What Is A Dome Light In A Car? Essential Things You May Not Know

Every car boasts a lighting system with several types of lights, and they often have certain functions. But have you ever heard of the dome light?

What is a dome light in a car? What are its common problems, and how to deal with them? Let’s discover.

What Is A Dome Light In A Car?

What is a dome light in a car

Dome lights are a car’s overhead lights that illuminate the interior area of the vehicle. Normally, it can be turned on automatically and adjusted manually to change the brightness.

What Is The Function Of Car Dome Lights?

Most vehicles come with interior lights, one of which is dome lights or courtesy lighting parts. 

They are usually installed on the vehicle’s ceiling to light up the inside zone. For cars with panoramic sunroofs, the dome lamps will be mounted on the small top connecting the 2 roofs.

It is always used when the vehicle operates at night or in low ambient lighting conditions such as rain, fog, or dense dust. The beam of light coming from it can illuminate the entire interior of the car.

The light helps the driver easily see the equipment and tools inside the car.

It’s also easier and safer to control the vehicle when the driver has a clear view of the controls, signals, and indicators on the dashboard.

The automatic lights usually turn on automatically when people get in and off when they are out of the car or the engine is off. They will stay on until passengers fasten their seat belts.

The dome lights have a brighter glow than other interior ones, but you can adjust their brightness easily.

How Many Types Of Car Dome Lights?

This car light can be designed with various shapes, sizes, and colors. One of the popular dome lights cars is round lamps.

It has a wide lighting area, facilitating the driver to see what’s in the car and not be distracted while driving.

Most of their wiring connection is hardwired, and the bulbs are LED lights. Round dome lights are the cheapest at $12 and the most expensive being at $115, depending on the size.

Rectangular dome lights are another choice as their design is suitable for some car interiors. It also has a wide illumination zone and is durable.

A rectangular lamp has the lowest price of $7 and the highest price of $330.

Different colored lights are produced based on the intended usage. In addition to the popular white color, drivers often choose yellow and green to have a relaxing time in the vehicle.

Besides, blue lights are often selected for workspaces. There are also red and purple lamps.

What Is A Map Light In A Car? Is It The Same With Dome Lights?

Map lights and dome lights for cars are often confused with each other because they are quite similar and have relatively close installation locations.

The map lamps are installed on the front or top of the vehicle. You can easily turn it on by pressing the switch button on their lens.

The main lighting range of map lights is at the front of the vehicle, so they are often installed near the windshield. They really help when the windshield doesn’t defog.

Common shapes of map lights are circles, squares, and rectangles.

Unlike map lamps, dome lights are usually equipped in the center of the car’s ceiling to light up every corner of the car.

It will automatically turn on when someone closes or opens the car door, or when you turn off the ignition.

How Long Does A Dome Light Bulb Last?

Lights of older vehicles are designed from incandescent lamps, while newer models use LED bulbs.

The typical incandescent bulb has a rather short lifespan, typically only lasting between 1,000 and 2,000 hours, so it’s less than a month before you need to replace it.

However, the LED lamp life is longer, lasting from 25,000 to 50,000 hours. Thus, if the light is turned on at moderate brightness and not operating at full capacity, it can last about 1 year.

Common Problems Related To Car Dome Lights

dome light car

Burned Out Bulbs

LED burnout usually occurs when the outside temperature is too high. Led lights are made of optical glass material, so the temperature of the bulb cannot escape quickly.

The increased heat from the outside and the temperature inside the LED will cause the bulb to burn out.

Blown Fuses

If all the dome lights in the car have stopped working, but other parts, such as the radio or dashboard, are still working, the “lights” fuse may have burned out.

It may be rooted in an overload current that suddenly burns the wire.

You can check for a damaged fuse by opening the fuse box under the dashboard. Use a flashlight and look for the “lights” label. Burned fuses will usually be black.

Otherwise, a multimeter or test light comes in handy to check which fuse is blown.

Wiring Problems

Some short circuits related to a wiring fault can cause the light not to switch on. It can also be triggered by faulty crimp connectors or strong vibrations when the car performs on bumpy points continuously.

Most short circuits are found in locations where wires are bent or tangled.

How To Handle Dome Light Malfunctions?

overhead car light

If the light bulb burns out, you should replace it with a new one. Besides, clean inside the lights as dust and small insects can get in and dim the lights from the bulb.

You also need to replace the fuse if you find it burned. Buy a new fuse with the correct wattage of the bulb.

You can look at the bottom or side of the fuse to get the maximum allowable current or the fuse amperage.

It’s best to invest in a variety of fuses with different amps and keep them in the storage compartment in case of sudden damage.

If it is a short circuit or shorted wiring problem, remember to ask the mechanic workers to solve it because it can be quite complicated.


How Much Does Car Dome Light Bulb Replacement Cost?

Depending on the vehicle, replacing a bulb of the car dome light can range from $105 to $400, of which the parts cost ranges from $10 to $300, and the labor cost is around $95.

Usually, newer cars will have a higher expense of replacing the overhead car light.

What Are Other Types Of Car Lights?

Along with dome lights, each standard car will be armed with exterior headlights (forward light), turn signal lights, fog lights, daytime running lights (DRLs), plate lights, brake lights, tail lights, ambient lights, and rear lights.

Other car cabin lighting products are map lights and door mood lights.


What is a dome light in a car? It is a car overhead light installed in the center of the ceiling to light up the entire interior of the vehicle. Automobile dome lights come in various shapes, sizes, and colors.

Common problems it may encounter are bulb burn, fuse blown, and electrical short. We hope you have found useful information to deal with these problems. See you later.

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