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Q: Can I Use a Universal Switch in My Car?

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Can I use a universal switch in my car?

A: This is an open ended question when determi...

This is an open ended question when determining what exactly a universal switch really is. Many switches whether factory or OEM (original equipment manufacturer) replacements are designed to meet or exceed the original specifications. Some factors to keep in mind would be the type of switch being considered and how it is connected or attached to the vehicle. There are many aftermarket switches which can be added to turn on non factory add ons, such as fog lights, light bars, additional horns etc. These SPST (single pole, single throw) switches can be a rocker style of an on/off position type.

Often the factor in selecting a switch comes down to the actual application and area it will be installed in when in use. A universal switch to turn on your headlights could work but may not fit into the dash location where the original switch was positioned and they also lack the complexity of the units used in modern cars and trucks.

Generally, these universal switches are used in specific to add on applications for older vehicles. You may need to modify your dash or mount location to accept the new switch. Another factor is the rating of the switch. All circuits are designed to handle the current (amperage) that the circuit will generally flow during it operation. Every part of the circuit is calculated into this equation to keep the component from overheating. So besides meeting the physical application, the switch needs to meet the electrical specifications.

Without knowing exactly what switch or circuit you would want to replace with a universal switch I can not advise you further on the use of a universal switch. I would add that it is the best practice to use the factory part or an approved OEM replacement that is designed to meet or exceed the original application. This will help you avoid operational issues and possible circuit damage. A headlight switch for example has multiple functions and is specific to the vehicle so replacement would require the factory style part. It has to operate the parking lights, headlight low, high beam circuit, as well as a flash to pass position. A lot of light systems are auto illumination.

You can see from the example of the different switches that they are not compatible. For example, other switches with specific types and functions would include the horn, turn signals, blower motor, power windows, neutral safety, and ignition switch. The best advice is to have the correct switch installed to insure that accurate factory performance is restored to your vehicle.

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