Every feature in your car is controlled by a switch or button. Most are actively controlled, such as the power windows and power door locks, by means of pressing a button. Systems that are actively controlled include:
- The rear window defogger
- The headlights
- Cruise control
- Heated seat switches
- The radio power, station selection, volume and more
Even if your vehicle’s accessories aren’t actively controlled by a switch, they are passively controlled. The ignition switch activates power to components that are on all the time when the ignition is on, such as the speedometer.
There is no exact number of button presses you get before a switch fails. Switches can fail at anytime because they are an electrical component. Inside a button or switch there are electrical contacts that can be very delicate. While excessive pressure or frequent use will eventually cause them to fail, the switches can still fail even with gentle and infrequent use.
In order to make your car’s switches last as long as possible, there are a few steps you can take;
Avoid contact with water or other liquids
Water can and will cause corrosion on electrical components, so if you spill anything on a switch or if you leave a window open in the rain, try to dry the switches as much as possible. Use a small can of compressed air to blow the switches dry if you have it available.
Use your control buttons sparingly
Avoid unnecessary switch presses whenever you can. For example, pressing the power window button needlessly not only puts strain on the window motor itself but adds to the likelihood of switch failure. You can also engage the child lock on the driver’s controls to prevent undue stress on the rear seat switches and motors.
Use your car switches gently
If a button is not moving freely where it should, don’t force it. It's possible that something sticky or a small object is preventing a switch from moving as it should and pressing harder or carelessly can cause the switch damage. Clean the switch with electrical contact cleaner and ensure it is not blocked by an object.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Make Car Switches Last Longer and was authored by Jason Unrau.