Digital Dash Upgrade: Do You Need To Consider It?

In our ever-evolving automotive landscape, the world of upgrades and enhancements continues to expand. Among these advancements, aftermarket digital dash upgrade has emerged as a notable trend. In simpler terms, we’re talking about upgrading the dashboard of your car to a digital display beyond what came with the vehicle originally.

It might not sound groundbreaking, but this upgrade holds significant meaning for both car enthusiasts and everyday drivers.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what these upgrades entail, how they differ from the standard dashboard, the benefits they bring, and the factors to consider if you’re thinking about taking the leap into this digital driving experience.

So, buckle up as we delve into the world of aftermarket digital gauge cluster upgrades and uncover the reasons behind their growing popularity.

digital dash upgrade

What is a digital dash upgrade?

A digital dash upgrade refers to the replacement or enhancement of traditional analog gauges and displays in a vehicle’s dashboard with a modern digital screen.

In older vehicles, the dashboard typically featured analog instruments such as speedometers, fuel gauges, temperature gauges, and tachometers, which provided information about the vehicle’s performance and status.

A digital dash upgrade involves replacing these analog gauges with digital displays that use LCD (liquid crystal display), OLED (organic light-emitting diode), or other advanced screen technologies. These digital displays can show a wide range of information about your car in a more dynamic and customizable way.

Digital dash upgrade vs traditional analogue gauges

Think about your car’s current dashboard – those traditional gauges and meters that show you important stats like speed, fuel, and engine temperature. Now, imagine replacing those with a digital screen that can display not only the basics but also a whole range of additional information.

That’s what sets these digital upgrades apart from the regular dashboards that come with the car? It’s all about flexibility and versatility.

Now don’t get me wrong, you can always buy aftermarket gauges if you only need the data on one or two specific things. However, if you start putting gauges for every engine info you will end up not knowing where to look.

Aftermarket digital gauge clusters offer you the power to decide what information you want to see, how you want it presented, and sometimes even the ability to switch between different layouts in a simple screen. You can have it all right in front of you.

Now, you might wonder how these upgrades play out in the real world. Do they really make a difference? The answer is yes, and we’ll get into the nitty-gritty of those advantages later in this article.

But for now, just know that these digital clusters can enhance your driving experience by providing you with more relevant and dynamic information.

What can a digital dash cluster display?

A digital dashboard can display a wide range of information, providing drivers with real-time data and insights about various aspects of their vehicle’s performance. The specific information that can be displayed on a digital dashboard really only depends on if you have the sensors for it installed.

Here’s a list of performance-related information that can be displayed on a digital dashboard:

  • Speed: Real-time speed readout is crucial for monitoring the vehicle’s velocity, especially during spirited driving.
  • Tachometer (RPM): Displaying engine RPM is essential for performance driving, helping the driver to shift gears at the optimal moment.
  • Gear Position: Indicating the current gear can aid the driver in maintaining optimal power delivery and control.
  • Acceleration Metrics: Displaying 0-60 mph times, quarter-mile times, or other acceleration metrics can satisfy enthusiasts interested in performance benchmarks.
  • Lateral G-Force: This measurement shows how much the vehicle is being pushed sideways during turns, giving insights into cornering capability.
  • Longitudinal G-Force: Measures how much the vehicle accelerates or decelerates in a straight line, which is crucial for performance tracking.
  • Braking Metrics: Information about braking force, braking distances, and even brake temperature can help optimize braking performance.
  • Engine Temperature: Monitoring the engine’s temperature can prevent overheating during intense driving sessions.
  • Oil Pressure: Displaying oil pressure is important to ensure the engine is adequately lubricated, especially during high-performance driving.
  • Turbo Boost Pressure: For turbocharged engines, showing the boost pressure can give insights into power delivery and turbo performance.
  • Wheel Slip: Displaying the level of traction at each wheel can help the driver modulate throttle and steering inputs for optimal traction.
  • Track Timer: Advanced systems can include track timer features for measuring lap times, sector times, and overall performance on a race track.
  • Shift Lights: Visual cues that illuminate as the engine approaches its redline can help the driver execute precise shifts.
  • Performance Data Logging: Some digital dashboards can record performance data for later analysis, allowing drivers to improve their driving skills over time.

What are the display customization that can be done?

Aftermarket digital gauge cluster upgrades can offer a range of visual customizations to enhance the appearance and functionality of your vehicle’s instrument panel. While the exact features and options can vary depending on the manufacturer and model of the aftermarket cluster, here are some common visual customizations you might find:

  • Theme Selection: Many aftermarket clusters allow you to choose from different visual themes or layouts. These themes can range from classic analog-style gauges to futuristic digital displays, allowing you to pick a design that suits your preferences.
  • Color Customization: You might be able to adjust the colors of various elements on the display, such as the background, text, numbers, and indicator lights. This can help you match the cluster’s appearance to your vehicle’s interior or your personal style.
  • Gauge Layout: Some clusters let you rearrange the layout of the gauges and information displays on the screen. This can be useful if you want to prioritize certain information or make the display more intuitive for your needs.
  • Data Display: Customization might extend to what kind of data is displayed.
  • Alerts and Warnings: You could set up visual alerts or warnings for specific conditions such as low fuel, high engine temperature, or low tire pressure. Customizing the way these alerts are displayed can make them more noticeable and attention-grabbing.
  • Unit Customization: Depending on where you’re located and your preferences, you might be able to customize units of measurement for various parameters, such as switching between miles per hour and kilometers per hour, or Fahrenheit and Celsius.
  • Font Styles: Some clusters might allow you to select different font styles for the displayed information, contributing to the overall aesthetic.
  • Integration with Vehicle Systems: In more advanced systems, the aftermarket cluster might integrate with your vehicle’s CAN bus (Controller Area Network) to display real-time data from various vehicle systems, such as the engine, transmission, and more.

