Since every part of your car is controlled or operated by a switch in some fashion, it is to be expected that the switch will eventually fail. Some of the most commonly used switches in your car are:
- Power door lock switch
- Driver’s side window switches
- Headlight switch
- Ignition switch
- Cruise control switches
It is not common for these switches to fail; rather, it is simply more likely that these commonly-used switches will be the ones to stop working. Whenever possible, it is best to address or replace a switch when it shows symptoms but hasn’t completely failed yet. Switch failure can leave you in a tough situation if the system it controls is a safety-related or an integral feature to vehicle operation. Some symptoms may indicate issues with the switch or the system it operates:
The electrical switch works intermittently. If you notice that a button doesn’t always work on the first press or requires frequent presses before it operates, it may indicate the button is dying and needs to be replaced. It can also indicate a problem with the system. For example, if you press the window switch several times and the window only moves after a few tries, it may actually be a failing window motor or window switch.
The button doesn’t stop operating the system. In the same example of a power window, if you press the button to roll the window up, and the window does not stop moving up when the button is released, the switch may be failing.
The electrical switch partially stops operating. Sometimes, a dying switch can stop operation of certain functions while other features continue to work. Take, for instance, an ignition switch. When you cycle the ignition switch, it supplies power to all interior vehicle systems. A failing ignition switch can provide power to interior accessories while being unable to provide power to the starting system to start the car.
Whether it is for a minor convenience system or for an integral vehicle control, have any electrical problems or dying switches diagnosed and repaired by a professional mechanic. Electrical systems are complicated and can be dangerous to work on if you are inexperienced.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Tell If Your Car Switches Are Dying and was authored by Jason Unrau.