Grand Am turn signals not working SOLUTION

I have a 2002 Pontiac Grand Am.  In September 2007, the turn signals/flashers would intermittently stop working.  We figured out that if you hit the hazards button, the turn signals would work again.  In June 2008, the “hazards button” method would not always work, thus creating a “hazardous” situation for the driver and other cars.  My mechanic and I were having difficulty figuring out where the flasher relay was, so I went online to try to get some advice.  I turns out that many, many Grand Am owners from 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 had this exact problem.  GM even offered to fix the problem for free for SOME owners:

2000-2001 Grand Am, Oldsmobile Alero, Chevrolet Malibu

1999-2000 Grand Am, Oldsmobile Alero, Chevrolet Malibu

The problem is that many owners have found that in those years, their car “isn’t in the VIN range,” even though it has the same problem.

BOTTOM LINE: GM knows about this dangerous situation and is not doing anything about it.  They know that those models have a problem and talk to any dealer — they fix it all the time.  GM is culpable for all accidents that occur because of this problem.  They decided they would fix as little cars as possible.

If you have this problem, call these numbers and report it (have your VIN ready)!

CHEVROLET AT 1-800-630-2438, PONTIAC AT 1-800-620-7668, OR OLDSMOBILE AT 1-800-630-6537 to see if your car will be fixed for free — if not, complain to them.

NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION’S AUTO SAFETY HOTLINE AT 1-888-DASH-2-DOT (1-888-327-4236).

(Thanks Grand Am Owners Forum)

As a benefit to all owners of these cars, I have posted below instructions on how to fix this problem, since I couldn’t find any help anywhere.  I’m sure there are easier ways to do things; I had to figure it out.  Please comment below with tips and I’ll modify my instructions if appropriate.

These instructions are for turn signals not working intermittently.  There is another common problems where turn signals don’t turn off right away — that’s a different problem, but may be worth trying this because it is cheap!

TOOLS: flat head screwdriver, 7 MM socket

1. Visit your local GM dealer (doesn’t have to be Pontiac) and ask for a Hazard Switch for your car (this is the button you press to turn on your hazards).  They will probably know all about your problem.  Don’t be afraid to ask for the part at cost since this should have been a recall.  I got mine for $19:

2. I started with popping out the ignition ring. (Tip from George T in the comments: Don’t use a screw driver to remove the ring around the ignition switch, just pull the bezel with even force and it will remove it without damage.)

Sorry, my picture is bad, but I think you need to gently get pressure with a flat screwdriver to pry it out.  If you don’t do this first, you’ll see what happens — it gets broken:

3.  Next you need to pry off the bezel over the whole center console area.  I put my screwdriver to the right of the radio.  Once I could fit my fingers under the right side of the cover, I firmed pulled and the cover comes off:

4. Once I pulled the cover off, I put in the key, turned the ignition to on, put the car in Neutral and was able to pull out the console cover better:

5. Obviously, behind where the hazard button is located, is what we need to remove.  Start by unclipping the wire.  You need to push in the clip on the left and right side — enough to push the whole part back through the front, but we’ll do that after we remove in inner cover.

6. To take the whole cover off, remove the wires from the ETS button and cigarette lighter.

7. Now get yourself a 7 MM socket to remove the inner cover.  There are three screws holding it in (only 2 shown):

8. Your next job is to push in the two nubs holding the flasher in place, while pushing the whole part back through the front:

9. I had a difficult time doing this.  Many of you will think it’s easy, but I just could not get it to come out.  The black plastic is fragile — avoid breaking it.  The green plastic is fine to break, so maybe a tool to push both sides in at the same time would be best.  (Tip from Jim K in the comments: In order to squeeze the side tabs of the hazard switch to slide it out of the bracket, I taped a ¼” nut on each jaw of my channel locks, and squeezed directly behind the tabs because I couldn’t get a good grip on the tabs themself. Please read on as to why I didn’t want to break it out.) Here’s what things looks like when I finally got it:

10. You should be able to handle the rest yourself, just go backwards of the above steps.

Now a much happier car!

If your turn signal still isn’t working properly, the other big problem I read about is the multi-function switch in the steering column (attached to the turn signal stalk).  That’s much more expensive and I haven’t done it…yet!  The primary symptom of the other problem is that the flasher noise continues even after the turn signal turns off.  This website has some instructions and pictures.

Jim Kjendalen emailed me with these helpful thoughts on why this is happening:

I looked at the data sheet for the IC in the flasher. It looks like the only way for the “flasher” to activate & click, is to see a low impedance or ground on pin 8 of the IC. Crud on the steering column [multi-function switch] as described earlier, can definitely cause this.

I would “hazard” a guess, :) that what’s burning up the flasher module is the extra blinking that is occurring. Each time you hear a click, the relay contacts are opening & closing. Mechanical relays like these have a fixed life span of so many open/close cycles after which they just wear out. Driving around with the relay clicking for hours/hours is shortening the life dramatically.

In short, I don’t think the crud itself is destroying the IC, but the excess clicking is likely wearing out the mechanical relay in the module prematurely. If you fix the steering column crud as soon as you start to hear the unwanted clicking, you probably won’t need to replace the relay.

link to the 8 pin IC http://www.atmel.com/Images/doc4726.pdf

 

[UPDATE 7/10] My car has been getting worse and worse with the turn signal clicking continuing, even with not having the turn signal on.  It is usually in the morning, and it goes away after a few minutes.  However, today it kept doing it for about 45 minutes straight!  I’m wondering whether this multi-function switch problem is actually the reason why the flasher goes bad…

[UPDATE 9/11] My turn signal is making a clicking noise again at random times… I’m going to have to mess with that multi-function switch soon it seems. With 22,000+ visits to this post since June 2008, this is no small problem..

[UPDATE 4/12] Bye bye, Grand Am. Who knows, maybe the next owner will end up reading this very page!

 

“Preparing to Install” Fix — Windows Update in Vista

I’ve been working most of the day on a laptop that I just cannot get the Windows Updates to install.  A while ago, it received the dreaded “Configuring updates: Stage 3 of 3 – 0% complete.  Do not turn off your computer” with a continuous reboot after an automatic update.  See here for more info.  I did the workaround for that (no thanks for Microsoft).

Now, it had error 8000FFFF.  Thanks to nskillen here, I fixed that, but Windows Update would just have “Preparing to Install..” but would never work.

So, my answer was to install this update from Microsoft.  This 937287 update, I believe, is a fixed version of the update that failed in the beginning.  In fact, here is a paragraph from the end of the instructions on how to fix your computer during the Stage 3 of 3 – 0% problem:

To avoid this problem, obtain and install update 937287 from the Microsoft Download Center separately from all other updates on Windows Update site. Install the update that applies to your version of Windows Vista to enable future updates to be installed successfully.