Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Hazard / Turn Signal Flasher

Hazards of the road

You’re driving on local roads and highways on your daily commute. Suddenly, sheets of rain pour down, making what once seemed fine driving weather into an actual hazard. You see in front of you that drivers are turning on their hazard lights, but should you do the same? Read on to learn when you should (and shouldn’t) use your hazard lights. Before you hit the road, brush up on the things you should never do to your car and the weird car features you didn’t know you might have.

Slow Driving

Most state laws allow the driver of a truck, bus, or tractor-trailer to use hazard lights when going of a steep hill or under other conditions when the vehicle cannot keep up with the flow of traffic. The driver of a car may not have the same privilege.

Impeding traffic by driving too slow is generally against the law in all states. If you, for some reason other than an emergency, must drive slower than the flow of traffic, you should find another route with a lower speed limit. Your emergency lamps are never an excuse for dangerous or illegal driving.

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When Your Vehicle Breaks Down

If your vehicle breaks down and you must stop in a hazardous or dangerous location where your vehicle may affect other traffic, you should always turn on your emergency flashers. If you are able to move your vehicle and stop on the shoulder of a highway, you should also use your emergency flashers. This will warn other drivers and give them time to slow down and move over to another lane, if possible.

2. Turn signals or hazards stay on

Another symptom of a faulty flasher relay is hazards or turn signal lights that stay on. If the flasher has any sort of internal short it may cause the hazards or signals to stay on when they are activated, instead of flashing. While they may still light up, the lights will not be able to serve their intended purpose of signaling a turn or emergency situation. These same symptoms can also be caused by electrical issues, so having the vehicle properly diagnosed is highly recommended.

Consider using your car’s hazard lights when:

  • Getting pulled over. If law enforcement signals you to pull over, turning on your hazard lights can show the officer that you acknowledge their signal and are following the request. Slow down, turn on your hazard lights, and stop your car in a safe location.
  • Changing a tire on the side of the road. Use your hazard lights when your vehicle becomes a potential hazard for other road users. If you’re parked on the side of the road changing a tire, it’s generally okay to have your hazards on.
  • Your car has broken down and you’re waiting for a tow. Your car has become a temporary hazard and you’re waiting for assistance. Warn other drivers of your presence, especially if you are not able to move your car out of traffic.
  • Driving in a funeral procession. Funeral processions are an exception to most hazard light guidelines. It’s customary for vehicles in a funeral procession to drive with their hazard lights on, even when it is otherwise prohibited by law.

When should you not use hazard lights?

There are certain situations where you shouldn’t use your hazard lights (even if you see others using them). Think twice before using them in these situations.

Illegal parking

David Clark, a lawyer and partner at The Clark Law Office in Michigan, says you shouldn’t use your hazard lights if you’re parking illegally, or use your hazard lights to get a parking spot. Need to run into the store real quick? Park your car in a designated space—don’t park illegally and flip on your hazard lights to signal you’ll be back shortly.

Driving in bad weather

Bad weather isn’t an excuse to use your hazard lights. “If the weather you are experiencing is so bad that you feel the need to turn on your flashers due to low visibility, you should pull over to a safe place with the hazard lights on to warn other drivers that you are sitting there. Once conditions clear, resume your travel,” John Burkhauser, an auto repair specialist and director of educational programs at Bolt On Technology, recommends. “Realize that in bad weather it is hard enough to see you, but now with no turn signals, other drivers also don’t know where you may be going to.” Here are a few more safe driving tips for scary driving situations.

Slowing down to exit the highway

If you’re having car trouble and need to exit the highway, it’s best to reconsider using your hazard lights as you’re exiting. Peterson says that can make it tough for other drivers to know where you’re going since, typically, turn signals are turned off when your hazard lights are on.

Next Step

Schedule Vehicle Body Electrical and Lighting Inspection

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