Author Topic: How can I minimize the light show my car puts on?  (Read 481 times)

Deandre Fulce

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How can I minimize the light show my car puts on?
« on: December 29, 2017, 03:59:18 AM »
I bought a new Ford a while back and it just isn't appropriate for driving to a star party or dark sky site. Danged thing lights up like a Christmas tree when a door or the trunk is opened. I doubt that I'd be very popular if I generated this much light pollution while loading up to leave while others are still observing/imaging.

Open the trunk: Parking lights, license plate light, and trunk lights turn on.

Open either rear door: Parking lights, license plate light, <strike>and two dome lights</strike> turn on.

Open either front door: Parking lights, license plate light,<strike> two dome lights,</strike> two footwell lights, left and center LCD display panels, instrument panel gauge cluster lights and control LEDs, center console LEDs, and steering wheel cruise control/phone/radio/menu LEDs turn on. Why Ford designed all those dozens and dozens of LEDs, LCD panels, and analog gauge lights to turn on when there is no key in the ignition switch is a mystery to me!

When doors are closed, the parking lights and license plate light shut off immediately, but the interior LEDs and LCD panels and footwell lights remain on for 20 to 30 seconds (unless you start the engine).

Are there any better suited, astronomy-friendly new car models on the market?

Edit: Re-reading the manual, I found reference to a "Door Function Switch" and located it in the overhead front dome light panel. It disables both dome lights so they don't turn on when a door is opened. A small orange emblem lights up faintly to indicate the lights are off. That solves one part of the problem, but opening any door still turns on the parking lights and all the other interior lights. There is no reference to this in the manual.



canreosenbi

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Re: How can I minimize the light show my car puts on?
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2017, 05:39:14 PM »
Simple, just locate the fuse(s) that powers those lights and add an under dash board switch panel to disable them. It's cheaper than buying another vehicle.

bumabbefat

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Re: How can I minimize the light show my car puts on?
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2018, 03:53:05 PM »
There are people out there who reprogram the computers on newer cars. Hard to imagine that's desirable for you. But, as far as an astronomy friendly car is concerned, I think most everyone has kept up with the Joneses on this one, in some way or another. You might try something very cheap.

erexgila

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Re: How can I minimize the light show my car puts on?
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2018, 03:58:19 PM »
I think I have about the most astronomy friendly car out there, and Audi A4. If you turn the dome lights off, they will not come on. If you turn the headlights off, only brake and reverse will come on, even when driving. The trunk light will illuminate if you open the trunk, but it is in the back and faces down. The driver and passenger door have a light inside the map pocket area, which faces down. If you open the back door, lights under the front seat come on, but also face down. I don't open the doors or trunk at night unless I have to, but this is the most light friendly car I have seen.

seucamthepo

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Re: How can I minimize the light show my car puts on?
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2018, 07:33:54 PM »
Quote
I bought a new Ford a while back and it just isn't appropriate for driving to a star party or dark sky site. Danged thing lights up like a Christmas tree when a door or the truck is opened. I doubt that I'd be very popular if I generated this much light pollution while loading up to leave while others are still observing/imaging.

Open the trunk: Parking lights, license plate light, and trunk lights turn on.

Open either rear door: Parking lights, license plate light, and two dome lights turn on.

Open either front door: Parking lights, license plate light, two dome lights, two footwell lights, left and center LCD display panels, instrument panel gauge cluster lights and control LEDs, center console LEDs, and steering wheel cruise control/phone/radio/menu LEDs turn on. Why Ford designed all those dozens and dozens of LEDs, LCD panels, and analog gauge lights to turn on when there is no key in the ignition switch is a mystery to me!

When doors are closed, the parking lights and license plate light shut off immediately, but the interior lights remain on for 20 to 30 seconds (unless you start the engine).

Are there any better suited, astronomy-friendly new car models on the market?

If your car has that much going on electronically is may be advanced enough that the car's computer can be programmed to take care of the issues. My wife's Saab from ten years ago is very programmable. You may want to talk to the service department at your dealer.

Jairo Zilinskas

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Re: How can I minimize the light show my car puts on?
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2018, 12:34:00 AM »
Before you go to a star party, get some of the blue masking tape used by painters. The adhesive releases nicely, leaving no residue. This would be fine for all the led/lcd stuff, but you might want to test it out before you put it on any light that generates a lot of heat. I have never used it in that situation. I carry a roll of the 2" wide tape with me to help others if necessary. It still lets a little light through, but block the ugly glare.

nepaletha

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Re: How can I minimize the light show my car puts on?
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2018, 08:17:50 AM »
Quote
Simple, just locate the fuse(s) that powers those lights and add an under dash board switch panel to disable them. It's cheaper than buying another vehicle.

