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1988 Plymouth Voyager turn signals not flashing.

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by David Farber, Nov 22, 2013.

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  1. David Farber

    David Farber Guest

    This 1988 Plymouth Voyager has a flashing turn signal issue. When either the
    left or right turn signal switch is engaged, the turn signals light but do
    not flash. The hazard lights flash just fine. Here is the wiring diagram:

    At first one side of the turn signal lights were blinking but not the other.
    Then, the working side went out too.The flasher was then replaced (eBay) but
    that didn't help.

    My question is what's the deal with the turn signal switch diagram in the
    above linked picture? There are two, angled, thick black lines located in
    the switch assembly (on the steering column). Which part of the switch
    actually moves and which contacts get connected?

    According to the continuity chart in the service manual, two sets of
    terminals get connected when the left signal is activated. The first set
    connects terminals 4,7, and 8. The second set connects terminals 9 and 10.
    For the right signal, the first set connects terminals 5,7, and 9. The
    second set connects terminals 8 and 10.

    In the neutral position, 8,9, and 10 are connected.

    I checked continuity on all these terminals and they checked out ok. By the
    way, not shown in the picture are where the wires, D7, D6, D5, D8 and D4
    terminate. Respectively, they terminate at the right rear turn and stop
    signal lamp, D6 and D5 both go to the front end lighting, and D8 goes to the
    left rear turn and stop signal lamp. D4 goes to a fuse.

    Finally, approximately how much of a load does the flasher need to see
    before it will open the circuit and begin flashing?

    Thanks for your reply.
  2. Forgive me if this is an old post. My reader shows the date as 11/22/2013.

    To answer the question, those lines on the switch mean that those contacts
    are jumpered together.

    To fix the problem, replace the turn signal flasher.
  3. David Farber

    David Farber Guest

    Thanks for the information abut the switch.

    The flasher was replaced. It did not correct the problem.
  4. Guest

    New, good, working flashers for that van are $6 + tax at the local auto
    parts store. Counterfeit, used, and broken flashers have to cost more
    than that on eBay with shipping. This car probably takes a 552 flasher.

    For testing, the turn signal flasher can be replaced with a short piece
    of 18 gauge wire (or thicker, like 16 or 14 gauge) with 1/4" male
    terminals crimped on the ends. This should make the turn signals on the
    appropriate side light up steadily when the turn signal switch is
    flicked that way. If this doesn't happen, the problem is not in the
    The "arrows" actually move. The tail of the arrow stays attached to its
    dot and the head of the arrow moves around. The switch is shown in the
    neutral/off position.

    As shown, D9 (brake light switch) connects to D7 (right rear stop/turn)
    and D8 (left rear stop/turn). D2 (turn signal flasher) isn't connected
    to anything.

    When you turn right, the little arrows all move up in parallel (as
    shown by the dashed line). D9 (brake) is no longer connected to D7
    (right rear stop/turn). D9 (brake) is still connected to D8 (left rear
    stop/turn). D2 (turn) is connected to D7 (right rear stop/turn), so the
    right rear light flashes. D2 is also connected to D5 (right front
    turn), so the right front light flashes.

    When you turn left, the little arrows all move down in parallel (as
    shown by the dashed line). D9 (brake) is no longer connected to D8
    (left rear stop/turn). D9 (brake) is still connected to D7 (right rear
    stop/turn). D2 (turn) is connected to D8 (left rear stop/turn), so the
    left rear light flashes. D2 is also connected to D6 (left front
    turn), so the left front light flashes.
    Usually, one turn signal lamp, which is about 2 amps. One amp may or
    may not do it, or it may take a *long* time to start flashing. Less
    than one amp usually won't make it flash.

    Matt Roberds
  5. David Farber

    David Farber Guest

    Hi Jon,

    After the flasher replacement didn't work, all the bulbs that are in the
    turn signal circuit were replaced, I think. There were other people working
    on the car at the time. All the correct lights come on brightly when the
    turn signal is activated. But you're absolutely correct that the lamp
    sockets aren't in great shape and it is possible the dual filament bulbs
    could be reversed. One of the front bulbs has a very poor looking socket and
    won't illuminate all the time. However, I just tested the flasher on my
    bench. It's a Wagner 323. The print on the cover says, "3 lamp 12 Volt,"
    whatever that means. (How about a current rating?) I hooked a 4 ohm load and
    cranked the voltage up to 12, the switch didn't open. Even going up to 16
    volts which produced 4 amps of current didn't activate the flasher. There
    was even a second flasher that came in the package, it didn't work on my
    bench either.

