Where did they hide the electronic flashers in a 1999 Windstar?

I’m having a turn signal problem that suddenly appeared on my way to work Wednesday. I’d take it to my local Ford dealer, but my last experience with them was so bad (it was the only time in my life that I have ever sworn at someone in the service sector) that I’d rather push it off a cliff than go back there. So I’m attempting to fix it myself.

The problem? The right turn signal on my 1999 Ford Windstar is flashing at half speed outside most of the time, sometimes working at normal speed for a couple of flashes.

The corresponding light on the dash is flashing unevenly, with the “bad bulb” warning indicator flashing as it does. It’s basically clicking out Carol of the Bells (dah diga dah, dah diga dah) most of the time, with a little Bohemian Rhapsody thrown in for good measure (diga diga dah dah. This is a completely different rhythm from what it sounds like with a bulb missing (which is basically just a much faster, but even blinking).

The left signal behaves normally. The hazard flasher behaves erratically just like the right one.

I’ve already replaced both bulbs (even though they appeared to be working) and plugged and unplugged them several times in case there was any contact corrosion involved.

So I figure the next thing I should do is to swap the electronic flasher modules to see if the problem switches sides. Here’s the problem: I can’t find them.

The Haynes manual says they are next to the fuse box. No such luck. I’ve also crawled under there with a high power flashlight and looked all the way up under the dash including up against the dash itself as best I could (with my head pressing down on the gas pedal). Despite all that, I just plain couldn’t see anything that looks remotely like the pictures I’ve seen of these things. (They apparently look almost identical to the relays except for dimensions and possibly color.)

So where exactly did they hide these things?

There is a relay box located under the dash left of the column. Locator says flasher relay there.

I’m trying to remember from my 88 Windstar. Have you looked behind the glovebox door?

If you mean the relay box mounted to the outer wall of the car that starts an inch or so above the bottom edge of the dash, all I find there are eight identical relays and several rows of fuses. (That’s where the Haynes manual says they should be, also…)

I’m assuming they aren’t somehow hidden on the back side of the relay box between it and the outer wall of the car (where you would need to somehow remove the entire box to reach them), right?

Curiouser and curiouser.

There isn’t anything in the glovebox as far as I can tell, and there’s nothing at all under the passenger’s feet or up above them except for air ducts and the wires for the floor lamp.

The flasher relay should be one of those identical relays. Have you removed them one at a time to try to find it?

the action that you describe usually means that you have a bulb not working properly or installed improperly or even the wrong bulb installed. turn the signal on for the left side and visually look at the front and rear while they are flashing. then turn on the right side and observe how the are flashing. i think that you will see a difference and then make the necessary repair. if not then…

some of the flasher units of the later model fords are contained in a control box that is rather pricey. you must by the control box as a complete assembly. good luck.
also call your local ford dealer parts dept have the VIN ready. ask for the price of the flasher and the location. they can tell you for sure

Your options are the dealer or fix it yourself? The world is full of perfectly good auto repair professionals. Granted, it is also full of bad ones. But just ask around among people that you know for a good local shop. Dealers’ service shops have no special magic.

That said, this isn’t necessarily something you need a shop for. I’d be pulling those relays under the drivers’ side dash one by one as pete peters suggested.

If the worst happens and you decide to push it off a cliff, make sure to post it on you tube. I’d love to see it!

I agree that this is most likely a bulb problem. I would turn on the hazzard lights to see which bulbs illuminate. Then consult your owner’s manual or a bulb chart at any auto parts store or even WalMart. I would replace all the bulbs on the right side. Maybe replace the rear ones first and try the flashers. If that cures the problem, great! If not, replace the front bulbs. Even if this doesn’t fix it, you are out less than $10.

Some flashers make noise when operating and you can feel them operating too. See if both sides flash the same, check front and back. Sometimes there are two bulbs up front. One of them may be out.

As I said in the original post, the first thing I tried was replacing both front and rear turn signal bulbs. Also, the behavior when the bulbs are blown is a rapid blink on the inside. This isn’t rapid, but rather erratic.

The bulbs appear to be the same brightness on right and left to the best of my ability to discern.

Already did that. None of the relays made any difference except for the one that disabled all lighting including the interior lights. Swapping relays made no difference.

Since the left works OK, follow the sound to the flasher. There’s only one.
Also check your side marker lamp bulbs.

For anyone who comes to this thread in the future looking for the answer, I ended up taking it to a repair shop for a sudden, catastrophic power steering pump detonation (it went from quiet to sounding like it was doing inappropriate things with a moose). They tried to find it, and eventually concluded that (as I suspected) Ford hid the flasher up inside the instrument cluster. In-freaking-sane.