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What Are Toggle Switches and How Are They Used in Cars?

Switch Heated Seat

When you operate any function inside your car, you are using a switch in some fashion. There are rocker switches, push buttons, lever switches, and toggle switches, among many styles. All have different appearances and while some operate in the same way, they are used for different functions.

What is a toggle switch?

A toggle switch is any switch that is manually operated by moving a short handle. The short rod or handle on the switch moves back and forth and snaps into place in a springing action. A toggle switch can be a simple on/off switch or 2-way switch where different functions are selected based on position. It can also be a 3-way switch, where there is a center position and two end positions that all have a separate circuit or function. An example is a heated seat switch with a high, low, and off position.

What is a toggle switch used for in cars?

Toggle switches were commonly used in classic cars, and are still used in some car accessory installations such as fog light kits. It is less common, but toggle switches are used in some new vehicle applications such as dash controls on MINI vehicles and the Toyota FJ Cruiser. Toggle switches are able to handle a large amount of electrical current or voltage, and are ideal for direct-wired applications for systems that are not controlled by a relay. Off-road lights and winches are good examples of high current items that can be controlled with a toggle switch.

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