Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

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

asked by on

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.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Save up to 30%

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: The battery light came on on my 2012 dodge charger after it seemed to turn off while i was driving. The car turned off after i spe

This can happen when the charging system is having trouble maintaining a specific voltage which is what causes the battery light to come on. This can also happen when the voltage regulator is failing or weak. This regulates the charging...

Q: Turn signal lights keep failing, how can I fix this?

Your problem is electrical, and all of the components involving the the turn signals will need to be inspected. Unfortunately it takes some trial and error in testing to find the component that is failing. Considering the hazard button tends...

Q: Cannot shift into overdrive

On the SC300, when the shifter is in the 3-D position if the shifter is to the right, then the over shift function is enabled. Once the engine reaches a combination of speed and load the transmission will automatically shift...

Related articles

What Causes Hoses to Leak?
While the largest part of your engine is mechanical, hydraulics plays a significant role. You’ll find fluids at work in a number of different areas. Your car's fluids include: Engine oil Transmission...
How to Avoid Back Pain in a Car
If you have back problems, sitting in a car for an extended period of time can be excruciating. Even without back problems, you could experience discomfort and soreness from...
P2428 OBD-II Trouble Code: Exhaust Gas Temperature Too High Bank 1
P2428 code definition A P2428 trouble code signifies that the PCM has detected a problem in the exhaust gas temperature sensor circuit in bank 1, which subsequently contains the number one...