    Thanks for your reply.
  6. David Farber

    David Farber Guest

    Hi Matt,

    I should have included in my initial summary that the flasher replacement is
    a Wagoner 323, 3 lamp, 12 volt device. I hooked it up on my bench,
    increasing the voltage to as high as 16 volts to produce 4 amps of current.
    It still did not open the circuit. Very curious or very bad right out of the

    Thanks for your reply.
  7. Guest

    This is a fixed load flasher for 3 lamps of 32 candlepower each (lamps
    like 1156, 1157, 2057). Its rated current is 6.4 A. (I have an older
    Wagner paper catalog.)

    Depending on how many lamps it has to flash, a 224 (2 lamp, 4.4 A), 228
    (2 lamp, 4.75 A), or 322 (3 lamp, 5.3 A) flasher may also be a good

    Some auto parts stores only stock variable load flashers. If so, a 536
    (1 to 6 lamp), 552 (1 to 6 lamp), or 575 (1 to 8 lamp) may be a good
    replacement, but the 536 may be too tall to fit.
    The catalog I have implies that if one lamp fails, a fixed load flasher
    will stop flashing. This implies that it should flash with a load from
    6.4 down to about 4.3 A. If you can load it to 6 A and it still doesn't
    flash, I think it's probably bad.

    If it does start flashing, check the lamps and lamp sockets, as has been
    suggested. If the sockets are really beat, some car parts stores carry
    replacement sockets; look carefully at the part that twists into the
    reflector to make sure it's the same. The Chrysler dealer may or may
    not still have them. A junkyard will have them but theirs are likely to
    be beat up as well; the man at the desk should have an interchange book
    that says what years are the same - try to get one from the newest year
    you can.

    Matt Roberds
  8. David Farber

    David Farber Guest

    Hi Matt,

    This time, I increased the load from 4 ohms to about 2 ohms. The flasher
    came on at a "normal" speed when the voltage was increased and the current
    came up to about 5.5 amps. So now I have to check the change in the car
    battery current when activating the turn signal and see if it's close to
    this magic number.

    Thanks so much for your help.
  9. David Farber

    David Farber Guest

    Hi Matt,

    A couple more questions, for this simple kind of bi-metallic flasher, what
    design differences are there between a variable load flasher and a fixed
    load flasher? What would be the advantages to using a fixed load flasher?

    From my observations, there are three dual element bulbs in the flashing
    circuit and each one of them will draw 2.1 amps on the larger filament. Then
    there is a smaller corner bulb that draws only 0.27 amps. That adds up to
    6.57 amps. Am I correct in saying that the larger, higher current filaments
    are assigned to the flashing circuit?

    Thanks for your reply.
  10. Guest

    A fixed load flasher starts out closed (on), and the bimetal heats
    itself up from the current drawn by the lamps. Once enough current has
    been drawn for long enough, the bimetal snaps open (off), cools down,
    snaps closed again (on), and so forth. It depends on the lamps drawing
    enough current to heat the bimetal enough to start flashing.

    A variable load flasher starts out open (off), and has a heating
    element in parallel with the bimetal. Any path to ground will run the
    heating element, and the bimetal will eventually snap closed (on).
    This shorts out the heater, the bimetal cools down, snaps open (off),
    and so forth.
    If one lamp fails with a fixed load flasher, the driver can tell that
    there is a problem, because the remaining turn signal lamps will just
    come on steady. Also, the lamps that do work will provide at least
    some indication to other drivers.

    The hazard (4-way) flasher is usually a variable load flasher, because
    it should flash no matter what; if the car has just been in a wreck and
    some of the turn signal lamps are smashed, it can still be useful to
    flash the remaining turn signal lamps as a warning to other drivers.
    Yep. The "bright" filament is always on the turn (or stop) circuit,
    and the "dim" filament is always on the parking/running light circuit.
    You're welcome!

