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Turn Signal Trivia

Turn Signal Trivia

Buick originally tried to eliminate the all-to-familiar clicking noise from turn signals in 1940

Author: FleetLogik/Thursday, December 28, 2017/Categories: Featured, FastFacts

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The first application of a flashing electric turn signal was used on the 1938 Buick as a new safety feature called the “Flash-Way Directional Signal”.  The process was based on an engineered “short-circuit”.  Electricity flowing through a wire expands it, completing a circuit and allowing current to reach the lightbulb. This short-circuits the wire, which then shrinks and terminates contact with the bulb but is then ready for another cycle. 

The flasher unit evolved in design to use bi-metallic spring steel to do the job. Manufactures originally tried to muffle the familiar clicking noise we have become accustom to. 


By 1940, Buick added the self-canceling mechanism attached to the steering column as standard equipment.  This complex and sensitive mechanical method of springs, cams, sliders and lobes with fixed shut-off points is the basis of what is still used worldwide in virtually all vehicles. 

It would not be until the late 60’s that the emergency 4-way flashers became standard.   

The solid state technology in today’s cars don’t really need to make that clicky noise, but has remained a remnant from the olden days when bimetallic springs and little electronic under-dash chips and relays did all the work. Today, the clicking noise is added intentionally though the speakers or other means.  


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