Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Headlight Switch

headlight switch

Bad or Failing Headlight Switch Inspection

by a top-rated mechanic at your home or office

The headlight switch, commonly referred to as the dimmer switch, is the electronic switch that is responsible for controlling the vehicle’s headlight functions. They are most commonly found as a part of the combination switch lever that is usually mounted on the steering column, however they can also be found as buttons or knobs mounted on the interior of the vehicle. The switch usually controls the vehicle’s interior lights, the running lights, the low beam headlights, high beam headlights, and in some vehicles the automatic headlight system. As with any electrical switch, with regular use, it may eventually wear out and need to be replaced. Usually a bad or failing headlight switch will produce a few symptoms that can alert the driver of a potential issue.

HAVE SYMPTOMS OF CAR TROUBLE?
Get an $80 diagnostic
by a top-rated mechanic at your home or office.

Get a quote · Book an Appointment · Our expert mechanics come to you.

1. Issues switching between modes

One of the most common symptoms of a faulty headlight switch is issues switching between headlight modes. If the headlight switch fails or wears out it can cause problems operating the headlights. A broken switch may only work on certain modes, or may cause them to come on and off intermittently and erratically. Any problems with the vehicle’s lights can become a safety hazard due to the decrease in illumination and visibility.

2. Issues with the high beams

Another symptom of a bad or failing headlight switch is issues operating the high beams and more specifically, issues keeping the high beam engaged. Most headlight switches operate by pulling the lever backwards and locking it into place to activate the high beam headlights. Over time however the switch can break, which can lead to issues keeping the high beam headlights turned on. A broken switch may still be able to turn the high beams on, however a faulty switch may pop loose and cause the high beams to disengage.

HAVE SYMPTOMS OF CAR TROUBLE?
Get your car fixed at your home or office.

Get a quote · Book an Appointment · Our expert mechanics come to you.

3. None of the lights work

Another symptom, one of more serious issues, is vehicle lights that do not work at all. If the headlight switch completely fails it may prevent all of the vehicle’s lights from functioning. You may find that when you go to turn on the headlights, none of the modes will turn on any of the lights. A vehicle without any functioning lights is not safe to drive, especially in low light and nighttime situations.

Usually a faulty or problematic headlight switch will produce quite noticeable symptoms, however sometimes other problems can produce the same symptoms. If you suspect that your headlight switch may be having an issue, have the vehicle inspected by a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic, to determine if the switch should be replaced.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Still not sure about your car's issue?
Diagnose your car
What kind of issue are you experiencing?
Brakes are squeaking
Car is not starting
Car is overheating
Car is shaking (vibrating)
Fluids are leaking
Heating and A/C
Smoke or steam is coming out of the car
Warning light is on
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

How Long Does a Fuel Filler Neck Last?
Getting gas from the pump to your gas tank is the only way to keep a car going. The fuel filler neck is a metal tube that is welded to the...
P0052 OBD-II Trouble Code: HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1)
P0052 code definition HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1) What the P0052 code means This code is seen when the Engine Control Module (ECM) tries to control the...
Insurance Requirements for Car Registration in Kentucky
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet requires that all drivers in Kentucky carry liability automotive insurance, or “financial responsibility” in order to operate a vehicle legally and maintain vehicle...


Related questions

Q: Headlights and dashboard both blink rhythmically when I turn them on 2003 Element

Hello and thank you for contacting YourMechanic. There is a loose ground wire and a short in the ground system with the light switch. Turn the key off and rotate the switch back and forth fast for about 10 times....

Q: How do you use the Daytime Running Lights?

If your car is equipped with Daytime Running Lights (not available on all Fusions), they provide substantially better visibility during daytime driving. Unlike your headlights, the Daytime Running Lights are designed to make your car more visible to other drivers...

Q: Location of oil pressure switch

The pressure switch is on the engine block, in the area of the crankshaft pulley. To replace it, disconnect the negative battery cable. Raise and safely support the vehicle. Disconnect the oil pressure sensor electrical connector. Position a drain pan...