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What Happens if Your Turn Signals and Hazards Are Not Working?

What Happens if Your Turn Signals and Hazards Are Not Working

Few things can be more frustrating than realizing your turn signals and hazard lights aren't working properly. One of the worst parts of this popping up in your vehicle is that you often don't learn about it until you see the flashing lights of the police behind you pulling you over to give you a ticket for them not working properly. Though it is different from one jurisdiction to another, if you get ticketed for failing to use a signal when you turn you might end up paying anywhere from $80 to $150. That's definitely money that you don't want to lose, and then when you factor in that you still need to pay to get your turn signal fixed and can be even more annoying.

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What Can Cause Your Turn Signal and Hazard Lights to Stop Working?


It can be hard to narrow down the exact cause of your turn signals and hazards not working. The wiring is shared among other systems in your vehicle and could have connections to parking, your brake lights, and other warning systems. In general, you're looking at things like burnt out bulbs, faulty wiring, bad connectors, burnt fuses, problematic flasher units, and even switches going wrong. In order to figure out the precise cause of the problems with your turn signals and Hazards you may want to invest in a digital multimeter and a test light to make sure you can track down the problem  If you're interested in solving the problem on your own.


Bad Turn Signal Switch


The turn signal switch is what controls your turn signal when you click the knob to either turn right or turn left. If the switch isn't working, it's not going to send the correct signal to power the ball to blink accordingly. There may be a mechanical problem or a wiring problem. If there is a mechanical issue it will likely be a clock spring problem.


If you need a new turn signal switch for your car the average repair cost is going to be anywhere from $250 to $350. The part itself if you head to AutoZone could set you back anywhere from $85 to $250 depending on the make, model, and year of your vehicle.




The socket that the blinker bulb is in can go rusty over time.  it's as prone to corrosion as any other part of your car may be. When the socket gets corroded, it can weaken or break the circuit and cause the blinker to not function correctly any longer.


The cost of replacing a turn signal socket in your car can be as cheap as about $5 with prices ranging up to $30 and more. I was with every other part, this definitely depends on the make, model, and year of your vehicle.


Burnt-Out Fuse


The electronics in your car run on fuses not unlike the electrical system in your house. If something calls it to short out and too much electricity flows through the line, then a fuse will burn out to protect the devices connected to it from being damaged by the increased flow of electricity. If a fuse is doing its job correctly it will get burnt out to save the rest of your car's electronics. Replacing a fuse is generally a simple process that shouldn't cost much money or take a lot of time. New fuses for your car typically cost around $10 to $20.


Dead Light Bulb


Much like your lights at home, every once in a while, a bulb simply burns out. No light bulb can last forever, so after extended use it's entirely possible that one of your blinkers just burned out. For the most part, this is one of the more common issues that you'll experience with blinkers and hazard lights. It's also one of the easiest ones to check. All you need to do is swap a bulb for a new one and if anyone works, then you know the problem was with the old one. Your blinker lights have a life span of several years but there are no guarantees. 


The cost of replacing a bulb for your vehicle it's a little more expensive than a home light bulb. The average dealer price for a lot of these bulbs is about $90 to $120. Again, this very much depends on the make, model, and year of your vehicle. Some vehicles have more expensive bulbs and others so it's best to check AutoZone or similar sites to find out which one fits your car and how much it'll cost. 


Flasher Relay


The blinkers in your car operated through something called a flasher relay. The flasher relay, sometimes called a flasher, is an electrical component that acts as a switch. This is what allows the lights to flash on and off rather than staying on constantly or being off constantly. A current is applied to the relay and allows the circuit inside to cut in and out which makes the clicking sound that you're used to when your signals are flashing. It should cost you about $100 to $125 to get your flasher relay replaced if that's the problem that you're having in your vehicle. You can buy a relay from AutoZone for as little as $7 with prices going up to about $70.


Signs and Symptoms of Bad Turn Signals and Hazard Lights


As we’ve said, your turn signals are controlled by something called a flashing or relay. It's an electrical switch that makes the lights flash on and off. This isn't a generic part, and you'll have to find the exact one for the make, model, and year of your vehicle if you're looking to replace it on your own. There are a number of ways that you can have these lights go wrong in your vehicle, and it often depends on the nature of the problem that's causing it in the first place.


