How to Guides

Turn Signal Light Bulb

Zaki Moulvi posted this on Jun 16, 2014

All of the light bulbs that are used in exterior automotive applications must be durable to endure extreme changes in temperature, intense vibrations and exposure to the elements.  This is to ensure that your vehicle is always visible to other drivers.

What are Turn Signal Lights?

Turn signal lights have a slew of aliases, including directional indicators, directional signals, blinkers, and flashers.   These are the blinking lamps located on the four corners of your vehicle that blink to indicate your intent to turn or change lanes.  Activated by a lever on the steering wheel, the turn signal lights will often emit a sound in unison with their flashing.  This sound will increase in speed when one of the turn signal light bulbs is not working to alert the driver to the problem.

A popular trend in turn signal lighting is sequential lighting, where a series of lights are illuminated one after the other as the turn signal is engaged.  You will see this on some modern luxury and sports cars.

Other car manufacturers have begun to add more turn signals to their lines, including putting them on the outer edge of the side view mirror.  This better alerts drivers behind you to your intent to switch lanes.

The use of turn signals on cars dates back to 1907, but no patent for their design exists until 1938.  Today their use is required by law and a driver could be ticketed if he fails to use it or his turn signal light bulb has burned out.  For your front turn signal lights, they may be amber colored, while in back they could be amber or red.

The Turn Signal Light Bulb

During the early years of automotive production, all exterior lighting was dependent on the incandescent light bulb to function.  These were not durable and required frequent replacement.  Harsh weather and wind would cause them to stop working.  Cadillac was the first producer of better weather resistant lighting options for automobiles.  Today, you have a choice of the type of bulb you use for your turn signal lights.

Different Types of Automotive Light Bulbs

  • Halogen:  First introduced in 1962, the halogen light bulb uses the same technology as incandescent lighting, except they install a metal back drop to direct the light in a specific direction.  This creates a more efficient lighting system.   This type of bulb is still being used by many auto manufacturers.
  • HID:  Also known as xenon lighting, high intensity discharge lighting is more advantageous than incandescent lighting.  It is much brighter and will last longer.  BMW was the first to incorporate this type of bulb into their line in 1991.
  • LED:  Light emitting diodes are extremely long lasting and luminous.  They have also gained popularity over the last few years in automotive lighting and can now be found as standard for many luxury car lines. 

Choosing the Right Bulb For Your Turn Signal Light

To start with, you should check the owner’s manual for the exact size and voltage required by your car.  All vehicular light bulbs come in an array of styles and sizes.  An upgrade to Xenon or LED light bulbs may be available for your vehicle, but if your system has the rear parking lamps incorporated into the turn signal, then you will want to make sure that the bulb for your turn signal is brighter than the one for your parking light.

How to Change the Turn Signal Light Bulb

Depending on your vehicle, you may be able to access the turn signal light bulb by removing its lens cover.  Otherwise access will be gained through the engine bay or trunk.  Consult your owner’s manual if you cannot find where to access the turn signal lighting assembly.  Once you have found the assembly and exposed the turn signal light bulb, removing it requires a slight counter clockwise turn.  Once it is out, you can install the new bulb and then replace the turn signal assembly.    

How to Change the Turn Signal Light Bulb

Depending on your vehicle, you may be able to access the turn signal light bulb by removing its lens cover.  Otherwise access will be gained through the engine bay or trunk.  Consult your owner’s manual if you cannot find where to access the turn signal lighting assembly.  Once you have found the assembly and exposed the turn signal light bulb, removing it requires a slight counter clockwise turn.  Once it is out, you can install the new bulb and then replace the turn signal assembly.    

Categories: Autowiki Car Systems