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Turn signal flasher speed


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I've always been curious on this one. When I first got my car, my turn signals seemed intermittent, a bit sporadic and just didn't seem right. I purchased a new P229D flasher and it's been working since. But they still have a very short flash which is kinda hard to see. Hard enough that some idiot honked at me from behind and went around me while I was waiting to turn left last summer. I don't think he could see my turn signal on. I realize these cars aren't the best in lighting but I'm still wondering if this short flash indicator is indicative of this era or maybe there's a better flasher out there?   

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I would try another flasher. The old mechanical ones are usually calibrated to the number of bulbs flashing, and will flash too fast or too slow if the current draw is different for some reason, like brighter bulbs, or a burned out bulb, or the wrong number of bulbs (car with extra taillights, or trailer towing, etc.).

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20 hours ago, Bloo said:

if the current draw is different for some reason,

 

Is it a 6V flasher?  A 12V flasher will be expecting to see 1/2 of the current of a 6V flasher (for the same Wattage load).  That would cause quick heating of the bi-metal switch in a mechanical flasher.  (Similar to adding trailer lights to a stock system, which lowers the total circuit resistance, increasing the current through the flasher.)

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On 12/30/2019 at 11:52 AM, Summershandy said:

Yup!

 

OK, thanks.  I agree with Bloo -- try another one.  I had the same issue with my GP after installing a sequential turn signal kit.  The flash rate was too quick.  I swapped another old mechanical flasher I had in my parts stash and the flash rate is now perfect.  Maybe try a 'heavy duty' flasher (if available),  or a newer LED-compatible electronic flasher (https://www.amazon.com/Heavy-Compatible-Electronic-Flasher-Signal/dp/B07MJGC28B)?

Edited by EmTee
typo (see edit history)
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If you have substituted LED bulbs for your turn signals, they draw significantly less current which will result in the condition you described.

The remedy is to add an additional resistor to each turn circuit, or to find a flasher unit intended for LED bulbs,

(or to add an additional incandescent bulb somewhere - not the best way to go).

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My experience having worked in New Car parts departments for 14 years and fixing and driving cars from the 19 teens to the 20 teens is that new out of the box does NOT mean it works correctly or works at all.  One tune up man in a dealership where I worked only replaced a condenser if the points were blue.  His come back rate was the lowest.  I have had many, many new out of the box parts that did not work correctly if at all.  The points and condenser have been in my car for over 30 years (300,000+ miles) except for a two week period.  After ten years I bought a new set and installed them.  The car ran terrible, a second set would not run at all, the third set worked so I kept them as spares and put my old ones back in and they are still there 20 years later.  I figured out what was wrong with the new points and fixed them but have not put them back in the car.  On a newer car It took three tries before I got the right set of brake pads.  And the could go on for pages.

In your particular case I would buy another flasher and try it or go to the parts store with the car, have the counterman or manager come out and show him/her how it flashes and then keep swapping flashers until one flashes correctly.  If they do not want to do this, shop elsewhere.  It is an insult to a Pontiac to install inferior parts.😊

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Haha I hear ya! I did run into that problem when I wondered why my brake lights didn't work properly when I got the car. Thought maybe it was the hydraulic switch and because I was changing the entire brake system, a new switch would be in the works. After full installation my brake lights still didn't work. It turned out to be a faulty NEW switch. Bought another and haven't looked back. 

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  • 2 months later...

I received another flasher which turned out to be a 535. Awesome flash rate and very noticeable. I like it. Trouble is, both indicators flash at the same time on the dash but the proper one is flashing outside. I remember picking up a 535 from NAPA years ago and the same thing happened. Put the P229D back and it flashed fast again but the proper signal was flashing on the dash. I also tried the original flasher that came with the car and it illuminates for only a split second. Why the heck would BOTH indicators flash inside when using the 535 but not the P229D??

Edited by Summershandy (see edit history)
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I have a guess.

 

This comes up on VCCA frequently, and if the Pontiac is wired the same as a Chevrolet, the flasher could definitely make a difference.

 

The third pin on a flasher is for a dash indicator, one dash indicator. If you think about it for a moment you will see why that exists. There is no place to hook a single bulb. Ahead of the switch it would pull current from the flasher when everything is off. After the switch, you would have to pick a side... or just have 2 separate bulbs.

 

If you have 2 separate dash indicators, it's easy. You just connect the dash indicators to the front signals. Why the front? Because the back, in many systems, it tied into the brake lights. The dash indicators would come on with the brake lights if you used the back.

 

In 1953, Chevrolet did something inexplicable. They put in 2 dash indicators, but instead of grounding the bulbs, they connected the wires that would have been bulb grounds to the third pin on the flasher. Remember this third pin is a separate hot wire that blinks a single dash indicator, when any signal is on,  on cars that use only one dash indicator.

