What Do the Direction Indicator Warning Lights Mean? | YourMechanic Advice

What Do the Direction Indicator Warning Lights Mean?

Everyone who has been in a car knows the distinctive sound of turn signals. That sound is the result of heat bending a small piece of metal back and forth. Inside the turn signal flasher is an electrical connection that is not connected when the turn signal is not being used. One side of the connection is the turn signal bulb and the other is electrical power.

When a turn signal is switched on, electricity is sent through a wire wrapped around a small piece of steel. The electricity heats up the metal which bends and expands, linking the electrical connection and illuminating the turn bulb. Since the power is going through the connection and not the wrapped wire, the metal cools down again and bends back, disconnecting the power and switching off the turn signal bulb. This cycle is repeated each time you use your turn signal and constantly heats and cools the steel connection strip.

These days, auto manufacturers use computers to control turn signals instead of mechanical flasher units that can fail over time. Even these modern cars still use traditional sounding clickers and indicator lights on your dashboard to indicate when your turn signal is active.

What the direction indicator lights mean

The left and right flashing arrows on your dashboard are only used to show when the turn signal is active. When you switch on your hazard lights, both the turn signal arrows will flash. When the indicator flashes quicker than normal, check all of the bulbs as one has likely burnt out. The quicker flashing is caused by a change in the overall resistance in the circuit when one of the bulbs goes out. Switch out the bulb and everything should return to normal. If the bulbs haven’t burned out and the turn signal arrows are still flashing, have the rest of the circuit inspected, namely the relay and turn signal flasher.

Is it safe to drive with the direction indicator lights on?

You should always use your turn signals when driving. They inform everyone around you of your intended driving actions so they aren’t surprised if you start to merge into their lane. Always make sure that you turn off your turn signals if the steering wheel doesn’t automatically do it for you. Change out any bulbs that burn out so your turn signals stay in good working order.

If your turn signals aren’t working properly, our certified technicians are always available to assist you in diagnosing any problems.


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Pardeep

20 years of experience
741 reviews
Pardeep
20 years of experience
Toyota 4Runner - Turn signal light is not working - San Jose, California
Pardeep arrived on-time, was friendly and clear about how he would tackle my lighting problem with my SUV. Huge shoutout to how candid he was with what he saw was wrong and clearly describing his thoughts on how to fix the lighting problem. Too many times in the past with other mechanics, I feel they didn't take any time to explain in understandable terms what they are going to do and how they are going to fix it. In the time he was here, I greatly appreciated his clarity around what was covered within the service he was schedule for and what may not be. This allowed me to have options around what I could pay to fix. At the end of the service, I agreed to the additional work and he was able to completely fix my lighting issue. His clarity and professionalism really gave me the confidence that he wasn't wasting my time. I plan on booking him again if I have any other issues with my SUV.

Roberto

11 years of experience
137 reviews
Roberto
11 years of experience
Ford Explorer - Turn signal light is not working - Humble, Texas
Excellent and Perfection. Roberto is truly a inspiration. I always recommend Roberto to others when I find out people are having issues with their vehicle. Your Mechanic is definitely #1. I trust only Your Mechanic. The BEST hospitality in the comfort of your Home.

Reginald

36 years of experience
52 reviews
Reginald
36 years of experience
BMW 325i - Turn signal light is not working - Los Angeles, California
Reginald was incredibly helpful in helping me to diagnose several issues in my car, as well as repair issues to help me pass a break and light test. He even went so far as to come to the brake and light testing location so that he could ensure that the car passed and be there if anything else needed to be fixed on the spot. Absolutely would recommend him to anyone who is looking for an honest and knowledgeable mechanic!

Julio

13 years of experience
19 reviews
Julio
13 years of experience
Ford Focus - Turn signal light is not working - Chandler, Arizona
Julio did a great job with diagnosing my rear signals and brake lights problem. He was very personable and easy to work with and explained things thoroughly and gave me options. He also advised me of other maintenance needs and prioritized them without trying to push me to fix things that weren't urgent problems. He ruled out the fuses or switches being issue and correctly identified the problem as coming from the bulbs (I didn't realize the bulbs could be multi-function so had not checked those). I highly recommend Julio Pereyda.

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