Your car switches are electrical components. They operate internal and external vehicle functions that require low currents in some cases and high currents in others. These functions can be for lighting, accessories, heater controls, or power windows, to name a few. No matter what the electrical component, they all have water as their common enemy.
Water is very damaging to electrical parts. Damage that may occur includes:
- Blown fuses
- Wiring shorts
- Corrosion on contacts and wiring
- Possible fire
- Shorted switches
It is not uncommon to notice someone’s window open a little bit in the rain or snow. If that happens, it is possible that the car’s switches will get wet, especially the power window and power door lock switches.
If you notice that any switches inside your car have gotten wet with water, you should try to remove the water as quickly as possible. If the water is allowed to sit on the switches and penetrate down into the contacts, damage is likely to occur.
Wipe any excess water off with a microfiber cloth, towel, or paper towel. Try to soak the water up instead of moving it around to prevent getting water deeper into the switches.
Do NOT operate the switches while they are wet. Often a wet switch will be alright if it’s allowed to dry thoroughly before it is used again. Using a wet switch allows any more standing water to penetrate deeper. Also, if the switch is operated while wet, the water can short the switch, the wiring, or even cause a shock.
Blow the switch out with compressed air. Use a can of compressed air to push as much moisture out of the switch as possible. It will dry the switch quickly, which means water will not sit in the contacts, causing corrosion.
If the substance that got on your switches is not water, you will need to clean the switch to prevent it from sticking. Spray the switch with a can of electrical contact cleaner after drying it to clean away as much of the contaminant as possible. Let the electrical contact cleaner evaporate fully before trying the switch.
If your car switches get wet and stop working, have a professional mechanic diagnose and repair the affected system as soon as possible.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as What to Do If Your Car Switches Get Wet and was authored by Jason Unrau.