Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: How Do the Turn Signals Work on My Car?

asked by on

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.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Car will not turn over - 2011 GMC Acadia

A flashing Check Engine Light is commonly an indicator that you have non-burning raw fuel that is flowing into the exhaust system or triggering the O2 sensors to report this information. This is one reason why your engine is probably...

Q: I have to hold the turn signal lever down

It sounds like the turn signal lever assembly needs to be replaced. The mechanism for holding the lever and returning it are inside of it may not serviceable, however, a certified technician should be able to inspect your turn signal...

Q: How Does Underbody Lighting on Cars Work?

Underbody lighting on cars is an accessory that is most commonly installed by the vehicle owner or a specialty shop. The type of underbody lights used today are either LED or neon, and are available in a variety of colors....

Related articles

What Causes Hoses to Leak?
While the largest part of your engine is mechanical, hydraulics plays a significant role. You’ll find fluids at work in a number of different areas. Your car's fluids include: Engine oil Transmission...
P0052 OBD-II Trouble Code: HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1)
P0052 code definition HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1) What the...
P2428 OBD-II Trouble Code: Exhaust Gas Temperature Too High Bank 1
P2428 code definition A P2428 trouble code signifies that the PCM has detected a problem in the exhaust gas temperature sensor circuit in bank 1, which subsequently contains the number one...