Join the Car Talk Community!

Discussion Rules

Welcome to the Car Talk Community!

Want to ask a question or join the discussion? Great! Join now.

Sign In Register

blinker continues clicking when turn signals are off

A friend has a Toyota Camry 1998.



All 4 turn indicaters, examined from outside, blink correctly when the hazard button is depressed/released and when the turn indicator is positioned left/right/off.



The problem is that a clicking (high speed) is heard when the hazard indicator is released and the turn indicator is positioned off. The clicking sounds like it originates about 10cm behind the dash cover in front of the driver and about 20cm below the bottom of the instrument cluster. The location is presumed to be that of the thermal oscillator.



The clicking ceases sometimes when brakes are applied. The clicking can also be made to cease (only to resume again a few dozen seconds later) when the area near the location of the sound is jiggled with a hand stuck up under the dash. Jiggling the turn indicator has no effect. Until a replacement owner's manual is acquired, the car's owner does not know how to replace the thermal oscillator.



Without a wiring diagram, I have been unable to imagine a failure that would account for the symptoms. I assume clicking from the thermal oscillator indicates current flowing, but all 4 signal lights extinguished means no current is flowing. My understanding of standard automotive design implies that a short (rather than an open) is highly improbable, especially without blowing a fuse, or entirely disabling the signal lights.



Has anyone else seen this problem?



Is there a known fix?



Can anyone explain what might be happening?

Comments

  • edited June 2010
    From looking at a "typical" wiring diagram for the Camry, it looks like the problem could be any of the flasher unit, the hazard switch, or the turn indicators -- but most likely, I would think, by the flasher. Rather to my surprise, it looks like there is power at the flasher unit at all times if the ignition is on, but the the flashing and routing of the flashes to the lights is controlled by a second terminal on the flasher.

    The flasher unit is alledged to be in a plastic holder on the firewall near the steering column "behind the interior fuse panel" I don't see a fuse panel in Haynes picture and the nearest fuse panel I've encountered on our 1999 Camry is behind the coin holder on the dash to the left of the steering column. There are apparently both four and five pin versions of the flasher, so you possibly need to pull it and count pins before heading off to the parts store. (It's dark and raining outside, or I'd go look at our car to see if I can find our flasher from that information).
  • edited June 2010
    Thank you for your response. Though I still have to check against the actual vehicle, your response appears to be what was needed.

    The alleged location matches the sound, Autozone reports stocking the flasher unit, and Toyota has replacement owners manuals. The wiring diagram for a 1992 Camry is available at http://www.pdfee.com/toyota-camry-electrical-wiring-diagram.html . The 2001 Avalon service manual wiring diagram shows power always delivered to a 3-wire flasher relay, different in location and apparent shape from that used in the Camry.

    Is the above a URL for the "typical wiring diagram"?
    If not, do you have a URL for the "typical wiring diagram"?

    The owners manual is not available for at least 1 week.
    Before then, I will try to examine its location with a mirror.

    In the meantime, do you know how to remove and replace the flasher unit?

    Thank you
  • edited June 2010
    I had the same problem with a 2000 Blazer. It turned out to be a failing multifunction switch (turn signal, cruise control, wipers, etc). It's a known problem with GM vehicles of this era.

    Try spraying some CRC Electrical Contact Cleaner into the base of the switch at the steering column to clean the switch contacts. This only worked for a few days on the Blazer, but at least confirmed the switch was the problem.

    Ed B.

  • edited June 2010
    I got the typical wiring diagram from a Haynes Manual. Your local library might have a copy. I assume that you look for hold down screws, remove them if they exist, then simply pull out on the flasher and it slides out. That's how it works on some other cars. The principle problem is that you are going to have to stand on your head in order to work yourself into the space high up under the dash over to the left of the steering column. And I think that the brake pedal is in that area in order to further impede access and visibility.

    You might be able to get into the area by sliding the driver's seat all the way back, opening the driver's door, laying on the ground with your feet toward the rear of the car, and trying to slither over the door sill until you can get your head and hands into the area and actually see and remove the flasher.

    ======

    Our Camry has proved to be very reliable. Which is a good thing because it is not much fun to work on.
  • edited July 2010
    The cure was to replace the "Flasher Unit".

    The apparent cause was normal thermal wear, that limits the part life to several years. This was probably exacerbated by the high air temperatures that characterize South Carolina. The probable mode, is slowly rising resistance in the coil, causing a rise in idle temperature over the years, until combined with high air temperature it is enough to keep the part oscillating continuously. The indicator switch keeps the actual indicator lights from blinking. I suspect the reason for the "always on" feature is to prevent delay in starting to blink when needed in cold climes.

    Without the service manual, it took ~60min to learn how to remove the lower cowling, and another hour to learn how to free the old flasher unit with a standard clip tool. In hindsight, the service manual would likely have made clear how to replace the flasher unit without removing the cowling, and directed use of a clip tool. The cure should then have taken about 10min.
  • edited July 2010
    You can get the owners manual and the service manual including electrical schematics free at:
    www.camrystuff.com
  • edited July 2010
    Thank you.

    I've passed the url along.
This discussion has been closed.