The Ultimate Guide to Buying Car Switches on eBay

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The Ultimate Guide to Buying Car Switches on eBay

The switches found in any given car depend on make and model and whether the vehicle has been modified or not. The tendency among modern cars is a clean and simple design with less clutter. This is often achieved by consolidating multiple functions into a single switch. This is not necessarily important but may enhance the style of a particular vehicle. Car switches perform a wide variety of functions, from essential and operational to optional extras for convenience more than anything else.

Although not commonly thought of as a major part of car restoration or enhancement work, new switches may be necessary in the event of a malfunction. Some people may also wish to incorporate new switches into their car upgrade program. Switches can be purchased from the manufacturer or as aftermarket additions. They may either be essential for operating important functions or frivolous for the simple amusement of driver and passengers. Car switch buyers should understand the type of switch they need to purchase in order to best serve their intended purpose, and how to spot the difference between various switches and their functionality.

Car Switches and their Function

Car switches may be located in several different places throughout the car. Typically, most are on the dash and steering column; others may be found on the doors, gear or auto transmission area, or attached to the ceiling of the car. Switches found in these different locations serve their own purposes, which are generally related to the control of the engine, battery, lights, air conditioning and heater, windows, or heat screen.

Besides the original equipment on any given car, some may have modifications made to their vehicle and therefore require additional switches to control the extra devices. They are usually to add features or enhance the performance of the vehicle. The appropriate switch to buy for each purpose depends on the device type, power source, voltage, and ease of use. Switch types may be toggle, rocker, push-button, or even dials. Any manual device that opens and closes an electrical circuit in order to engage or disengage a function constitutes a switch.

Ignition Switch

Fundamental to the performance of any car is the switch that starts it. Although switched on with a key, the ignition switch is the basis for all other car switches to operate. In most internal combustion engine cars, once the key is turned to the ancillary position, operations such as the stereo, lights, windscreen wipers, defogging device, electric windows, and steering lock become functional. Other operations, however, are limited to having the motor running, such as the heater and air conditioner which needs a running engine to heat and cool the air. Operating electronic devices inside the car with the motor turned off shortens the life of the battery, as the running motor is what keeps it charged.

The ignition switch connects directly to the car battery, which transfers current to the starter solenoid. This starter switch is unique to other switches in the car, not only because it is invisible from the outside but also because its function involves several phases to achieve the final outcome.

Kill Switch

Some cars are fitted with a kill switch to more safely deal with emergency situations in the event that regular functions fail. The switch instantly cuts off any current between the battery and engine and so is also known as a battery isolator. It is useful in unlikely scenarios, such as a jammed accelerator or an engine that refuses to switch off because of a jammed or broken key in the ignition. As an emergency only switch, it is often larger than other switches and coloured red so it is easier to locate in times of high stress. The kill switch has only one purpose: to stop the car.

Typical Locations for Car Switches

The various types of car switches are found in specific parts of the car. This is partly for ergonomic reasons like the rocker and occasionally, the slide switch, found on car doors. The following outlines the usual places where particular switches are located in most cars.

Steering Column

Switches on the steering column are linked more directly to the mechanical performance of the car. Some of these switches are located on stalks, such as indicators and windscreen wipers, and may be dial switches, such as the headlights on many models. The horn on some vehicles functions with a push button on the stalk or a push pad in the steering wheel.

Another switch most commonly found on the steering column engages the cruise control, although this may be a secondary switch, with the cruise function itself located on the dash. Some modern vehicles are manufactured with stereo controls on the steering column in the form of switches or buttons. This is for safety purposes.


The various switches on the dashboard represent several different operations. The number of functions depends on car make and model, particularly whether it is a standard or luxury car. Some examples of switches that are typically placed on the dash are switches that control heating and cooling, rear window heat screen, and hazard lights, among others.

Car stereo head units fit into the DIN compartment of the dashboard, but its switch controls are considered separate. The types of switches found on a dashboard are typically any of the main switch types, such as rocker, toggle or push button. Some very old cars have pull button switches, which are rare today. Many late model vehicles have standard manufactured Bluetooth controls that reduce the need for as many switches on the dash.

Gearbox or Transmission

Switches found close to the gearing or auto transmission region commonly pertain to various driving options, such as the use of turbo power or sport mode in some vehicles. In many cars, another control switch typically located here is an option for extra traction in conditions such as rain, snow, or ice. These switches are normally subjected to less use than most of the others and may never need replacing. They are usually push buttons.


Switches on door panels and armrests generally operate safety and central locking, windows, and in many models, external rear vision mirrors. These switches are nearly always slide or rocker switches.


In many cars there are lights at both the front and rear of the ceiling, which are normally operated by an attached switch. Ceiling switch lights are at complete variance to the switches that operate other lights in the car, and are usually slide or rocker switches. Toggle switches are common in old cars.

Examples of Car Switch Types

eBay lists many commonly used car switches. The below chart points out some easily obtainable switches, their style, and typical location in the car.



Headlights, Driving lights, Fog lights

Dial on stalk, rocker, or push button on dashboard

Hazard Lights

Push button or rocker on dashboard

Dimmer Control

Stalk operated or push button on steering column


Stalk operated on steering column

Windscreen Wipers

Stalk or dial attached to stalk on steering column


Push button on stalk or centre of steering wheel

Heater and Air conditioning unit

Push button or dial

Rear Window Defog

Push button, rocker, or toggle

Door and Windows

Rocker or slide on door panels

Traction and Drive Modes

Push button on gear or auto transmission unit

Interior Lights

Rocker or push button on ceiling or dashboard

Boot and Engine Lights

Normally automatic upon opening

The types of switches listed above for each type of application may not necessarily reflect the make and model of every car, particularly late model or luxury cars. They are, however, representative of a high percentage of ordinary cars.

How to Buy Car Switches on eBay

When you know the type and name of the switch you need for your car, a simple keyword search, such as, car rocker switch may locate the exact item for you. On the other hand, it is usually better to use the filters and find the switch according to make and model of car. Upon finding your item, read all necessary information pertaining to its specifications and the fine print associated with terms of sale and the seller's returns policy. If you have questions about the item that are not answered on the listing page, email the seller with your query.

The majority of eBay sellers are professionals who know their customer satisfaction is essential for their continued success on eBay. They are, therefore, unlikely to be dishonest with customers. Nevertheless, it is a good idea to find out about your designated seller's reputation, if the information they have listed seems suspect. This can be done by checking their seller rating and reading customer feedback. Lastly, car switches are small and light items, so postage and handling costs add little to the sale price. Select whichever postal method is the most convenient.


Whether replacing some old switches that are worn out or customising controls as part of a general overhaul, the selection of car switches on eBay is diverse and extensive. The various switches in a car may never give trouble or need replacing or updating, but if they do, it is good to know that it need not be a major expense. The right switches can add a special touch to the car's many controls and even make their operation easier and more comfortable. A set of new switches, just like a pair of seat covers, can also give the car an individual flair and set it apart from family models. This is true at least with compatible aftermarket products.

Sourcing new car switches online is easier, quicker, and more convenient than searching through brick and mortar stores one at a time. The breadth of choice on eBay, its lower prices, prompt service and generally trusted and efficient handling of transactions makes it the preferred online market for millions.

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