Sometimes I don't want my indicators to self cancel, so I hold the indicator on while turning the wheel, and it makes a cracking/clicking noise.

Am I damaging anything if I do this?

EDIT: To clarify, I am holding the indicator in the on position while the wheel is turning so the wheels are straight again. This means the indicator pushes to self-cancel and fails as I'm holding it in position, and I feel some force from the indicator.

UPDATE: I would prefer to have an answer from an official source. Thanks.

  • 1
    I have no idea, but I've done this on occasion myself so I'd also be interested to know the answer. – Max Goodridge Jan 30 '16 at 20:12
  • I accidentally did this once, and it made quite a loud crack. Everything still worked afterward, but I never did it again. Turn signal switches are very costly to replace, so I wouldn't chance it. That said, some cars might be more tolerant to this than others... – JPhi1618 Feb 1 '16 at 14:00
  • In europe its quite common to have left turns on right hand bends or the opposite. The stalks are designed to take it to some level but as most are plastic they will eventually wear. – Mauro Mar 22 '16 at 8:54
  • Depends on the car. Some models have a mechanism that is very forgiving. Others are absolutely brittle. What kind of car do you drive? – race fever Mar 22 '16 at 23:55

A rundown on the basic self-cancelling mechanism can be found here. Depending on how modern your car is, the mechanisms will have been engineered with materials that are malleable enough to withstand any treatment the mechanism will encounter in normal service.

As such, it seems this problem has been all but eliminated in modern commercial vehicles. After a little searching around, the most recent cars I could find running into this problem were late 90's to early 00's American vehicles (GM Suburban & Cobalt, Chrysler Grand Caravan/Town&Country, Ford Focus), mid-90's Honda Civics and Alfa 156s, and some late 80's BMWs.


It certainly used to be possible to damage the mechanism. .

Years ago, on my 1979 Renault 5, I managed to break the self cancellation mechanism just as you describe. A small nub on the steering column snapped off and the indicators never self cancelled again. The nub in question released a spring clip on the indicator stalk to enable it to return to the central position.

On my current 1976 VW something similar happened and the indicators now self cancel if I turn left, but not if I turn right.

However, on all the other cars I have owned, no damage seems to have been inflicted.
There is much less, if any, sensation of pressure on my hand from the indicator stalk on modern cars while straightening the wheel. So I suspect the cancellation is either achieved magnetically or the mechanics are much more robust.

Incidentally, I don't often hold the stalk down but there are a couple of odd junctions near home where cancelling can give the wrong impression to oncoming traffic.

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