Nearly all your vehicle functions are operated by switches of some sort. When you start your car, the ignition cylinder activates the ignition switch. When you open your car’s power windows, you operate a switch. When you activate the rear window defogger, you press a switch. A switch is a component that changes the electrical input of a device, whether that is on or off, increasing or decreasing.
No matter what function it operates, every button in your vehicle is a switch. Their purpose is to turn on or off a feature or perform an adjustment. Some switches, like radio buttons and power door lock switches, are used much more than others.
Switches are prone to failure depending on how much they're used. A few switches particularly susceptible to failure are:
- The driver’s power window switch
- The driver’s side power door lock switch
- The ignition switch
- The headlight switch
Though these switches are more prone to wear than others, there is no set life expectancy. It is very possible that a power door lock switch can be used several thousand times and never fail. The ignition switch can be cycled dozens of times per day over the course of decades and never needs to be replaced. Though there are some that require replacement more commonly, it does not indicate that you should expect to replace it on your car.
If you do experience any problems with one of the switches in your vehicle, no matter if it is the defroster or the audio system, have an automotive repair professional inspect and replace the faulty switch.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How Long Do Car Switches Normally Last? and was authored by Jason Unrau.