    Matt Roberds
  11. David Farber

    David Farber Guest

    Hi Matt,

    I visited the car this afternoon and measured the current difference between
    turn signals on and off. It was less than 4 amps difference. I started
    pulling the lamps and looked into the sockets. Both front left sockets were
    covered in a green chalky substance. I guess that would explain the problem
    there. On the right side, one of the two signal lights glowed brighter than
    the other. Also, the bulb numbers were different. I should have checked that
    first time around. The voltage at the dim bulb socket with no load was 1
    volt less (11v vs. 12v) than the battery voltage. Another bad socket?
    Checking the rear lights I noticed that the smaller filaments were glowing
    when the turn signals were activated. I checked the socket and bulb and it
    didn't seem possible that the bulb could have been inserted so that the
    terminals were reversed. I had another appointment to go to so I couldn't do
    anymore investigating but the first thing on the to do list will be to
    replace the corroded sockets.

    Thanks for your assistance.
  12. Guest

    You might look around the lens and reflector for holes that can let
    water in. Sometimes the seam between the lens and reflector starts to
    open up, too. For small holes, a little bit of RTV silicone or even
    tape will close them up. For big holes, either use dielectric grease
    on the lamps (see below), or hit up the junkyard for replacements.

    Sometimes it's that the socket doesn't seal well to the reflector, and
    this is harder to fix. I had an '89 Chevy that would constantly fill
    its front side marker lights with water. I learned to just shake the
    water out of them at every oil change.

    You can get "dielectric grease" to put on the lamp bases, which tends
    to keep water out of the sockets. You put it all over everything; the
    contacts will squish the grease out of the way in enough places to make
    the connection. Car parts stores sell it either in little ketchup
    packets, which will do one or two bulbs, or a tube of a few ounces,
    which is a lifetime supply. :)
    There are a few different lamps that will fit in the hole but that have
    different ratings. is a
    good online reference for looking up the ratings.
    In roughly this order: bad socket, bad ground wire (socket to body),
    bad hot wire (turn signal switch to socket), bad turn signal switch.

    For some reason, car lamps at most car parts stores are stupid prices
    these days - $5 for a pack of two, as opposed to the $2 or $2.50 it was
    a few years ago. If you think you are going to replace several lamps on
    this van, and they are all the same lamp number, it might pay to ask at
    NAPA about the price of a 10-pack; they carried them that way the last
    time I looked. O'Reilly may have 10-packs as well.
    Loose or open ground wire from one or both rear light clusters to
    ground (body sheet metal). You can trace it out, or just add your own
    ground wire (14 or 16 gauge is fine) from the lamp cluster to ground.
    If the van lives (or used to live) in a place where it snows a lot,
    sometimes the rear-end wiring gets corroded from salt and moisture.
    If it has hauled a lot of cargo, that can also beat up the wiring.
    In some sockets this is pretty hard to do, but in others it's not hard
    at all. It also depends on the lamp a little; some of them have
    slightly taller keying pegs on the side than others.

    Standard disclaimers apply: I don't get money or other consideration
    from any companies mentioned.

    Matt Roberds
  13. David Farber

    David Farber Guest

    Hi Matt,

    The cutouts in the reflectors that the lamp sockets twist into are cracked
    in some areas. So that's probably not a very tight seal.

    I found this website which
    explains that the smaller (the one that's closer to the base) filament is
    the higher wattage filament. If that is correct, then the proper filament is
    illuminating when the turn signal is activated.

    That Sunray lamp chart, was quite
    helpful. Thanks for that.

    At this point, checking voltages and continuity will be the next order of
    business if the new sockets don't correct the problem. (I'll be sure to put
    some dielectric grease in the sockets as well.)

    Regarding the $5 per package light bulb prices, you're paying for the
    convenience when you just buy a couple of lamps in a hurry. Also, if you
    happen to misread the number on the bulb, it's easier to return.

    Thanks for your reply.
  14. David Farber

    David Farber Guest

    Hi Eric,

    Agreed, weird things happen when grounds open up and other circuit paths get
    involved. If I had more time, I'd trace each lamp circuit individually which
    is probably what I'll have to do anyway.

    Thanks for your reply.
  15. David Farber

    David Farber Guest

    After replacing three of the four front turn signal sockets today, all is
    well again.

    Thanks for all the replies.
  16. Guest

    Thanks for posting back with what fixed it!

    Matt Roberds
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