Troubleshooting a Motorcycle Turn Signal

by Donna Thacker

Riding a motorcycle with a faulty turn signal is dangerous for both you and the other vehicles on the road. Turn signals tell the other drivers where you are going and allows them to react to what you are doing. The bright amber blinking draws their attention much quicker than seeing the vehicle actually turn or stop. As soon as you realize the blinker on your turn signal is not working, you should use hand signals to warn other drivers about the maneuvers you are attempting.

Get the Motorcycle Safely of the Road

Before you can trouble shoot the signal problems, you need to get safely off the road or back home. Use universal hand signals to warn other drivers about the maneuvers you are making. The left arm pointed straight out signals that you plan to turn left. Bending the left arm into a 45 degree angle--or bent so that your hand points straight up--will indicate to other drivers that you plan to turn right. When your turn signals fail, it is crucial to use these gestures. Once you are safely off the road, you can visually inspect your turn signal. Look for cracks in the lens cover that might have damaged the bulb or signal itself. Next, you need to remove the turn signal lens and inspect the bulb. Carrying a small tool kit for emergency repairs will help you achieve this. Remove the bulb to see if it is burned out. Try putting a new bulb into the socket.

Troubleshooting Deeper

If a new bulb doesn't fix the issue, inspect the inside housing of the turn signal. Water may have gotten inside the lens and caused some corrosion. This may affect how well the bulb is making a connection. If the inside of the housing is rusted or corroded, you may have to purchase a new turn signal. Use an electrical test light to check all of the wiring and connections. If all of these tests look good, you may have to replace the flasher relay. Refer to your owner's manual on the proper way to locate and remove the flasher relay from your brand of motorcycle. Your motorcycle dealer will probably have one in stock, depending on what year, make and model the motorcycle is.

Trial and Error

The best way to troubleshoot your turn signal problems is to start with the easiest fixes and continue working your way through the other checks until you have found the cause. If you have checked everything--and the turn signal still does not work--you need to take the motorcycle to a certified mechanic to check for other underlying electrical problems.

About the Author

Donna Thacker has been a writer/photographer for over 15 years. She held the position of associate editor/writer/photographer at Biker Ally Magazine. She currently is a photojournalist for The Biking Life, and has been featured on the front page of The Greenville Advocate, The Hillsboro Journal and The Sorento News. Thacker also designed and published several booklets of historical interest for local organizations.

More Articles

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Donna Thacker