Ask a Mechanic: How do I fix flashers that intermittently fail?

In today’s column we discuss how to go about a problem that only happens periodically.

By Nida Zafar Wheels.ca

Oct 30, 2021 2 min. read

Article was updated 2 years ago

Join the Conversation (0)
Every week, we take your questions about what is going on under the hood of your vehicle and
pose them to a knowledgeable mechanic in the Greater Toronto Area. In today’s column we discuss how to go about a problem that only happens periodically.

Dear Ask a Mechanic,

I own a 2015 Buick Verano that I purchased new. One irritant is that the turn signals work intermittently. Sometimes they don't come on. Other times they come on and then stop and it seems to happen more often when turning right than left. My dealership couldn’t offer a solution because the problem is intermittent and they claimed to have no bulletins about such a problem. Unfortunately, I did not pursue the problem as diligently as I should have while the vehicle was under warranty. Can you offer a possible solution, and an approximate cost? – Fitfully fed up

“Intermittent problems are the ultimate nightmare for every customer and technician,” Robert Lirette, a professor of automotive technology at Centennial College, said. The very first step for diagnosing an issue is to verify that there is an issue. For something that only happens intermittently, completing that step becomes difficult, and can consume a lot of time and money. Lirette explains he always completes a test drive with the customer in situations like this. If the problem isn’t exhibiting itself, he has the customer explain it to him. Lirette said technicians also have access to TSBs (technical service bulletins) that talk about repeat problems in certain vehicles. Given no bulletins exist in this situation, he believes the problem could be related to the climate, and environmental data should be collected to examine if the problem happens when the vehicle is hot or cold, during the day or night, and if other environmental related factors are involved. Sharing a final cost to fix the problem would be difficult without a proper diagnosis, Lirette says, and recommends the driver have the vehicle examined by a trusted technician.

Ask a Mechanic is written by Nida Zafar, a reporter who grew up in a house full of mechanics in Scarborough, and occasionally poses your questions to her dad or brother. You can send your questions to wheels@thestar.ca. These answers are for informational purposes only. Please consult a certified mechanic before having any work done to your vehicle.




More from Wheels & Partners