The combination switch is the electronic switch assembly that controls several vehicle functions. It is most commonly used to control the turn signals, the high and low beam headlights, and wipers. It is usually mounted on the left side of the steering column, where it is easily accessible to the driver. As the combination switch controls several functions that are important to safely operating the vehicle, when it has problems certain features can be disabled, which can cause a compromise in safety. Usually, a bad or failing combination switch will produce a few symptoms that can alert the driver of a potential problem that needs to be serviced.
1. Problems operating the turn signals
One of the first symptoms of a problem with the combination switch assembly is a problem operating the turn signal. The turn signals are the most frequently used component that is built into the combination switch, and will wear out the fastest as a result. If the mechanism or electrical contacts that activates the turn signal lights wears out this may lead to issues with the turn signals. Worn contacts may cause the turn signal lever to function intermittently, or not at all.
2. Problems operating the headlights
Another symptom of a potential problem with the combination switch are problems operating the headlights. For vehicles with the headlight switch built into the combination switch, if the switch wears out or breaks, it will cause problems with the headlights. A damaged switch may cause the headlights to only work on certain settings, or may not be able to turn them on at all.
3. Problems operating the wipers
Problems operating the wipers are another issue commonly associated with a bad combination switch. If the lever or knob that operates the wipers breaks or becomes worn it will not be able to properly activate the wipers. Depending on the exact problem, the wipers may function intermittently, only on certain settings, or not at all.
The combination switch controls several functions that are important for safely operating the vehicle. For this reason, if your vehicle is displaying any of the symptoms above, have the vehicle inspected by a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic. They will be able to determine if your car needs a combination switch assembly replacement.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Combination Switch Assembly and was authored by Ed Ruelas.