Car Lights Won’t Turn Off? 10 Reasons Why


Are you having trouble with your car’s lights? This can happen to anyone and is especially common in some older cars. This is an issue that can be caused by several factors, so narrowing it down to one can be difficult.

We gathered the 10 most common reasons that your car’s lights will not turn off. Keep reading to see if you can find your reasons below, we hope that this guide can help you!

If Interior Car Lights Won’t Turn Off

Dome lights won't turn off

1. An Activated Control Knob

When your interior car lights are not turning off, one of the most common reasons is that the control knob has been activated. If your dome light is on, this is probably the reason. 

If you can’t turn it off, that means that one of your car’s switches is probably stuck in the on position. You can try adjusting the dome light switch to see if you can lower the brightness, or even turn the light off the whole way.

Try adjusting the brightness. If this doesn’t work, or the lights still won’t turn off, your control knob is likely broken. You might want to remove the bulb to keep from draining the battery of your car until you can take it to a mechanic.

2. A Broken Door Switch

This is another reason why your interior car lights might not turn off. To determine if this is the case, you will want to open each door and find the door switch. You are looking for a switch that is in the open position.

You can do this by pressing each switch to see if the lights turn off. When you push them, you should also hear a clicking noise. A lack of sound can indicate a broken door switch

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A broken door switch causes your car to think that the doors are always open, meaning the lights will never shut off. You would need to fix this ASAP or else your battery will eventually drain and that could leave you stranded somewhere.

A sensitive door switch can also cause your alarm to go off.

If Headlights Won’t Turn Off

Headlights won't turn off

1. Engine Timer is Not Working

In some cars, after you shut off your engine, the headlights will stay on for a certain amount of time. If you notice that your headlights are still staying on and you know that your car has this system in place, then this could very well be the problem.

You will want to try shutting off the headlights before turning off the engine. If that works, then this is likely the issue.

2. Automatic Lights Failed

Other types of cars have headlights that turn on automatically based on the amount of light outside. If that system were to stop working, your headlights might stay on constantly. You can try to use the parking brake and see if that turns them off.

This is because the parking brake typically normally will disable the automatic function of the lights. If that seems to be the problem, then you can replace the automatic running light system to ensure that they turn off. Completely removing the system works just as well.

3. Broken Headlight Relay

This is another reason why your lights might stay on. When this happens, the system is sending bad relay information, making it impossible to turn the headlights off. 

This system is located under the hood of your car, it relays a signal to the headlights that tell them how long they need to wait to shut off. You can tell if this is what is causing the problem by gently tapping the relay. The lights might flicker or shut off- if they do then this was certainly what was going wrong.

Swapping out headlight relays is an easy project and will fix the problem easily.

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4. One Headlight is On

Are you wondering why one headlight stays on when your car is off? This happens to many people, especially if you happen to have a newer car. This is because this is another problem that can be caused by faulty automatic lights. 

Sometimes, the lights get out of sync and only one will continue to stay on after the automatic shutdown time. You can try using the parking brake again to test this theory- if they shut off when you use it, then this was the problem.

However, a burned out headlight could also cause this scenario. Be sure to check if your bulb needs replaced before you consider going to a mechanic.

If Parking Lights Won’t Turn Off

parking lights on Land Rover

1. Turn Off Parking Light Switch

This is a common problem that is easy enough to fix. If your parking lights stay on when your car is off, you might just need to hit the parking light switch. 

This switch is usually located on or near your steering column. This switch controls whether or not the lights are on- even if the key is not in the engine. All you need to do to fix this problem is to flip the switch. Your parking lights will shut off right away.

You may need to search your owner’s manual if you are having trouble finding this switch. It can be in different locations depending on the make and model of your vehicle.

2. Crossed Circuits: Car Lights Won’t Turn Off

This is a less common reason as to why your parking lights might not be shutting down when you need them to. Circuits can become crossed and cause all kinds of issues with the lighting in your car.

You can tell this is the problem if you have other lighting issues that happened before the parking lights began malfunctioning (or even the same time). For example, you might notice that lights on your dash are blinking randomly, or you’ve had some problems with the headlights recently.

Before you decide that this is the problem, be sure that you check that the parking light switch is in the off position. If it is, and the lights remain on, then crossed circuits could very well be the issue. This fix will likely require a mechanic.

3. Something is Disrupting the Auto-Off Feature

This could happen to your headlights as well. Sometimes, some foreign object is blocking the sensors in the auto-off relay feature. This causes the car to think that it is always dark outside, meaning that it will leave the lights on all the time. 

There might also be a glitch that is disrupting the relay timer. This keeps the lights from shutting down after the engine has been turned off, as they are never given the signal to do so. If you are unsure of where the relay system is in your vehicle, take a look in your manual. Otherwise, contacting a mechanic is always an option.

4. Bad Turn Signal Relay

Sometimes, your turn signal can get stuck in the on position. This is annoying for you as well as other drivers – they think that you are waiting to turn, but you never seem to want to go.

When your turn signal is stuck on, you will want to fix it right away. It most likely is another issue with a bad signal relay. 

It also could be caused by a broken spring in the turn signal arm. This spring activates after you have completed your turn and shuts down the blinking light. However, if it were to break, then your turn signal would not stop.

You might be able to tell if this is the problem if your steering arm “feels” different- the spring is not causing the arm to return to its original position after you complete the turn, in most cars. This can be difficult for you to access so it would be best for a professional to take a look at the turn signal arm.

If you have lights that are stuck on, you do not want to leave them on for a long time, as they can drain the battery of your car. This would make it impossible to start up later unless you were able to have someone else come and jump it for you.

You do not want the battery to die, especially if you are far away from home- so what can you do? There are two easy ways to keep the battery from draining.

First, you can disconnect the battery cables from the battery. You will need to be careful while you do this. You want to be sure you only use the proper tools and always start by disconnecting the negative cables.

Second, you can try removing the relay to turn the headlights off. This is much more complicated and you need to know exactly which relay controls the lights that are stuck on before you start messing around with them.

Those are 10 reasons why your car’s lights might not be turning off. Once you have located the issue, you can easily have it fixed by a mechanic- or yourself, if you have the know-how.

Be sure that you do not let your battery drain, as this can keep your car from starting back up when you need it to.

Related: Why Car Lights Flicker

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