How to Turn off Interior Lights with Hatch Open (6 Tips)

As you parked your hatchback, you turned off its interior lights with the switch. However, you noticed that the other overhead lights stay on until you closed the vehicle’s hatch. This operation isn’t hard, right? What about keeping the dome lights off while leaving the rear cargo-access door open for a long period? Never seen that happen before? It’s possible and your battery won’t get drained. I’ve come up with this guide to help you. Make sure you read to the end.   

How to Turn off Interior Lights with Hatch Open

Typically the interior lights should turn off after some time.  Depending on the causes, there are a couple of techniques to get over this issue. A relay issue is one of the most common reasons why the interior lights won’t go off with the hatch open.  Before I explain the steps or techniques to solve this issue, let me say a few things.

As a useful rule of thumb, the thing to do is to take the car out to a technician to diagnose the problem. In the meantime, there are things you can do to see if you can nip the problem in the bud. In most modern vehicles, there is an accessory delay relay in the fuse box. It is right located beneath the dashboard. The number of the relay differs, depending on your car. If one of the relays is having an issue, your car’s interior lights won’t go off with the hatch open.

However, the lights may turn off after some times. But if this doesn’t happen, then the following techniques will do the magic. Here’s how to switch off the interior lights with the lift gate open.

Technique 1: Slamming the door open

Try opening and shutting your car’s front or rear door. Do this repeatedly for a couple of times and the light should go off. You may need to check under the interior lighting of your car’s owner manual.  

Technique 2: Pry back wires

My recommended solution will require you to cut some wires to get the lights out. Now, let me take a few minutes to explain this fix.

  • Locate the plastic trim from the car ceiling, that’s farthest from the driver side. It contains some white wires, measured 5”-9”.
  • Then remove the tape used to connect the wires. These white wires come with purple stripes.
  • Cut the wires and the light will automatically turn off.  It doesn’t matter if the hatch is open. Before cutting the wires, make sure the doors are shut. 
  • Install an on/off switch
  • Turn the cut terminals of the wire and insert them into the switch.
  • Cap the cut ends and drill a hole to plug the switch.
  • Now snap the plastic securely back into place
  • Flip the switch while the window or hatch is left open

Technique 3: Swap the Relay

You can swap the relay out with the rear defroster relay. The fuse box also contains two smaller relays, known as the battery saver relays and the interior lamp relay. Simply, swap these relays with their likes. They are located under your car hood. Any of this should solve the problem. In case the issue still persists, you may need to dig deeper, and the fourth technique will blow your mind.

Technique 4: Clean the Relays

Sometimes the relays in the fuse box are dirty and filled with gunk. What you will need to do is to clean the points where the relays meet. Checking and cleaning the sockets should solve the issue.  Start by disconnecting the car battery. This way, you can reset the generic electronic module (GEM) or the central timing module (GEM). By design, the GEM is responsible for always energizing your car’s interior lights relay. If the GEM is bad due to the presence of corrosion or dirt, you’ll need to clean it. It is also possible that the running board lights are corroded. 

Technique 5: Trip the Window Latch

Another simple technique you can use to turn off the interior lights of your car when the hatch is open is to manually trip your car window latch to the close position. But this comes with a lot of caution. The window will smash if you try to close it when the latch is already in a shut position.  

Technique 6: Spray the door latches

You also have the option of spraying the door latches. But just before this, try to open and slam shut your car’s lift gate. If shutting the lift gate fails, then get some electrical contact cleaner to spray and clean them out. I won’t recommend the use of WD-40.  


How do I turn off car interior lights with the door open?

It’s pretty simple. Depending on your car, the dome light is located halfway on the car ceiling or just above the interior rearview mirror. You have two options. You can either put on/off the light or dim it. However, if you drive Ford, there is an option to turn the dome lights off when the hatch is open.

Is it safe to have the interior lights on?

Yes, having the interior lights on is to ensure your safety while in the dark. Other drivers can see you. Besides, it tells fellow road users that someone is in the dark. This way, they can keep an eye on you. 

Final Thoughts

So far, that ends our discussion for now. Thanks for journeying with me. Well, it’s safe to have the dome light on for safety reasons. But sometimes you want to do some stuff inside the car without being noticed. You can easily get things done in a jiffy if you follow this article. Remember, not all hatchbacks are designed to allow you to turn off the interior lights with the lift gate open. I hope this guide helps.