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Inside Car Lights Won’t Turn Off? – 9 Reasons & 5 Fixes!

Inside Car Lights Won’t Turn Off
Written by Nick Steiner

Most of us don’t think about the dome light until we shut the car door and realize it is still on. There are several reasons why it stays on, several of them are DIY fixes, and others are a bit more difficult.

Here we will learn why the inside car lights won’t turn off and how to fix them.

Why Your Inside Car Lights Won’t Turn Off

1. Bad dome switch

The dome light switch has several settings. The switch could be in the on position and needs switching to off.

In most cars, the center setting is the one you want. Kids love switches. This is the easiest one to reach.

2. The door is closed/light is on

The interior light in your car connects to the doors or your trunk. If you don’t shut the door completely, the interior light will stay on to alert you.

Check all the doors and your trunk to see if they are correctly closed.

3. The problem may be in the door

The issue could be inside the door. If the hinges don’t line up correctly, the hinges are too loose, or they are not seated right, the door will not latch all the way, and the light will stay on.

The door may be closed enough not to open while driving but not closed enough to turn off the light.

Close the door harder and see if it latches and puts the light out. If this works, you have faulty door hinges.

You can test this by having someone grasp the door from the bottom and try to move it upward while you look at the hinges to see if they move.

4. Wrong switch setting

The dimmer switch is found on the left side of most dashboards. This switch lets you choose the brightness of the dashboard light. If your dimmer switch is set too high, your interior light may not go off.

Check the dimmer switch if you have checked the doors and the interior light switch. You probably have a faulty switch if the light does not go out.

5. Wiring or control modules issues

You can follow the wiring from the dashboard for breaks, splits, and looseness tighten the loose wire and recheck the light. If a wire is cracked or broken, it will need replacing.

If you can’t figure it out, your best bet is a mechanic who can also check for a control module issue while they have the car.

6. Not giving the light enough time

Newer cars have a delay from when the door closes until your light goes out. Shut the door, wait five minutes and see the car needs the five minutes to shut the light down.

7. Rear cargo light is on

Open and reclose the cargo door, wait five minutes to see if it is a timed light. If the cargo door has a switch, position it off, which should do the trick.

You can also check your manual for cargo door suggestions.

8. The thumbwheel for the dimmer is set wrong

Some cars have a wheel-type switch that you can adjust with your finger (thumbwheel switch) to control how bright the dashboard lights get.

If this is set too high, it may be keeping the dome light from going off.

9. Bad door sensor

While an open door will keep the interior lights on, a closed door with a bad sensor can cause the same problem. The sensor will need replacing ASAP.

Inside Car Lights Won’t Turn Off: How to solve the issue

Inside Car Lights Won’t Turn Off

1. Check the light switches

Once you check the switches and have figured out the problem, use the following steps to fix it.

Step 1: Adjust the dome light switch

On the dashboard to the left on most cars is the dome light switch. Reset the switch to a dimmer setting and your dome light should go off.

This switch also controls the dashboard light, you may have to adjust it several times to get the dashboard and light setting where you want them.

Step 2: Open and close each door/locate the door switch

Not closing the door all the way will set off the dome light. Open and close each door to ensure the light goes off when the door is shut.

Once you figure out which door, reset the switch on that door. Press on the switch to feel the click as it resets.

If you don’t feel the click, the switch in that door is broken. You will have to change the switch yourself or take it to a mechanic.

Step 3: Start and run the car for five minutes

You need to start your car and let it run for five minutes then, turn the car off and take your key from the ignition, this will reset the door switch.

Next, open and close each door to see if the light goes out. After you have opened/closed all the doors, it may take up to five minutes for the light to go out.

Step 4: Check the wiring for each switch

Tracing the wiring is not a DIY job. Take the car to a mechanic and have him follow the wiring from the harness behind the dashboard to each car door. The mechanic can examine the harness and junction point and determine the problem.

Remove the dome light bulb, so it doesn’t run down the battery. You can put it back in after the problem is fixed.

2. Front hood latch

Open the car hood and close it. Make sure it is down all the way. Then, recheck the interior light to ensure it has gone off.

3. Use a scan tool

After you try the above steps and still have that interior light on, it is a possibility that you have a bad door switch. A scan tool will help confirm this.

If you don’t have one, take the car to a shop where they can scan it for you.

4. Check the circuit

Take the car to a mechanic to check the circuit. If your car is an older model, the switch may be broken or jammed.

In a new car, it may be the electrical system operated by the ignition or a door. Remove the bulb from the dome light to avoid draining the battery.

5. Check the fuse

If you are going to take the car to the shop, an alternative to removing the dome light bulb is to pull the fuse for the light.

It is much easier than removing the bulb, and the bulb has been on and will be hot, so this will avoid getting burned.

FAQs

1. Can I drive with the dome light on?

Ans. It’s a bad idea to drive with the dome light on for two reasons –

a) The interior light will limit your visibility outside of the car.

b) You take a chance of being pulled over as your light can distract other drivers, and you look like you are doing something in the car and are distracted.

About the author

Nick Steiner

Nick has been a car nut for his whole life as far as he can remember. His father was a car dealer who used to change and repair his cars himself. As a result, Nick had the opportunity to get around all sorts of cars and learned to get his hands dirty repairing vehicles from an early age.

Nick is a great fan of Japanese quality and German preciosity. His deep passion lies in older models that he believes have a flair that takes him back to his childhood. He also loves their durability and reliability when compared to the modern models.

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