Turn Off Headlights When Ignition Off




Introduction: Turn Off Headlights When Ignition Off

I bought my oldest son a used 2007 Mazda 3 last week. It is in great condition and he loves it. The problem is that since it is an older base model it doesn't have any extra bells or whistles like automatic headlights. He was driving a Toyota Corolla that he passed down to his little brother but it had automatic headlights so he never had to worry about turning them off. I was worried he would forget to turn them off one day off at college and come back to a dead battery.

Step 1:

I racked my brain trying to come up with a simple solution that perhaps involved tapping a fuse that provided power only when the ignition was on and somehow using that to supply power to the headlights but the problem is that there are five different fuses for the headlights: Right-side low beam, left-side low beam, right-side high beam, left-side high beam and one 40 amp fuse under the hood that runs them all. Even if I were to somehow interrupt the power to the headlights through one or all of the fuses, the car still thinks the headlights are on because the switch is still in the on position and the car makes a loud warning sound while the drivers side door is open with the ignition off. That would become annoying.

Step 2:

I decided the best way was to go to the source and that was the headlight switch on the turn signal stalk. Luckily exposing that only involved loosening four screws. Two under the steering wheel shroud and two that hold the stalk to the steering wheel column.

Step 3:

I probed the stalk assembly using my multimeter and determined that interrupting the peach wire was the same as turning the headlight switch to the off position. How I determined this was because there was continuity between the peach and red wires when the switch was turned to headlights and continuity between the peach and orange wires when the switch was turned to parking lights but no continuity between any of them when the switch was turned off.

Step 4:

I decided to use a 12 volt automobile relay to interrupt the peach wire when the ignition was off to simulate the headlight switch being in the off position. I pushed the peach wire's pin back out of the wire connector and luckily it was almost identical to an RC servo pin of which I have plenty. I used some thin RC servo wire and peeled off the yellow wire so I was left with only a red and back wire. I soldered and crimped a female servo pin onto the black wire and pushed it into the wire harness and soldered and crimped a male servo pin onto the red wire and pushed that into the peach wire's female pin. Basically what I did was make the peach wire super long because shorting the ends of the red and black wires together completes the peach wire's original path.

Step 5:

This is the stalk assembly with the protective cover reinstalled. In the second picture you can see my red and black servo wire disappearing into the dash. I fished it over to the fuse panel located in the passenger seat footwell.

Step 6:

Here is the 12 volt automobile relay mounted behind the fuse tray. The white wire is ground or negative and the red wire goes to a positive terminal that is energized only when the ignition is on. When that happens it closes the relay and provides continuity between the yellow and blue wires that I have connected to the ends of my red and black servo wire using a JST connector. Remember, shorting the red and black wires together completes the peach wire's circuit.

Step 7:

Here is the schematic of a typical 12 volt automobile relay.

Step 8:

I used a mini fuse tap to connect the positive terminal of the relay to a fuse position that is energized only when the car's ignition is turned on. In this case it was to a moonroof which this car definitely does not have.

Step 9:

Now when the car ignition is turned off the relay opens and interrupts the peach wire and the headlights turn off regardless of the switch position on the stalk. If the switch was left on, then when he starts the car the headlights come on automatically which my son said he might do since his driver's ed instructor told him he should drive with his lights on all the time anyway. At least now I won't have to worry about him running down his battery! Thank you for looking!



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    26 Discussions

    What is the silver piece connecting to the peach wire?
    What gauge wiring at you using?

    In addition what size but connectors are you using?

    Would there be a way to put a second switch in the circuit so I can bypass the relay if necessary? (so I can keep the lights on when the ignition is off if need be)

    Ok thanks! So I don't need to use 87a or even have a replay with 87a pin. Thanks for the updated diagram I will prob complete this weekend.

    Can you provide the colors you wired to the relay port number. I'm trying to follow how you connected yours and what side of the peach wire goes to 87 and what side goes to 87a. I have a Mazda 3 and was looking for this exact article. I was about to give up until I found your article

    1 reply

    It doesn't matter which side goes where because when the ignition is turned on and closes the relay, all it is doing is providing continuity between the blue wire (30) and the yellow wire (87). These relays are normally used to provide 12V power to an accessory such as fog lights or an LED light bar. In that case the blue wire (30) is usually also connected to the 12V source and when the relay is activated it passes the 12V current on to the the yellow wire (87) which is connected to the accessory. In this case, however, all we are simply doing is passing the peach wire's signal from the the blue wire (30) to the yellow wire (87) to complete it's path.


    OK, parking lights turn off also when low beam switch position ON but what if I switched to parking light when ignition off? are they working?

    1 reply

    No, the parking lights will not work with the ignition off the way I have it wired.

    Thats cold

    Woah. This is cool. Probably too "next level" for me, but nice one. Totally got my vote.

    This replayreb cat always knows whats up!

    That's pretty much exactly as I would have done it. Light switch will still operate as normal as long as ignition is turned on even if engine isn't running and can be turned off if he's sitting there listening to music or something (my stepdaughter used to do it, she could flatten battery by using car stereo system.) Ultimately though, it would be better to 'train' your son to check light switch, all the 'bells and whistles' on new cars just promote irresponsible behavior as 'car will do it for me' and get treated like a mobil living room

    Doesn't the buzzer remind him? Just make it louder :)

    replace it with a recording "If your battery goes flat, I'm not driving
    out at 3am to jump start your car, if your battery...." :D

    Ideally you want to control the lights through some logic. e.g. as follows

    on + light switch on : lights turn off when the ignition is turned off
    or the light switch is turned off (As you have it)

    Ignition off + lights on : lights turn off when light switch is off, or ignition turned on and off again.

    You may also want to include a delay-off timer while at it.

    If any
    one of your mods fails you may have quite an issue! The original setup
    is pretty robust. You must be able to turn the lights on and off as
    required. If either fail you may have a dangerous condition. Is a flat
    battery worse than a crash?

    And, BTW, most modern cars (in
    Europe at least) use CAN or low current signals into the management unit
    that then controls systems using logic, so adding a light sensor gives,
    self dipping, auto switch on, auto switch off, delay off etc. this is fairly
    simply without complicated cabling and lots of relays.

    On my own car, my lights will turn off if the ignition is off AND I open the drivers door. If I want my side lights left on while away from the car, I have to turn my lights off, with the ignition off, and turn them on again!

    My wife's car has a buzzer! :( Never left them on.

    Nice clear instructable though :)

    1 reply

    Thanks! Cars are getting more complicated with the computers and electronics for sure. I found this relay that has an adjustable delay that could keep the headlights on for up to three minutes after the ignition is turned off. It fits a standard 12v automobile relay harness so it is plug and play. http://www.qualitymobilevideo.com/bu508td.html


    1 year ago

    Hopefully the lights don't turn off when he's driving down the road at
    night causing him to crash the car or a Truck to crash into him, what
    happens if the relay stops working?

    1 reply

    I thought about that and I guess I could wire two relays both in parallel for redundancy but there are many relays in a car and any one of them could fail at any time. I agree none are as critical as the one for your headlights so I did tell my son that if his headlights go off while driving he should pull back on the stalk (for flashing your headlights) and hold it until he can pull over safely.


    1 reply

    OMG! I watch those guys all the time on Youtube but I swear I have never seen that episode! I'm glad I didn't or else I wouldn't have figured out how to do it with only one relay without cutting any high power wires to the headlights.

    Well done. Very handy

    This is forbidden in France (and I think elsewhere as well), you always must be able to turn your light on. It is an obvious question of safety. You'd better turn a buzzer on.