How do I shut off the interior lights in my Jeep when the tailgate is open?
May 21, 2010 12:26 PM   Subscribe

How do I turn the interior lights off in a 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee when the ignition switch is set to accessory and the tailgate/liftgate is open?

In February, we purchased a used 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

There is a drive-in theater (yes, they still exist) near where we live. Last weekend, we decided to go there for the first time with the Jeep. We backed in so that the tailgate was facing the screen. We'd prefer to watch the movies this way as it allows us to fold down the rear seat, put down some blankets and pillows, and lay down in the tailgate area watching the movies.

This particular drive-in theater broadcasts the sound on a low-power FM radio station, so you leave your ignition in the accessory position and tune your radio to that station to hear the dialogue and soundtrack.

Our Jeep has a tinted liftgate glass. When we open the glass or entire tailgate, the interior lights stay on as long as the ignition is in the accessory position (which we have to do to keep the radio on). This was annoying both to us and to people in cars next to ours, not to mention "against the rules," so we had to close the liftgate and tailgate. This made it very difficult to see the movies as the liftgate glass is tinted, not to mention the rear defroster being in the way.

We checked the owners' manual. It states that one can turn the interior lights off with the ignition in ACC and the tailgate/liftgate open by "pushing on the cover of the cargo light in the tailgate area to switch the interior lights off." In our Jeep, this light is on the tailgate door itself, rather than on the roof as indicated by the owner's manual -- there is no light there. But the cover of the light does not push in, nor does it appear to have a switch of any kind. So, we could not get the interior lights to shut off.

Google has proved nearly useless in this matter.

We tend to go to this drive-in theater several times each summer, and so I'd like to know how to shut the interior lights off. Workarounds for this problem, I suppose, are to either bring a portable radio so that we can shut the ignition off, or to park facing forward and watch the movie as we would in a standard passenger car. Neither of those are desirable.
posted by tckma to Grab Bag (6 answers total)
Have you tried turning the interior light dimmer switch all the way down? This worked on my Dad's Chrysler family cars.
posted by mkb at 12:28 PM on May 21, 2010

It's a little annoying, but you can always find and pull the proper fuse.
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:31 PM on May 21, 2010

You can just cock the door latch to close the switch and make it think the gate is closed. Take a smallish screwdriver and just simulate what the latch does, i.e. press on the mechanism where the latch would. Make sure to de-cock the latch before actually closing the door or else it will slam against the lock.
posted by Rhomboid at 1:08 PM on May 21, 2010

2nding Rhomboid.
posted by Jon-o at 3:10 PM on May 21, 2010

you can pull the fuse (might turn off other stuff you want on though)
you can pull the light bulb (usually pretty easy, just take the cover off and the bulb should be easily removeable)
you can find the sensor that tells the car when the gate is open and trick it inot thinking it is closed. Depending on where this is and how it works might be the easiest. Most times it is a plunger switch located around latch for whatever opens/closes (like the tailgate or the glass)
You can try the dimmer switch for the dash too but they don't usually go all the way to off.

Myself I would pull the light bulb
posted by bartonlong at 4:00 PM on May 21, 2010

3rding Rhomboid. That's what I'd probably do, but it can be a shock when you forget you did that and then get the big BANG when you try to shut the gate.

Another option might be to cover the dome light with some black duct tape, but removing the bulb is probably the quickest, lowest-maintenance method.
posted by chazlarson at 4:16 PM on May 22, 2010

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