My husband always leaves the light on...

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jan 01, 1990

Dear Tom and Ray:

My husband the absent minded professor drives a 1989 Mitsubishi Galant. He's very happy with the car, but has one major problem. He invariably leaves the lights on and runs the battery down to where he has to get a jump start. The problem seems to be the light stalk. It's easy to brush it and turn it on by accident when using the turn signal. There is no warning of any kind to indicate that the lights have been left on when the key is removed. Can a device of some kind be added to the car to indicate that the lights have been left on?

RAY: The first thing you should do is ask the dealer if the switch detents (stops) are too loose. It shouldn't be so easy to "brush" on the lights by accident. If it's a faulty switch, replacing it will solve the problem.

TOM: Another thing you could try is a pilot light wired in parallel with the headlights. It would come on whenever the headlights are on. Unfortunately, in order for it to be effective, it would have to be fairly bright, and would have to be staring you right in the face. Your husband will probably take the bulb out to stop it from shining in his eyes, and then leave the lights on again.

RAY: A better option would be to invest in a Click and Clack Behavior Modification Kit. It consists of 45 scenic postcards from gas stations around the country. On the back of each one, write "Turn Off the Lights, Knucklehead." For the next 45 days, mail one to him every day. That way, when he gets out of the car and picks up the mail, he has a friendly reminder staring him right in the face. It's a matter of conditioning, Theresa. After he has to go back out in the cold seven or eight times to turn off the lights, he'll remember.

TOM: If that doesn't work, I'd consider a trade-in. See how much you can get for him. Maybe you can trade up to a nice doctor or lawyer.

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