Your car interior gets dirty from normal everyday usage where dust settles inside, from a mishap like spilling french fries to accidentally leaving a window or door open at an inopportune time. Dirt can get into your vehicle, wreaking havoc with your controls.
When your car switches get dirty, particularly the switches on the driver’s door like the power window switches and the power mirror switch, they need to be cleaned. Dirty switches can wear and fail from the abrasive nature of dirt, sand, and other debris.
To clean your car switches:
Remove any loose dirt from the switch. Using a dry cloth, gently wipe the dirt off the switch. If you are able to, prevent any additional dirt from falling into the switch where it can obstruct the electrical contacts.
Blow dirt out of the switch. Using a can of compressed air, blow any dirt out of the dirty switches. This is especially important for often-used switches like the power window switches, power door lock switches, and power mirror switch.
Check the switch operation. Press the switch or switches you are cleaning to see if they function smoothly. If they stick or are hard to press, it may be that there is a sticky substance, such as soda, on the contacts.
Clean the contacts if necessary. Spray the dirty switches with electrical contact cleaner. If you notice any unusual colored gunk coming from the switch, repeat this step as necessary until the contact cleaner comes out clear. Blow the switches dry again with the can of compressed air.
Limit your use of dirty car switches until you have a chance to clean them properly. Dirt in the switch can cause wear on the electrical contacts and you may experience premature switch failure. Also, don’t use the switch until it has dried completely after cleaning.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as What to Do If Your Car Switches Get Dirty and was authored by Jason Unrau.