No Lights are Working


If you have a serious problem in your electrical system you'll find that not only are the hazards and turn signals not working, but you may have other lights that have no function as well, such as your headlights, the brake lights, running lights and more. This is because some cars run the wiring through other lights which causes them all to short on at the same time. 


Signals and Hazards Don't Work at All


More often than not when you're experiencing a problem with your turn signals or hazard lights it's because they're not functioning at all. There are several causes for this range from the light bulbs burning out to some kind of internal wiring issues that have malfunctioned.


Signals and Hazards Won’t Turn Off


This is a symptom of a faulty flasher relay which prevents the lights from turning off. Generally, a short in the line causes your hazards and signal lights to stay on all the time instead of flashing the way they’re supposed to. So the light does turn on, but it won't flash to signal that you're actually trying to turn one direction or the other, or that you have some kind of emergency that necessitated the hazard lights being turned on. There are several electrical issues that could lead to this problem as well.


The Cost of Fixing Your Turn Signals and Hazard Lights


The cost of getting your turn signal and hazard lights repaired can vary greatly for a number of different reasons. First and foremost, there are several different causes for your lights to malfunction, so it really depends on which problem it was that led to it happening.


If it's a simple matter of replacing a bulb in your turn signal, you can expect to pay anywhere from about $115 to $150 to get this repaired. That's for your average vehicle to get a light bulb replaced. If you have a higher in vehicle like a BMW M3, you could end up paying as much as $325 just to get a new bulb and put in.


When it comes to getting your hazard lights repaired, you could be looking at anywhere from $270 to $400 to get them fixed depending on the make, model, and year of your vehicle and where you go to get the repairs. 


Can I Repair My Own Turn Signals and Hazard Lights?


There's no car repair job that you can't do on your own if you are prepared and aware of how to get it done. The problem with being able to determine if you can handle a particular repair of your turn signal and hazard lights when they've gone wrong is, as we've seen, this is just one single issue. If your timing belt fails, then you know it's the timing belt that needs to be repaired. But as we've seen in our list above there are a number of different reasons and causes for your signal to not work.


You'll need to troubleshoot the issue to determine the exact cause of your turn signals or hazard lights not working before you can set about deciding exactly how to repair it and whether or not it's something you're able to do on your own. That extra step can make it a bit more of a daunting task for some drivers who might be interested in do it yourself car repairs. For the most part, nothing we've listed would be too difficult to handle on your own if you knew from the get-go that it was a problem in your car. However, determining the exact nature of an electrical problem can be more difficult than it seems at first.


Figuring out if your light bulb is burnt-out is easy enough, but if there's a problem with something like your hazard relay, or an internal wiring issue in the turn signal switch that it may be harder for you to figure out exactly what you need to do with your vehicle. With that in mind, it may be best to head to a mechanic to get them to properly diagnose the problem for you so that it's a little easier to wrap your head around what needs to be done.


That said, if you are committed to trying this on your own there are definitely some guides on the internet that you can use to help walk you through the process. Videos like this one will not just explain how to repair a problem, but how you can diagnose which particular issue it is that you are facing so that it makes it easier for you to get the job done on your own.


The Bottom Line


Your turn signals and hazard lights are not integral for the operation of your vehicle. In fact, many drivers will operate their car for quite a long period of time without actually realizing that there is a problem with either one of these lights. Since you're not able to see what's going on when you're driving the car, unless someone lets you know there's a problem it's very rare that you could figure this out on your own. There's no reason for these lights to be operating when you're not behind the wheel, unless somebody else drives your car on a regular basis. That makes this a difficult one to keep track of sometimes.


That's also what makes your turn signals and hazard lights such a tricky issue. Not only is it illegal to not have operational turn signals on your vehicle, there is an abundance of evidence that shows improper signal use leads to an extensive number of accidents on the road. In fact, several million accidents a year are attributed to problems with improper signals. For that reason alone, it's in your best interest to make sure your lights are working properly.


One thing to keep in mind is that, every few months or so you can do a quick visual inspection of your vehicle. This is the same kind of thing that happens when you have to do a driver's road test.  the tester will do a walk-around of your car and instruct you to activate your turn signals and hazard lights just to make sure they're working. You can do the same thing to make sure that everything is in good working order every once in a while, and if it's not then you know you need to get it fixed. You'll save yourself the cost of a ticket, since you'll still need to get the vehicle fixed afterwards anyway.

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