DIY Front Blinkers

I had just arrived back in Norfolk after a long day away from home.  The moment I pushed the turn signal indicator lever down for a left turn, I heard “tickatickatickaticka….” The green left arrow in the instrument panel flashed at a very fast pace.  Normally I hear a “click-a-click-a-click-a….” and the arrow blinks about twice per second.  Instantly, I knew that a minor repair job was in the offing.

I’ve had this happen before and found out the seemingly very simple bulb replacement chore was much more difficult than one would think, by just looking at the blinker housing assembly part of the car.  There are millions of cars on the roads with turn signal assemblies very similar to the Camry’s.  In fact, there are millions of Toyota Camry’s of similar vintage to mine, so I planned today’s bluejayblog around those facts.

One purchase I highly recommend to auto or truck owners, is that of a shop manual. Purchase the book that applies to your specific car or truck.  It’s surprising how many routine small repairs are not included in the standard owner’s booklet that comes with the car.  Even if you’re not mechanically inclined, the shop manual gives you a good overview of everything about your car.  Then, if something goes wrong, you can more accurately describe the problem to your mechanic.   Buy the book when you first take delivery of your vehicle, then you’ll have it handy.

If you don’t have a shop manual handy, that’s OK for now.  I’ve replaced the front blinker bulb on the other side of my car a few years ago, so I know how to do it.  I also remember that I didn’t care for the design of the turn signal housing mounting.  Toyota Motor Company, if you’re reading this, please don’t make your front turn signals like this anymore! This is the weak link in your otherwise excellent product line.

To change the front blinker bulb, make sure you have a brand new bulb of the proper part number.  You can find them anywhere at auto parts stores, large department stores or a dealer that sells vehicles like yours.

Look inside your shop manual, or online, or retain this bluejayblog post for future reference.  Most online forums are useless for minor repairs, but you can try.  Good luck.  Find the description of the repair and follow the instructions as well as possible.

Now, open the hood of the car and find the plastic retaining clip that secures the blinker assembly.  Some cars have a sheet metal screw, hurray for those that do.  In this case, the instructions are not explicit enough.  The shop manual says to remove the plastic retainer snap.  Be very careful.  If you have a retainer removal tool handy, (ha, ha most of us don’t) pry the retainer off.  Otherwise, I used a regular flathead screwdriver to pry it away from the car body, then pulled it off with a pliers.  It may break regardless of what you use.  Save what you can for reassembly or have a spare clip to use later.

The manual says to swing the assembly outward from the car body.  Here again, not quite explicit enough.  There may be some plastic tabs and slots that are not anticipated.  You will need to carefully rock, push, pull, rock some more, pull some more towards the front of the vehicle, then carefully, and entirely remove the housing from the car.  Watch that you do not stretch or harm any wires that are attached. Be very careful that you do not scratch or scuff the paint on the vehicle fender or bumper cover. 

With the unit off the car, an inch or so away from the vehicle, twist the socket counter clockwise to remove it from the assembly.  Place the assembly somewhere safe.  Remove the old bulb from the socket, then place the new bulb in the socket.  You may wish to twist the bulb carefully back and forth inside the socket a few times to remove any corrosion on the socket leads.

Make certain to check that the bulb lights up properly before reassembly.  Turn on the blinker with headlights turned off.  Then, switch on the headlights and try it again.  The “parking light” function and the blinker function should be working.  Note: most headlights will not illuminate unless the engine is running.  With the car in neutral or park and the emergency brake applied switch on the engine for the bulb checking step.  Switch off the engine when finished watching the bulb.

If you’re satisfied that the bulb is OK.  Reassemble the turn signal assembly in reverse order of the above instructions.  Check that you have removed all the tools and the old bulb out from under the hood and the area around your car.  Close the hood and check the light again just to be sure.

Stand back.  Admire your handy repair job.


The Blue Jay of Happiness hopes this has illuminated your mind regarding simple auto maintenance.

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Gadgets, Transportation, Travel and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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