Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Left rear turn signal intermittent problem

I’ve got an '04 Toyota Highlander that has an odd intermittent problem with the left rear turn signal. From time to time it will behave as if the bulb is burned out (quick flashing on the dashboard and with the front light). This only happens occasionally.

It’s odd because the bulb is fine. I’ve replaced it for good measure anyway. It didn’t make a diffference.

I thought perhaps it was an issue with the contacts of the bulb housing. So I’ve tried to bend them up to have greater pressure on the mounting. This doesn’t seem to help either. I also tried swapping the right side bulb carrier with the left side one. The issue still persists.

The odd thing is that, when this starts to happen if I ride the breaks for about 45 seconds while the left flasher is on it will usually correct itself and behave like normal. Once I pick up the breaks and drive normally it will work fine for the duration of the time the car is on.

It seems to happen more often after the car has been sitting some time. Like overnight or after a day at work. It probably happens once a week. Most of the time I can clear it up by hitting the break pedal until it starts working right but sometimes it won’t resolve itself at all and will stay “broken” for a day or two and start working on it’s own again.

I have had some electrical issues with this vehicle already. The starter relay went bad a couple of weeks ago. The drivers side power window switch panel went dead about 8 months ago. Other than that the vehicle has been problem free. I keep up with all the regular maintenance. It’s got ~65,000 miles on it. I’ve owned it about a year and a half.

Any ideas?

Try replacing both rear turn signal lamps. No promise, but if you DIY it is cheap.

I wonder if the problem might be in the left front turning signal. This is a dual filament bulb and the turning signal filament might be sagging just enough to contact the other filament. I’m not sure why stepping on the brake is temporarily curing the problem, but while your changing bulbs, you have nothing to lose by changing the front bulb as well.