Q: What do I do if my car switches get dirty?

asked by on

What do I do if my car switches get dirty?

The switches in most modern vehicles do have electrical and mechanical parts behind them. This includes power windows, locks, mirrors, and even the radio or climate control. Like the keys on a keyboard, these devices are sensitive to dirt and moisture; anything from spilled food and beverages, to a dusty environment, can allow dirt to enter the vehicle and accumulate. Due to the conductive nature of water, or the abrasive nature of dirt and sand, these factors are dangerous for the electric controls throughout the vehicle and may cause a failure. It may be necessary to discontinue the use of any switch that seems to have been compromised.

First of all, one should avoid using a household spray-on cleaner or any type of solvent on vehicle controls; chances are, your interior switches are not waterproof, and spraying household cleaners into them can cause a shorted circuit. Furthermore, solvents can damage the finish, and even warp the plastic outer shell of a switch. Many local stores sell cans of compressed air, which can be used to force large pieces of dirt out of the tight corners and cracks of switches. Electrical contact cleaner is another product sold at many auto parts stores for cleaning the electrical contacts of the switch; this is also safe to use on the outer shell.

To clean switches, use an absorbent cloth or paper towel to wipe the area around the switch clean. Afterwards, use a can of compressed air to force out any stubborn particles. Do not use toothpicks or sharp metal tools to dig into the switches, as these may break off into the switch, or damage the switch itself.

Once the area is clean and the pieces of dirt have been removed, one can use a dry microfiber cloth to remove any remaining debris. Activate the switch to see if function has changed at all. Electrical contact cleaner may be required for especially dirty control switches in the event of spilled food or beverages. Take care not to flood the switch with any cleaner; use it sparingly until all debris has been removed.

If a switch function has failed, consult an expert mechanic to inspect the electrical system, and the switch itself, to see which component has failed. After the inspection, your mechanic will be able to estimate the cost of repair.

Was this answer helpful?
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
  1. Home
  2. Questions
  3. What do I do if my car switches get dirty?

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: What is Bounce-Back associated with the power windows?

Your car’s power windows are certainly handy, but they can pose dangers to anything that might be sticking out the window while it’s being rolled up, including cargo and even hands (little kids love to keep their hands out the...

Q: Can you put a Mazda ignition switch in a Honda

Hi there. Switching the ignition switch depends on the year of the vehicle. Older Honda's and Mazda's could swap out the ignition switch together, but the newer vehicles cannot as they are coded for each vehicle by VIN number. If...

Q: Q: Power windows not working.

The fact that all your windows are not working actually sort of narrows down possibilities. The power coming into your power window circuit is fused voltage, meaning it has a fuse to protect the wiring in case of a short...

Related articles

How Do Power Car Windows Increase Passenger Safety?
Power windows are responsible for approximately 2,000 emergency room visits every year. When a power window closes, it exerts enough force to bruise or break bones, crush fingers, or restrict an airway. Though...
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...
What are the Car Pool Rules in Hawaii?
Hawaii is widely regarded as a land of vacation and relaxation, and as such, its scenic roads and routes are far better known than the state’s freeways. But, as with all...