Knowing your Car: Switches, Fuses, and Connectors
February 28, 2014
As cars become more advanced technologically, so do the switches that come with them. In order for us to even begin to understand their concept, we must first be knowledgeable of the basics regarding car switches, the fuses that make them work properly, and the connectors that are used as blueprints by your local auto shop.
See where we’re going here? Great. Now sit back and ride along with me on this crash course on automotive education.
Stalks, or what we more often refer to as levers, are the protruding switches located at both sides of the steering wheel. Being from a left hand drive country, I am used to having the left stalk manage switches for the headlights, turn signal indicators and high beam flasher. The right lever, on the other hand, manages the windshield wipers and fluid. Of course, there are other functions that can be incorporated into these two levers depending on the type of vehicle you are driving.
Rotary Switches are those that come in a round form and usually function in a clockwise manner. Imagine a basic washing machine or fan. These appliances will come with circular dials that let you manipulate it’s speed. On many cars, you can manually adjust the air conditioning unit’s speed and temperature with a rotary type of switch.
Pushbuttons are switches that can be activated and deactivated by a simple push of a finger. This is the simplest type of switch you will ever find inside a vehicle. Take the hazard switch as an example; most cars allow you to activate it with a pushbutton switch.
Rocker Switches basically have two functions, usually in the form of up and down. Power windows use this kind of switch for convenience. It allows the driver and his passengers to easily open or close their respective windows with either an up or down motion.
A fuse’s main job is to protect wiring and the electricity that flows through it. Should there be an irregularity in the input or output of power, the fuse is there for protection against damage. A surge of electricity may draw enough power to blow the fuse; if there was no fuse, the device affected, say for example a car stereo, will be roasted in a split second.
There are usually two fuse panels, one in the engine and another in the dashboard compartment by the driver’s knees. The fuse panel in the engine compartment is responsible for devices such as the cooling fan, anti-lock braking systems, and the ECU (engine control unit). The dashboard fuse panel, on the other hand, is responsible for the devices and switches located in the dashboard compartment on the driver’s side.
Each car will have a different set of devices and systems, all of which will need access to a fuse. The fancier the car, the more electronics it will probably have – meaning the more safety it will require. By simply looking, it’s easy to tell if a fuse is blown and needs to be replaced.
Connectors are the key to every single modern vehicle out on the streets. They basically give efficiency and maintainability to numerous devices throughout the vehicle by providing a bridge from one part to another.
To be able to make a band of wires useful, a connector is needed. More often than not, these wires will someday need to be detached for maintenance or replacement. Without connectors, it may not be possible for a car to be serviced, or even built!
All of these car components rely on each other to give the driver and his passengers a worry-free trip from point A to B. So let’s not take for granted how important these three are and take pride in the fact that we are now more knowledgeable about them. Happy Driving!