How do the turn signals work on my car?
The turn signals are sets of lights that use a flasher or timer element to cycle the correct set of lights for both the front and rear of the car, to signal other drivers when you are turning or changing lanes. There is a main switch integrated into your steering column which allows you to select either the right or left turn signal and has a built in or additional switch for the four way safety flashers.
When the switch is moved to the correct right or left position, the circuit is completed to allow a control, either the manual flasher or computer circuit, to make and break contact to that set of lights. The components of the circuit would include a fuse, switch, wiring, lights, and ground. This is known as a complete circuit.
Some vehicles have side marker lights which will also be activated or lights in the side-view mirrors. These lights are intended to inform other drivers of your intent to an upcoming turn or a change of lanes. When activated, they will be cancelled or shut off by a physical assembly in the steering column know as a cancel switch.
Vehicles today also come equipped with a monitor system that will chime in to inform the driver if they have forgotten to cancel the turn signal or if they’re riding for an excessive time with a signal on. Another feature that is common is the ability to slightly push the signal handle either to the right or left, and have it cycle three or so times to indicate a lane change as opposed to a full turn. The lights generally cycle faster when a bulb has burned out and some models may even have a waring monitor that will display when a light is out.
Proper signals improve road safety by allowing everyone to know your intended turns or lane moves, giving time to brake or leave proper space for safe travel.
Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.
Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Save up to 30%