors? Toyota has used green for years because it’s an appealing color that offers the feeling of calmness when driving. New research has revealed that white light can be used at night as well because the wavelength is close to the same as the red-orange that has already proved to be appealing. If you see other colors at the primary colors of your gauge cluster you might want to ask why that particular color is chosen for the vehicle. There’s sure to be a good reason and some science behind the color of the lights you use to see your gauges and the road ahead of you at night.


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