Q: What are toggle switches and how are they used in cars?

asked by on November 17, 2015

What are toggle switches and how are they used in cars?

Toggle switches are a simple type of electrical switch that is manually operated by the user using a short handle or lever. When the user presses the short handle forward or backwards the switch is moved between positions. When the switch is moved into the on position, electrical contacts inside of the switch touch together, allowing the circuit to complete and power to flow. Due to their simple mechanical nature, they are ideal for use for high current circuits, such as lights or electric motors.

The most common type of toggle switches function as regular on/off switches. These basic toggle switches have only two positions, and are flicked forward to turn the switch on, and backwards to turn it off. They are usually labeled on and off according to which way the switch needs to be flipped in order to be activated. Simple toggle switches like these are usually used to operate heated seat switches, on/off switches for fog lights and off-road lights, and power supply switches for winches and other car accessory functions.

While the most basic toggles switches have only two positions, there are also toggle switches that have three positions. These types of toggle switches are used to operate slightly more sophisticated circuits. Toggle switches will usually have a forward, backward, and center position. Usually the forward position will serve to operate one function, while the backward serves to operate another, and the center serves as the off position.

While toggle switches are used for many applications, they are usually not used as original equipment switches by most manufacturers and are often installed aftermarket. They are most commonly found as either a control for small accessories such as heated seats, or as part of aftermarket accessory kits where medium to high current circuits are installed, such as for fog lights, off-road driving lights, or winches. While they are not normally an original equipment component, they still function the same as any regular electrical switch, which means they should be promptly replaced when they begin to show signs of failure.

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