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Why would your turn signals and flashers fail on a Taurus or Sable?

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Why would your turn signals and flashers fail on a Taurus or Sable?
The three most likely causes seem to be the following:
  • Fuses
  • Flasher unit
  • Turn signal switch on the steering column


Here are some suggestions from our community on how to resolve the problem:

  • I had a similar problem. The fix is actually pretty easy. The car is almost 20 years old, has 200,000 miles on it. The connector for the lighting portion of the multi-function switch, is on the top of the TILT steering column. Every time you tilt the wheel down, you pull on this connector. The connector has two locking clips that hold it in place. After time, the connector becomes brittle, and the locking clips break off. That seems to be what happened to my friend's car, that she just purchased. The paint is pretty badly oxidized, which tells me the car was left in the sun a lot, which will speed up the aging of the plastic. One thing that might tip you off, is if you raise the wheel, the lights might start to work again. This is how I fixed it: Remove the battery cable, or you may drain the battery! Under the steering column, there are three Phillips head screws. Remove these, lower the steering column, and remove the tilt lever, Chilton's says you may need a small wrench to remove that lever. Remove the lower portion of the steering column cowl. Insert the ignition key, and turn to the running position. Since you have disconnected the battery cable, the car should not turn over. When you look at the bottom of the steering column, under the lock cylinder, you will see a round spot with a smaller circle in the middle. Use a small screwdriver or awl to depress the center spot. You should now be able to pull the lock cylinder out, and remove the top of the steering column cowl. On the very top of the steering column, you will see the connector to the multi-function switch. If the locking clips are broken, as they probably will be, as your car is now 20 years old, you have a problem. Pretty easy to fix. If you look carefully at the connector, you will notice there are two groups of wires, one on each side, with no wires in the middle of the connector. Pull the connector up, and get yourself some slack! Make certain that the steering column is at its lowest position, and that when you plug the connector in, it is not being pulled on. Then using a small drill, maybe 1/8 inch, carefully drill right next to the little nub that USED to hold the locking clip. Then put a 1" screw into the hole. That should hold it! Now reassemble the steering column. Watch for the "key in ignition sensor contact. The clip that holds that in place is very small. Mine was also broken. I put a little bit of silicone adhesive on it, pressed it back into place, and wrapped two wraps of electrician's tape around it, making sure that the tape was stuck onto itself. I know, this all sounds so tacky! But the car is 20 years old. You are going to need to get creative to keep it running!

  • Many vehicles have the hazard switch as a push-on push-off in the top center of the steering column. This is a good place to spray your WD-40 or similar cleaner as the contacts for this switch are often the problem, and being on the top side gravity will help the cleaner flow into the contact areas. Be careful if you use another product to be certain it doesn't contain alcohol or other solvent that can attack plastic. Such solvents introduced into any plastic switch component can destroy it rather than improve the functioning.

  • This works! I lost my turn signals and flashers this past weekend and stumbled on this WD40 solution. I have a 96 Taurus. I removed the steering column covers and sprayed in the switch and the hazard button area. I waited several minutes and tried but no luck. I reapplied until the WD40 was dripping quickly from the bottom of the switch. A real soaking. Then I agitated the turn switch for left and right and pushed the hazard button quickly up and down. Suddenly everything clicked in and worked. My guess is dirt and build up on the contacts is removed with the WD40. I also notice that my windshield wiper fluid now works with a slight touch. Previously I had to really push and push at it several times until a shot of wiper fluid would come out. This is a great solution! A new switch is about $120 and a flasher relay about $60. Thanks!

  • It may be your flasher, usually a round metal thing under the dash. check the bulbs If all four directional lights do not work, first check fuse, if fuse is good, your flasher is bad. If both your left and right turn signals (dash indicators & front/read lamps) do not come on, check Fuse, Flasher unit is good and plugged in and most importantly, the Hazard Flasher Switch (on some cars) may be unplugged or bad. If your turn signals and flashers don't work it could be your turn signal switch. The flasher lights and the blinkers both went out on my 97 Taurus. After checking the fuses (separate) and bulbs I looked online. I had found others saying that if your door ajar light and your inside light stays on to spray wd40 in the locks and the latch mechanism. Well I had this problem also so I tried it, and after years of not having an inside light this worked. I had previously removed the interior lamp relay because it wouldn't go out. I went back to address my original concern (blinkers and flashers) and I found that the most likely problem would be with the multi-function switch. While trying to get to the multi function switch in the steering column, I couldn't get the tilt steering lever off. I was getting very aggravated so I just sprayed the crap out of it wd40 (I had it there anyway) All I can say is that when they first started working they were intermittent and then fast flashing. I sprayed more wd40 and now the blinkers and the flashers work. Go figure.

