2007 Ford Escape, interior lights have a mind of their own, ON/OFF randomly

My wife has been driving this Escape for about a year after driving one she inherited from her father to 162K miles. This one has just under 70K now.

In the last month or so, the interior lights have begun to come on and go off at will. It can happen going down the road, or sitting in the garage for hours. When it’s running, the door chime may or may not sound. It sometimes comes on when it hits a bump, sometimes without one. I looked at it earlier, and the light was on. (I have turned the center one off. I don’t see a way to turn off the front ones) An hour later the light is off. No one has been in the car since this afternoon.

She says the car is haunted, and is now calling it Casper, even though it’s solid black.

I have tried the standard fix of lubricating the door latches several times. There are six latches including the rear hatch and rear window. I have used CRC electrical cleaner as well as subsequent doses of good old WD 40. I don’t know if there is an easy why to tell which switch might be causing the problem, so I have taken the shotgun approach.

The two remaining bulbs are tiny, so the battery has not run completely down, YET. The car is driven almost daily, sometimes several times in a day.

I’m beginning to think that the situation may not be caused by one of the door switches. What else can it be? Why does it cycle like that? I doubt that it’s haunted. Seriously.

Had an 03 windstar, last year traded it in, never did figure it out, also the guages would go goofy along with the blinking lights. Once a problem was the brake petal brake light switch, brake lights would stay on and kill the battery, In the daytime who notices the brake lights are on. One common cause seemed to be cracked solder joints on the cluster connection, tried resoldering, no change, even though I did not see any issues. A ford dealer had repalced the cluster in a couple of forums I read, $500 down the tubes for them. Cleaned and checked all contacts etc, and if I had to make a guess today, I would redo the wires going through the driver door and tailgate even though they look good. Had a problem with another car, things were not working, easier fix, everything pinpointed wires in the liftgate to body wires, looked 2 times, all looked good, finally got to testing circuits and sure enough one wire was bad.
So we got a new car, luckily leased it, 2 months later she was rearended at a stoplight, hassles with getting the other company to pay, her new toy now a repaired toy, she said if I knew all this was going to happen I would have kept the van, ran fne, good tires, brakes etc, but she at the time could not live with the freakouts. The RPM would pin itself past max!
Put a new battery in, due to venting gasses corroding terminals, cleaned every frikkin connection, was good for 3 months, then started acting up again. Try a clean and check all connections for battery and ground, and maybe even a new battery!
As an afterthought I would clean and check terminal wires and connections in the engine compartment also!

I seriously doubt that the courtesy lights would discharge the battery. The battery saver relay should time out after about 20 minutes, cutting power to the courtesy circuit until something happens to tell the car to wake up.

I think a decent scan tool should give you all the data you need to get to the bottom of this but you’ll have to be watching the data when it acts up.

@asemaster Great advice, but in our condition there was no rhyme or reason, The van would go postal, return to normal then behave for weeks at a time. Never a cel or any indication of an isssue after the event.

The “door ajar” switch was notorious for intermittant failures for several years and the failures were usually on the doors most often opened. Of course the switches trigger the lights on by grounding the circuit so a short to ground in the wires to the switches will turn them on. Tracking down chaffed wires causing an intermittant problem can be a real pain.

The “door ajar” switch was notorious for intermittant failures for several years and the failures were usually on the doors most often opened.

Or on the door least often opened. Having months go by without opening one of the doors would sometimes make that switch stick. The white grease would harden into a sludge.

If the trouble is due to a dirty door switch then lubricating the door latch isn’t going to cut it. You would need to clean the switch contacts themselves. To see if that really is the trouble you could monitor the voltage on the lines for each of the doors. Door switches usually close a connection to ground to turn on the lights. The voltage would be near zero volts when the switch is closed and the lights are on. When not on the voltage should be near battery voltage. The driver side door is the best suspect but the trouble could be with one of the other door switches.

The problem might not be caused by the door switches. But instead by what Ford calls the Smart Junction Box.

This is basically a computer with relays and fuses. And one of it’s functions is to turn on/off the interior lights when the keyless remote entry is used.


@Tester It doesn’t matter if the doors are locked or not. They are not locked in the garage, and they keep going on and off. I’ve never timed them to what the cycle time is.

It’s not a fix, but I wonder if there is a fuse for the interior lights that you could pull without losing other functions. That way you could at least stop the madness until you are ready to do the testing needed to find the cause.

Pulling the bulbs is better than pulling the fuse. The fuse is often tied to other functions. The door switches are mounted to the latch mechanism, so they are difficult to reach.

Here are the schematics for your courtesy lamps. The last drawing is the location under the dash of the Smart Junction Box.