Things you can do if the switches in your car get wet

Article by Christian A., on September 20, 2018

Your car has a number of electrical components, including switches. Thanks to these switches, you can operate a number functions like lighting, air conditioner, heater, power windows, power door lock and a number of car accessories. Through their respective switches, these vehicle functions can be turned on or off, or even adjust their strength or intensity.

Regardless of the vehicle function they operate, all electrical switches – like every electrical component -- aren’t supposed to get in contact with water as they would get damaged. When switches gets wet, it could result to wiring shorts, shorted switches, blown fuses, fire, or corrosion on contacts and wiring.

Water isn't really what damage -- aside from rust or corrosion – electrical parts. Water itself is considered as one of the best insulators of electricity, which mean electrical current can’t travel through it. However, there are small particles that dissolved in water – called ions – that cause electricity to go to places where it is not supposed to go. This is what causes a short.

There are situations in which your car’s switches can get wet. For instance, you might have left the window a bit open while driving in the rain or snow. Or, you might be drinking water or holding some drinks, and accidentally, the liquid got into the switches and made them wet.

As soon as you notice that a switch in your car has become wet with water, remove the liquid as quickly as possible to prevent it to penetrate into the contacts. If a switch if left wet with water, the liquid may trickle down to the electrical parts inside and cause some problems.

Use a towel or microfiber cloth

Wipe the water off with a towel or microfiber cloth, until the switch is fully dry. When there is too much water for the towel or microfiber cloth to absorb, it is better to soak it up. If you move a very wet towel or cloth on the switch, the water may penetrate into it.

Wait for the switch to get dry

Wait for the switch to get dry before operating it. Don’t try to check if the switch is still operational while it is still wet. This may cause a short as the electrical components in the switch are still wet. You may even feel an electrical shock if you operate a wet switch.

Use compressed air

Use compressed air to blow the switch out. Blowing compressed air to remove the water from switch would make it dry quicker. This would allow you to decrease the waiting time for operating the switch again. Likewise, drying the water out as quickly as possible would lessen the risk of corrosion.

If other liquids aside from water – soda, juice, beer or wine – get into the switch, you may need to use an electrical contact cleaner after drying. This would clean the contaminant away and save your switch from further damage.

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