Remember that the level of customization can vary widely between different aftermarket clusters. It’s essential to thoroughly research the specific cluster you’re interested in to determine the extent of visual customizations it offers and whether those align with your preferences.

Pros and Cons of a digital dash upgrade

Upgrading to an aftermarket digital gauge cluster offers various advantages and disadvantages. Here are some pros and cons to consider:


  • Customization: Aftermarket digital gauge clusters often provide a high degree of customization. You can tailor the display to your preferences, choosing colors, layouts, and data to be displayed. This allows you to create a unique and personalized driving experience.
  • Enhanced Readability: Digital displays can offer better visibility, especially in varying lighting conditions. You might also have the flexibility to adjust font sizes and colors for improved readability.
  • Additional Information: Many aftermarket clusters can display a broader range of information compared to traditional analog gauges. This can include real-time data on engine performance, fuel efficiency, temperature, and more.
  • Modern Aesthetics: Digital clusters can give your vehicle a more modern and futuristic appearance, especially if your vehicle originally came with analog gauges. This can enhance the overall interior aesthetics.
  • Advanced Features: Some aftermarket clusters offer advanced features like customizable warning alerts, data logging, and integration with other vehicle systems. This can provide a more comprehensive view of your vehicle’s performance.


  • Compatibility: Not all aftermarket clusters are compatible with all vehicles. Ensuring that the cluster is compatible with your vehicle’s make, model, and year is crucial. Some clusters might require additional wiring or modifications for proper installation.
  • Installation Complexity: Installing an aftermarket cluster might require technical knowledge and skills. If you’re not comfortable working with wiring and electronics, you might need to hire a professional for installation.
  • Cost: High-quality aftermarket digital gauge clusters can be expensive, especially those with advanced features and customization options. Alongside the initial cost, there might be additional expenses for installation and potential modifications.
  • Learning Curve: The customization options available with aftermarket clusters can lead to a learning curve. It might take time to configure the cluster to display the information you want and understand how to navigate through settings.
  • Distraction Risk: While digital clusters can offer more information, too much information or poorly organized displays can lead to distractions while driving. It’s important to set up the display in a way that doesn’t compromise your focus on the road.

Is a digital dash upgrade worth it?

Let’s take a closer look at the value and impact of these aftermarket digital gauge cluster upgrades.

When you’re considering an upgrade like a digital dash upgrade, the initial cost naturally comes to mind. It’s true, this isn’t a small investment, but the key is to weigh that cost against what you’re gaining.

Think about the convenience of having a dashboard that provides a wealth of real-time information beyond the basics. This can range from trip data to performance metrics, adding a futuristic touch to your driving experience.

In terms of the device itself, a good quality digital gauge cluster will definitely deliver the value you paid for. However, to truly determine if this investment is worth it or not, it all comes down to your own personal needs or preference and how much you want to spend.

If staying connected and having data at your fingertips align with your preferences or your needs, then the value proposition is great. But it goes both ways.


What effect does a Digital cluster upgrade have on your car’s resale value?

Upgrading to a digital cluster can impact resale value. While some buyers appreciate modern features, others prefer original components. Well-executed upgrades might attract tech-savvy buyers, but it’s essential to consider potential buyer preferences.

What is the estimate for the cost of purchasing and installing a digital cluster upgrade?

Costs vary widely. Basic setups might start around a few hundred dollars, while advanced ones can go above a thousand. Installation costs depend on complexity and whether you do it yourself or hire a professional.

What is the reliability and accuracy of the digital cluster technology?

Digital clusters generally offer good reliability and accuracy. However, quality differs between brands. Opt for reputable manufacturers with positive reviews to ensure accurate readings and durability.

Do you need any extra mods for a digital cluster?

Generally, a digital cluster upgrade doesn’t require extra modifications if it’s designed for your vehicle. However, some installations might need minor adjustments to wiring or configurations for seamless integration. Furthermore, if your car is on the older side or has many extra modifications you want to track, you may have to install additional sensors.


In conclusion, the surge in aftermarket digital dash upgrades is revolutionizing driving experiences. By replacing conventional analog gauges with dynamic digital displays, these upgrades offer personalized data and modern aesthetics.

The advantages, including real-time insights, customization options, and integration capabilities, can significantly enhance driving engagement. While considering factors such as compatibility, installation complexity, and cost is essential, the potential benefits make the investment appealing for both car enthusiasts and daily drivers.

In this ever-evolving automotive landscape, the journey towards a digital driving future holds promise for those seeking a more connected and futuristic on-road experience.