  • My symptoms were very similar: the windshield washer fluid was hard to activate at first, then would not spray at all so I had the pump and electrical looked at but only a temporary fix, also the right turn signal was intermittent or double speed for a while and for 24 hours didn't work at all and then came back, and just today in very cold weather both turn signals and the hazards failed to turn on at all. Until I read this answer I hadn't put it all together, but when I sprayed the WD40 until dripping in the hazard button on top of the steering column and also into the base of the multifunction switch and into the joint between the windshield washer button at the end of the switch, working everything around vigorously and then letting it sit for 30 minutes, suddenly everything started working again. Turn signals, flashers, windshield fluid. Thanks everyone for this cheap and easy fix!

  • I have a 2004 Chevrolet Classic. The turn signals would not work - no lights on dash or even the clicking sound (from the flasher). All bulbs checked out O.K. The hazard lights worked fine. I replaced the multi-switch. Still did not work. I was ready to take to to the dealer to have them trace the wiring. As a last resort, I tried the WD-40 solution on the flasher switch - IT WORKED!!!! I was amazed. Fix Both Flashers with WD40 Squirt! WD40! No kidding!

  • Chances are the "multifunction switch" under the steering wheel has stuck open. Squirt WD40 generously under the Hazard warning light switch behind the steering wheel. Operate the switch on and off about a dozen times, then operate the turn-signal switch left and right about a dozen times. Add some more WD40 and let it sit a few minutes. Try again. It should begin to work. If not, replace the flasher for $10 at your local auto parts store ($40-50 at the Ford parts department). It's a blue plastic cube close under the dash to the left of the steering wheel. Just remove it from its bracket and push the new one in place. Voila, Viola!

  • You have probably figured it out by now, but it could be your multi-function switch located at the base of the turn signal, wiper, etc, stalk (lever). Also controls hazard lights. Not that hard to replace if necessary. Check out old switch with an olms meter. A Haynes guide book can help you. A new switch should cost less than $100. Just had the exact same problem on my 96 Crown Vic, plus I could flash the high beams, but not leave them on. Took off the turn signal stalk, opened it up at the base and all the copper contacts were corroded (by lube Ford uses at factory?) Cleaned them, and everything now works fine! Cost- zero!

  • For all these posts, whenever they mention WD40 being applied for electronics, while it may be ok to use WD40, you are probably safer using a lubricant made especially for electronic components. There are some plastics that WD40 is not good for and it can be overkill for places with electronic components and plastics in the same place. That said, I use a spray can lubricant I found in home depot called CRC Electrical Grade 2-26. I found it in the electrical department (house wiring etc). Just look for the one that says its safe for plastics and is made especially for electrical connections. I think it does the same thing as WD40 but without some of the corrosive effect on certain plastics. It also doesn't smell. I promise I do not own any stock in this company nor do I have a problem with WD40, I use it all the time for other applications.

  • Check that all parking and brake lights are working. Bad bulbs won't flash. Other possibles - blown fuse. flasher relay bad. switch kit inside steering column broke.

  • Your relay could be bad they are located underneath your dash on the driver side.

  • There is a device called a 'flasher' which is what actually makes the lights blink. It is usually in a very difficult place to locate, sometimes under the dashboard, sometimes in the engine compartment. If you own a car, it is worthwhile to purchase a maintenance manual for it. These can be found at most part stores, and run about 20 dollars. In it, you should find the exact location of the turn signal flasher unit.

  • Have it checked out. It could be the t/s switch Hazard (emergency) relay might need replacing. Our 97 sable has a problem with the emergency flasher switch on top of the steering column that also keeps the turn signals from flashing. Just pushing the button on and off many times has fixed it(temporarily and cheaply) twice over the last 5 years or so.

  • This happened to my '98 Mercury Sable. I had to replace the "Turn Signal Wiper Lever Switch." The part was about $75 and you can find it at some local auto parts stores (I got mine at a local NAPA). It took a bit of work to replace it, but it's not too hard.

  • I have the same problem in my 95 Ford Taurus. Checked the fuses and they were all okay. Next step was to find the flasher but after checking this problem out online, this is what I found. Most likely the problem is the multi-function switch. In the 95, it is located in the steering column. From others that have had this problem, I found you might get the switch working again by dismantling the switch and cleaning the contacts. You can also find one in a junkyard to replace the broken one but you'll have to remove it yourself to save any money.

  • Most likely it is your turn signal flasher,and it should be located close by the fuse panel. It will be round and looks like a short battery and it may be plastic or metal.

  • Check the flasher for your emergency flasher.There are two flasher units, one for turn and one for emergencies.

  • Most likely a bad turn signal flasher Could also be a bad switch in the steering column.

  • I would think the first thing to check would be the fuses. Your owners' manual should provide a fuse diagram, there is likely to be one on the fuse box cover.

  • Check for bad flasher (usually under dash) and also check for bad fuse in fuse block.

  • I took a suggestion from one of our farmers, I sprayed WD 40 on top and around the flasher which is located on top of the steering wheel column. I checked the flasher the next day and it worked beautifully.

  • Usually I just replace the multi-function switch, assuming it isn't a bad bulb. A bad bulb would be too obvious, though.
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Thanks for the feedback!

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