Map Light vs Dome Light: The Key Differences

When considering customizing car lighting, most people only focus on the exterior lights like the fog, headlights, etc. But with the various options of LED lights, we can also customize our car interior lights to have an aesthetic appearance.

But when it comes to interior lights, motorists are confused about map and dome lights for some reason. Some don’t know their location and differences. But today, I’ll explain these lights and cover map light vs. dome light differences. But first, what is a map light in a car?

how does a dome light work

Map light Explained

Map lights are the two small lights on the front of the car ceiling. It is closer to the driver and the passenger in the front seat. As the name suggests, the map light is meant for reading maps at night while driving. It is typically two lights placed strategically side by side. This means the driver and the passenger can use the light anytime.

Aside from reading maps, this light can perform multiple purposes, like helping the driver and the front seat passenger find anything they want. Now, what is a dome light in a car?

Read Also: Inside Car Lights Won’t Turn Off: Causes and Fixes

Dome light Explained

A dome light is an interior light located at the center of the car ceiling. How does a dome light work? It is the interior light that turns on when you open the doors. Though, you can change the settings to “on,” “off,” or “door.” If you leave the switch at “door,” the light will only come on when the doors are open.

I believe you understand the light I’m talking about. A dome light is also called a courtesy light. So if you are wondering what is a courtesy light in a car, you now know the answer.

The purpose of the light is to provide lighting in the cabin, so drivers and passengers can find something, cross their seatbelts, etcetera.

Now that we have seen map and dome light meaning, let’s see their differences.

Read: Car Light Types: Everything You Should Know

Map light vs dome light Comparison Table

For a better understanding, let’s look at the differences between map and dome lights in a tabular form.

Map lights Dome lights
Map lights are placed on the front of the ceiling Dome lights are placed at the middle of the ceiling
Map light has different switches to lower the brightness according to your preference Dome lights also have different buttons to turn on, off, or set the light to on when you open the doors
Map lights have 360 angle-degree Dome light has a smaller angle degree of 180
Map lights usually have 400 to 420 lumens Dome light has around 280 to 300 lumens

Dome Light


What is the difference between a dome light and a map light?

As demonstrated in the table above, there are up to four differences between a dome light and a map light. The significant difference is their location, followed by the angle they cover, lumens, and their switches.

Map lights are mounted on the front ceiling, while the dome lights are mounted on the middle of the car ceiling. Dome lights have 280 to 300 lumens, while map lights have much brighter lumens of 400 to 420 for map readings, book readings, etc. Because map lights are needed for many tasks like map and book reading, they have 360 angle degrees, while dome lights have 180 angle degrees.

How do you change a dome light bulb in a car?

Changing a dome light bulb is as simple as ABC. It requires the following steps.

  • Remove the plastic cover with a tiny flat screwdriver
  • Press the little tab that holds the bulb in place to let it pop out
  • Inspect the bulb and ensure it is burnt. A burnt light bulb usually has a stripped or broken filament. But in some cases, you may have a broken head.
  • Visit your favorite auto spare store, head to the light bulb sections, and get the correct replacement bulb.
  • Install the new bulb. Depending on your car model, you may have to press the tab again to help your bulb slide in.
  • Turn on the switch to see if the light is working. If it’s okay, reinstall the plastic cover.

How much does it cost to replace the dome light?

Since light bulbs are one of the inexpensive car parts and the replacement procedure is easy, it is a cheap replacement. You will get the dome light bulb for as little as $5 up to $20 for premium brands. Budget around $10 to $50 to have a professional to replace it. But if you want to fix it yourself, budget around $5 to $20.

How much does it cost to replace map light?

Map lights are similar to dome lights in terms of replacement and cost of buying the bulbs. Budget to spend around $5 to $25 to buy a map light. You’ll spend between $10 to $50 to change the map light in a repair shop. But if you choose to replace the bulb yourself, you’ll only pay for the bulb.

How long do car dome lights last?

 There is no specific time the dome light will last because different brands manufacture dome bulbs. However, the dome light will die after a certain time due to age, power surge, wiring issues, or any other issues. There’s no reason to panic. All you need to do is pop out the light bulb and replace it as soon as it goes bad. It is inexpensive.

Final Words

In this Map light vs dome light comparison, you have seen the differences and similarities between map and dome lights.

The significant difference is their placement and operation. Map light is mounted on the front ceiling and is used mainly for reading maps and books, while the dome light is mounted on the center of the roof and is commonly used to illuminate light on the interior. Other differences include the view angle and the lumens.

If you have been reading to this point, you’ll be clear about the differences and similarities between map and dome light.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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