How a Car Turn Signal Works

A requirement for all automakers is to equip each vehicle with proper, standard lighting. Every vehicle is equipped with several lighting systems including:

  • Headlights
  • Taillights and brake lights
  • Corner marker lights
  • Hazard or warning lights
  • Turn signal lights

Turn signal lights are important for the safe operation of your vehicle. They indicate your intentions to change lanes, turn a corner, or pull over to the roadside. While not everyone uses their turn signals as regularly as they should, their usage dramatically reduces the number of accidents and driver errors.

How Car Turn Signals Work

Turn signals require electrical power in order to illuminate the turn signal light bulbs. The circuit is protected by a fuse in the power junction block in case of an electrical fault. When the turn signal lever is activated in either direction, a circuit is completed that allows power to flow to the front and rear turn signal lights on the selected side.

When the signal lights are turned on, they are not illuminated constantly. They flash in a rhythmic pattern to draw the attention of other motorists and indicate your intention. This is achieved by routing the power to the turn signals through a flasher or module that sends pulses of power to the lights instead of a steady stream.

When you complete your turn and turn the steering wheel back to center, a cam on the steering column catches on the turn signal lever and cancels the turn signal operation. If the cancel cam on your steering column is broken or you only take a slight turn, the signals may not cancel on their own and you will need to turn the signals off by moving the signal lever on your own. Make sure to get your turn signal fixed as soon as possible.


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Shawn

23 years of experience
158 reviews
Shawn
23 years of experience
Jeep Grand Cherokee V8-5.7L - Turn signal light is not working - Hampton, Virginia
Shawn is an electrical expert with my highest recommendation for anyone with an early 2000’s and older molder Jeep who needs an electrician.

Brandon

5 years of experience
34 reviews
Brandon
5 years of experience
Hyundai Elantra L4-1.8L - Turn signal light is not working - Hermitage, Tennessee
Explained process from beginning to end and made recommendations for what's needed to repair my car.

Gustavo

17 years of experience
400 reviews
Gustavo
17 years of experience
Lincoln Aviator V8-4.6L - Turn signal light is not working - San Antonio, Texas
Gustavo was on time with his usual friendly demeaner & promptly service SUV repair. He explain the repair needed & corrected in short time.

Refugio

21 years of experience
106 reviews
Refugio
21 years of experience
Jeep Grand Cherokee L6-4.0L - Turn signal light is not working - San Antonio, Texas
Explained what was in need of repair . will fix it as soon as he has the replacement part so all is going fine !

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