 

This certainly begs the question how it could have ever worked as we expect it to. I wondered if the flasher could have been different. Parts books confirm that it is the same flasher used in 1951, when there was a single dash indicator connected to the third pin, as normal.

 

There was at least one brand of aftermarket signal switch that had 2 indicators, and always blinked both of them. If one went out, it indicated there was a signal bulb burned out on the outside of the car somewhere. I have wondered if Chevrolet was cooking some similar scheme, but have not been able to confirm. 

 

Or maybe the dash indicator connected to the correct side is OFF, and the OPPOSITE side finds a ground through the signal bulbs that are not on, and the two indicators are reversed in position in the dash? I suspect this might be the case. If so, a flasher with a third contact that flashed out of sync with the signals would break the scheme.

 

So, check the Pontiac wiring diagram, and if it is indeed wired like a Chevrolet (probably), grounding the third wire instead of connecting it to the flasher third pin will cause the dash indicators to behave like you would expect. You might have to swap the positions of the dash indicator sockets.

 

 

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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I remember reading about grounding the 3rd pin and I had tried but it was still plugged in to the flasher. Maybe I can make up a couple short wires with spaded ends and play with it and see if it changes. There must be something internally with the flashers that compensate for this. 

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I re-wired mine so it would accept three- or two-pin flashers which makes going down the electronic flasher route more easy.

 

The older type of flasher had a small bolster heater on the bimetallic strip that was tied into the dash tell-tale (third pin) which serves a couple of purposes: First, it keeps the flash rate more steady across a range of voltages and operating temperatures- it reduces the chance of the light not blinking at idle, particularly. Second, it gives a visual indication that a bulb has burned- the tell-tale just glows with the heater current rather than blinking.

 

The newer ones don't tend to have that in place, just a third contact that makes and breaks with the blink. Electronic ones just switch it on and off and neither actually require it to be connected, so I wired the telltales into the circuits for the front bulbs and made it so the third pin isn't relied upon. If you look carefully at the bulb-holders they do not ground to the metal of the instrument housing, they are completely isolated from it and connect only back to the flasher unit. I took the bulb body side connection to ground and the bulb pin to the front light wires. If a bulb burns on this one then the thing just doesn't blink. The behavior of the turn signal changes and that satisfies build regulations. (The alternative is for it to flash at over 2x the regular rate to let you know something's wrong in the circuit).

 

Have you taken the turn signal switch (I'm guessing it's a factory-fit Guide?) apart? Mine was filthy, the contacts were burned up and even with a new blinker unit the turn signals were intermittent- they would illuminate but not blink, or they would blink intermittently. If the flasher unit isn't bad, I'd say definitely to check the grounds of the front lamps- I ran an extra ring terminal to one of the screws on the back of the housing up to the headlight ground at the top of the inner fender and that helped a huge amount. The lampholder/reflector assembly needs to make good contact against the bucket it sits in, and the bucket to the fender. I found that the flat plates didn't ground reliably because the front wheel perpetually throws road dirt at the lamp housing and makes it rust. The bulb would illuminate bright but not blink, particularly with the engine off or at idle.

 

--Phil

Edited by PhilAndrews (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, Summershandy said:

My signal switch is probably worn out also. Grounds are all good. I was curious why 2 different style 6 volt flashers cause different results. I still have some playing to do. Thanks! 

 

Because the old style ones (generally marked "DO NOT DROP") operate internally in a different fashion to the newer ones, the newer ones being significantly less complicated with fewer moving parts.

 

If you cannot pull adequate current through it, it'll not blink. That's pretty much the long and short of it. For simple reliability's sake, and granted they sound different, a modern electronic one is a nice thing to have. They blink at the same rate with the engine off in -30 weather as they do with the heater on full at 2500RPM.

 

 

(Also, if you read the manual, the failure behavior for "bulb blown" in this system is to have both turn signal bulbs illuminate dim at the same time when you switch to the side that has a burned bulb. The new flashers cannot pass the current properly through the third pin if they are designed wrong so you end up with both arrows flashing bright as there's a higher PD across them. What bulbs do you have in the telltales? For giggles, pull one of the bulbs out of its holder, put the original flasher unit back in and see if that slows the blink to something more sensible. If so, the bulbs you have fitted are too high wattage)

Edited by PhilAndrews (see edit history)
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14 hours ago, PhilAndrews said:

if the turn signals cause too much trouble you can simply remove them.

 

Trouble is, today's drivers probably know nothing of hand turn signals. I'd be getting a lot of honks and looks or worse a rear ender! This just gave me a flashback of those cats and dogs on the rear deck who's eyes would blink whenever signalling or braking....

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