Having your footwell lights turn off automatically can be frustrating, especially when you rely on them to find dropped items or avoid stepping in puddles when getting in and out of your car at night. But there’s a surprisingly easy way to make your footwell lights stay on permanently, without requiring any tools or complicated electrical work. Read on to learn this simple trick to override your footwell lights’ built-in automatic shutoff.
What Are Footwell Lights?
Footwell lights, sometimes referred to as foot lights, are small lights built into the footwells – the cavities under the dash where passengers’ feet rest. They illuminate the floor of the front and sometimes rear footwells with a dim glow, making things like pedals, floor mats, and any other items dropped on the floor visible at night.
Nearly all modern vehicles have footwell lighting integrated into the design. They are controlled through an ambient light sensor, meaning they turn on automatically when it gets dark enough and shut off after either a set amount of time or when sunlight is detected again. This helps vehicles conserve battery power when parked overnight or not in use.
Why Footwell Lights Turn Off Automatically
There are two reasons why footwell lights have an automatic shutoff function:
- To Save Battery: Having constant lights glowing overnight could lead to a dead car battery, so auto manufacturers program them to switch off after around 30 seconds in darkness. This prevents unnecessary battery drain when the car isn’t being actively driven.
- Daytime Running Lights Law: Transport regulations in many countries require daytime running lights to be on whenever a vehicle is operational. So carmakers wire the footwells lights to the same circuit – meaning they have to cut out when daylight is sensed so the DRLs can take over illumination duties.
How to Override the Automatic Shutoff
Luckily there’s an easy way to override the auto shutoff mechanism and make your footwell lights stay on permanently. All you need to do is:
- Open the fuse box. This is usually located under the steering column but check your owner’s manual if unsure.
- Locate the fuse controlling the footwell/interior lights. It will likely be labelled as such. If not, check for a 5A, 7.5A or similarly small amp fuse.
- Pull out the fuse and cut one of the metal connector strips inside. Make sure not to cut both! This leaves it still making contact while disabling the automatic cutoff feature.
- Insert the fuse back into its slot and the footwell’s lights should now remain constantly on. No more frustration over going dark after 30 seconds!
If your footwell lights still refuse to stay on after modifying the fuse, there are a few issues that could be preventing it from working:
- Faulty ambient light sensor – unplugging this can sometimes resolve the issue. Consult a mechanic if unsure of the sensor’s location.
- Wrong fuse pulled – double check you cut power to the interior/footwell lights fuse specifically. Pulling the incorrect one won’t help.
- Additional control module – some newer cars have a BCM or CJB that overrides fuse modifications. You’ll need a professional to disable the auto shutoff function in this case.
Things to Be Aware Of
Before deciding to make your footwell lights permanent, keep these precautions in mind:
- Increased battery drain – leaving the lights on constantly places higher electric load on your car battery, especially if parked for extended periods. Check voltage levels don’t dip too low.
- Burned out bulbs – with no auto shutoff, the bulbs see much more use, shortening lifespan. Check for blown bulbs if a footwell goes dark.
- LED compatibility – LED footwell bulbs are powered differently than typical ones. This hack likely won’t make LED ones stay constant-on.
While overriding the built-in shutoff takes some extra electrical consideration, it’s a straightforward DIY job if done carefully. And means no more losing precious seconds of visibility each time you open a door at night!
Frequently Asked Questions
Still have some burning questions? Here are answers to a few of the most common queries:
How long will modified fuses last?
Snipping just one strip of metal shouldn’t drastically impact the fuse’s capacity or longevity. Feel free to drive normally with adjusted ones in place.
Is this legal to do?
There are no laws expressly banning fuse modifications of this kind. As long as you own the vehicle, adjusting fuses to enable constant footwell lighting is perfectly legal across North America and Europe.
Will cutting the fuse void my car warranty?
Possibly. Technically any “unauthorised” modifications can threaten warranty coverage should an unrelated fault occur down the track. But provided it’s done properly most manufacturers turn a blind eye to minor tweaks like this.
Can I have a mechanic perform the fuse modification instead?
Absolutely. If you don’t feel comfortable accessing and cutting fuses yourself, any auto electrician can do it quickly for a nominal service fee. It only takes a few minutes so shop rates should be very affordable.
Don’t let temperamental technology ruin your experience by having footwell lights turn off automatically right when you need them most. With only minor DIY fuse adjustment, it’s now possible to enable constant illumination below the dash at all times. Just be conscious of increased power draw and bulb longevity if opting for permanent lighting. But beyond that, enjoy never having to clumsily feel around the dark footwells of your vehicle again!