I have been having this weird problem recently:

Sometimes when I drive, the right turn signal indicator on the dashboard will be on solid. The turn signal itself won't be on, just the indicator is on. If I use the right turn signal, the indicator will blink as usual, but then when I turn it off, the indicator will glow faintly and then gradually brighten to be on solid. Also, it is apparent that on drives when this problem occurs, when I use the right turn signal it blinks much more slowly than the left turn signal does.

Other times when I turn the car on, the indicator stays off and everything seems normal. I haven't found any correlation with any of the other settings for my lights or display brightness or anything.

This is a 1996 Oldsmobile 88. Obviously, something in the circuitry is going bad, but any clues exactly what might be wrong?

  • I believe GM cars used a ground to close circuit instead of applying power to the circuit to light the bulb. If this is the case, you could have a place after the bulb which is grounding, causing the bulbs to light (both interior and exterior). I don't remember which GM cars did this (could be all of them), but this could very well be your case. Mar 29, 2017 at 20:07

3 Answers 3


It sounds like you could have a faulty turn signal relay. A relay is a piece of electronics which flashes the light on demand. They are generally cheap and easy to replace, so I would start there. If that doesn't solve it you could have a connectivity problem in the wiring which would need to be traced.

It could be the relay has some sort of contamination on its contacts rather than being faulty, it is worth pulling it, cleaning the contacts, then re-inserting it to see if that improves things.

  • Relays are not necessarily solid state. Some relays are solid state, but most aren't.
    – Ives
    Mar 31, 2017 at 9:54

Have you checked the bulbs in the turn signal lamps? Depending on the design of the flasher unit, one or more failed bulbs might mean there isn't enough current flowing to make the relay operate, and so it won't flash. (newer solid-state designs will flash much faster when a bulb has failed)

  • Yes, I have checked that all four lamps are working.
    – Jeh
    Mar 29, 2017 at 14:45
  • In which case I will refer you to GdD's answer, which was going to be my next suggestion!
    – Nick C
    Mar 29, 2017 at 14:47
  • Non-solid state flashers can flash faster when a bulb is burned out too. They just use a heat-sensitive metal strip for switching off & on. The lower current draw causes it to switch slower.
    – Nick
    Mar 31, 2017 at 21:08

As it turns out, the bulb was fine, but the prongs had started to make poor contact with the socket. A little reworking and some electrical grease, and the problem was fixed.

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