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Q: Are My Car’s Switches Waterproof?

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Are my car’s switches waterproof?

A: If the switch is on the exterior of your ve...

If the switch is on the exterior of your vehicle, yes.

You have a number of switches located all over your vehicle. Those switches control the circuits for the power windows, power door locks, sunroof, seat warmers, stereo, and many other components. These switches can fail for any number of reasons, causing them to no longer function.

The most common cause for switches to fail is wear and tear. Over time, just from daily use, the electrical contacts in the switch wear down, and eventually no longer make contact. When this occurs the switch needs to be replaced. Even though wear causes the majority of switch failures, contact with liquid is also a culprit. Switches that are located on the outside of your vehicle, (such as those for the doors, trunk, or rear hatch,) will be water proof, as they are exposed to the elements. Switches located in the interior of the vehicle are a different story; since they are not supposed to be in contact with water, they are not sealed from the elements. This makes them susceptible to liquids being spilled on them, especially if they are on the center console near the cup holders. Interior switches can also be exposed to water from something such as a leak, or a window being left open. When a liquid spills on a switch, the component will need to be inspected, and the switch will likely need to be replaced.

Most of the time, if a switch gets water on it, it will dry out over time and will end up working again. However, if water creates some corrosion inside of the switch, then it may not work anymore and may need to be replaced. If a liquid other than water gets into a switch, it will almost always need to be replaced, due to the residue that is left behind. In some rare cases, a switch may be taken apart and cleaned internally with electrical cleaner, but that does not always work, and many switches cannot be disassembled.

Should you run into a situation where you know that a liquid got into a switch, it is important to act quickly. The first thing you should do is try and refrain from using the switch as that can short out the circuit. If water got into the switch, give it a day or two to dry out. If it is something other than water, then you may need to have a certified mechanic, such as one from YourMechanic, inspect the component, and replace the switch, if necessary.

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