Turn Signal Switch Buyer's Guide
- A turn signal switch is a lever mechanism that activates a car’s turn signal lights, windshield wipers, fog lights, headlights, and even cruise control systems.
- It is also commonly called a blinker switch, turn signal lever, or turn signal arm.
- The movement of the turn signal lever determines which light circuits are completed, switching a specific set of lights on and off.
- Your car’s turn signal mechanism is your primary means of communication with other drivers on the road. Replacement of a faulty turn signal switch is important for road safety.
- OEM replacement parts will cost you anywhere between $20 and $800. Turn signal switches are typically sold individually or as part of a kit.
Can you imagine what driving would be like if turn signals were never invented? Back in the 50s, drivers completely relied on hand signals to keep vehicles from colliding on the road. Thankfully, innovation has spared us from the need to rest our elbow on the window and extend an arm out of the vehicle to signal a turn.
To better understand and appreciate how this mechanism works, let’s take a closer look at the turn signal switch and why it’s an important part of your car.
What Is a Turn Signal Switch?
A turn signal switch is a lever mechanism that controls your car’s blinkers. It is also commonly referred to as a blinker switch, turn signal lever or turn signal arm.
This component includes dials and other switches that activate other systems, such as your vehicle’s windshield wipers, fog lights, headlights, and even cruise control systems. The turn signal lever is typically attached to the inside of the steering column.
How Does a Turn Signal Switch Work?
As its name suggests, the turn signal switch is the component that activates your car’s turn signal lights. It is connected to the steering column which holds the circuitry that activates these lights. In some vehicles, the lever mechanism and internal switch are combined into a single component.
The turn signal circuit is powered as soon as you switch the ignition on. Power from your car’s battery flows to the fuse panel and into the thermal flasher which is connected to the turn signal lever.
To put it simply, the movement of the lever determines which light circuit is completed. Different sets of turn signal lights and dashboard indicators are switched on when you move the lever up and down. The same thing happens to other light and signal systems when the dial at the end of the lever is turned.
Canceling Turn Signals
Have you ever wondered how turn signals get canceled after making a turn? Most modern vehicles are fitted with a mechanism that automatically switches off the turn signal after a turn is completed.
Inside the steering shaft are four equally spaced notches. As the turn signal lever is moved up or down, a spring-loaded roller falls into one of the notches and holds it into place. At the same time, a plastic lever is pushed into a notch and lets each one pass as the steering wheel is turned.
As soon as the steering wheel spins the opposite direction, the plastic lever is pushed away and the spring-loaded roller is disengaged, allowing the lever to go back to its original position. This causes the circuit to be automatically switched off after a turn.
Why Is a Replacement Turn Signal Switch Important?
Your car’s turn signal mechanism is your primary means of communication with other drivers on the road. It gives other vehicles enough time to react before you make a turn or as you prepare to switch lanes. It is important to check for problems with your car’s signaling system to effectively communicate your movements on the road and avoid accidents.
Signs of a Failing Turn Signal Swith
You can tell if your car’s turn signal switch can be replaced if the lever doesn’t hold its place or doesn’t automatically switch back to its original position after a turn.
Another thing to watch out for is difficulty switching your blinkers on and off. If you’ve ruled out problems with the light assembly, chances are there may be damaged components within the turn signal circuitry.
As soon as you observe one or more of these signs, have your vehicle checked by a professional and consider getting a replacement turn signal switch.
How Much Is a Turn Signal Switch?
The turn signal switch replacement cost varies depending on your car’s year, model, and make. It can cost you anywhere between $20 and $800. Turn signal switches are typically sold individually or as part of a kit.
While it may be possible to install this part on your own, we recommend going to a trusted mechanic because replacement requires disconnecting the circuit from the battery and disabling your vehicle’s airbag system. Working with a trusted mechanic will ensure that your airbags are not accidentally deployed during repairs and all other components in the steering column are reconnected properly.
Avoid Safety Hazards: Replace Your Turn Signal Switch
The turn signal switch activates the signal lights at the rear and front of your vehicle. If the turn signal switch is not working, you might cause accidents and get traffic violation tickets. Fortunately, replacing a faulty turn signal switch is easy. This guide will teach you how you can do it at home.
Difficulty level: Moderate
- New turn signal switch
- Phillips screwdriver
- Ratchet and socket
Step 1. Open your car's hood after making sure that your car is parked in a secure place. Then, disconnect the negative or black battery cable.
Step 2. Remove the lower cover of the dashboard underneath the steering column. Do this with your Phillips screwdriver or ratchet and socket.
Step 3. Using your ratchet and socket, remove the knee bolster under the steering column.
Step 4. So you can remove the upper steering column cover, loosen the bolts attaching the steering column to the support bracket with your ratchet and socket. In some vehicles, the upper cover can be removed once the lower steering column is removed.
Step 5. Loosen the turn signal switch mounting screws with your Phillips screwdriver. Afterwards, unplug the electrical connector switch, and remove the switch from the vehicle. If there are no mounting screws, just pull the switch lever to remove it.
Step 6. Once the switch has been disconnected and removed, replace it with the new switch. Connect the wires and electrical connector in the same way the old switch was connected. If you pulled the switch lever to remove the switch, put it back.
Step 7. Attach the upper cover of the steering column once again, and secure the mounting bolts of the column bracket. Then, install the lower cover and knee bolster back underneath the steering column.
Step 8. Connect the black or negative battery cable, and test your new turn signal switch.