tl;dr: My turn signal has stopped cancelling reliably - can I repair it or should I get it replaced?

Full Query/Context: A properly functioning turn signal system, I believe, will typically cancel the signal when the steering wheel is turned a certain distance in the direction of the signal, then turned back a certain distance (this is at least the way all turn signals have worked for me).

My Chevy Equinox has recently stopped doing this reliably for the right turn signal. I was hoping someone could offer some insight on how the cancel function works, how it could be repaired or replaced by a reasonably competent Computer Engineer (mechanically minded, but not mechanically experienced), or whether this is too complicated/small of a device (or its integrated into something complex) to do on my own.

2 Answers 2


Usually the breakage is some small plastic part that you're not going to be able to reasonably repair. Typically a whole replacement unit can be had pretty cheap from a junkyard anyways. Normally not worth a repair effort.

  • Have to agree, even though the replacement that I did was new vs. used part. The whole module is an assemblage of fiddly plastic bits. Not impossible but you may want to think about the XKCD formula for the value of your time: xkcd.com/951
    – Bob Cross
    Sep 16, 2011 at 18:37
  • Partly off-topic, partly car-related... :-) I strongly agree in the cost of the driving being greater than the return part of the comic. Not so much the value of time part. I fill up on my way to/from work, when my value of time is zero. If I save anything, I win as my time was worth zero. Therefore, the time component is a false argument. There may be a few folks that doesn't hold true for, but for most of us the time value argument is invalidated. Of course, the mileage cost is VERY valid for everyone (well, there's some dependencies on type of driving (e-way vs city) of course)! :-) Sep 16, 2011 at 19:05
  • @Brian Alright - so the problem is most likely a worn or nearly-broken piece of plastic that would otherwise trip the cancel action? ... and just to be clear, "pretty cheap" means $1-10, $10-50? more? and I should be able to figutre out how to install it/change it out? Sep 16, 2011 at 19:39
  • Last time I replaced a turn signal stalk (whole stalk, with clicker, and everything), I was able to get one from a parted out car for $15. My vehicle had an airbag, so I had to follow the manual very carefully to disarm the airbag, remove it, do the stalk replacement, then reattach & rearm the airbag. Airbag (if you have one) is very dangerous and procedures are vehicle specific (you MUST have the right manuals and follow them to the letter in order to avoid inadvertant deployment). Sep 16, 2011 at 20:54
  • 2
    The one reason that a used part might not be such a good idea is that on some cars, it's essentially the same part in the turn signal switch mechanism that breaks. So you might just end up replacing it with another one that'd break fairly soon if you buy used. Sep 17, 2011 at 1:54

The last time (many years ago) I changed out a turn signal switch it was a PITA because of all the anti-theft devices wrapped around the steering column. By the time I got to the switch I was cursing up a streak and I never did get the thing back together right. Never again. With airbag systems on the steering wheel it can only have gotten worse. My advice is to take the thing to a garage and open up your wallet. If you really want to do it yourself, for God's sake don't pinch pennies and put in a junk part that might go bad in a month. Those plastic parts in the switch from the junkyard are about the same age and just as brittle as the one you are replacing. You will be doing it all over again way too soon.


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