That may work but on my Ford many unrelated items are lumped together on the same fuse like the fuel pump and interior lights and gauges.

enmumenge

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Re: How can I minimize the light show my car puts on?
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2018, 02:32:35 AM »
Try looking for the sensors that tell the car when a door is open. Very likely they're simply buttons, in which case a piece of tape over the button may fool the car into thinking that the door is still closed.

David Williams

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Re: How can I minimize the light show my car puts on?
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2018, 08:25:31 AM »
Quote
Try looking for the sensors that tell the car when a door is open. Very likely they're simply buttons, in which case a piece of tape over the button may fool the car into thinking that the door is still closed.

That worked on my old Mercury, which had regular spring-loaded buttons, easy to temporarily disable. Nothing that conventional on my Ford. I'm not sure where the door sensors are located; probably in the latching mechanism. The sensor is definitely inside the latching mechanism in the trunk.

I can trip the trunk latch closed, once the trunk lid is up, to turn off the parking lights and trunk light. But, in order to close the trunk before leaving, I have to pop that latch open, firing up the parking lights and trunk light. And, of course, the bigger problem of opening doors to load the equipment really gets the light show going.

I'm going to talk to a technician to see if he is willing to reprogram the car. Maybe I can at least get it altered to stop turning on the parking lights (big and super bright) when any door is open. There shouldn't be any safety/product liability concerns over modifying that. Maybe they would also be willing to kill the 30 second delay before the interior lights turn off.

Edit: I discovered in the manual that my Ford has an unlabeled "Door Function Switch" in the overhead, which I hadn't noticed before. It disables both dome lights completely until you press that switch again (great feature!). That's a big step in the right direction, but everything else still lights up when a door is opened. I also edited the original post with this update.

soamezquipack

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Re: How can I minimize the light show my car puts on?
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2018, 12:40:51 PM »
I have a similar problem with my Ram truck and I found that I can disable all but the flashing blinkers and bed/cargo light by turning the instrument cluster dimming all the way down until it clicks. Very annoying since it does it anytime I touch a door handle. For the blinkers/cargo light I'm just going to have to go the tape route it appears.

Ryan Miller

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Re: How can I minimize the light show my car puts on?
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2018, 11:27:39 PM »
I used lens repair tape on the interior light, and cargo bay light, and pulled the DRL fuse. Beside DRL my truck has dusk sensor to AUTO light up. There is an adjustment that can turn this feature off next to the light switch. I found the Ford F150 to be the very worst star partier of them all, but my scopes don't fit in my Nissan sports cars. Friendly advice, get there early and stay until dawn, eh?

kondcongrese

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Re: How can I minimize the light show my car puts on?
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2018, 03:01:54 AM »
I have a 2010 F150 truck with same issue.....open door and the running lights come on and time out after 2-3 minutes.

FIX.....pull fuse #22 located in fuse panel next to front passenger kickplate.

Do this at star parties....just don't forget to put back in when leaving.

gatawestwall

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Re: How can I minimize the light show my car puts on?
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2018, 04:01:41 AM »
I'm back to wrap this up. My Ford dealership routed me through two technicians and finally, to their Service Manager. He said that the parking lights coming on and staying on, when any door or the trunk is opened is standard on all new Fords and will be so in the future. According to him, this was a corporate decision based on customer surveys and in-house studies which determined that women want the security of bright exterior lighting surrounding a vehicle when they enter, or exit. I asked about the parking lights coming on when the trunk lid is opened and he said, same reason.

So, Ford considers it a safety issue and will not reprogram the computer module, except on police cars. He said that if I were to find an independent shop willing to reprogram the module, my warranty would be voided on everything using that module (most of the car)..

I then asked if a fuse could be pulled to temporarily disable the parking lights and he said that the fuse involved is linked to too many other features and timers and would disrupt the computer module enough that it would require service.

Rats!

Joseph Butler

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Re: How can I minimize the light show my car puts on?
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2018, 01:46:18 AM »
Welcome to the Nanny State....along with dingers if you don't seat belt up (even in 4 wheel low) and cold rinse only wash cycles.

malphandrafsadd

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Re: How can I minimize the light show my car puts on?
« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2018, 03:19:10 PM »
Quote

<p class="citation">QuoteFriendly advice, get there early and stay until dawn, eh?

[/quote]