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Help! 1981 Turn Signal Flasher Causes Voltmeter to 'Tick'


New member
May 21, 2020
Phoenix, AZ
1981 4-speed; 1982 Auto
Hello to all - would really appreciate some input on this issue. I have been working this issue for months.
Every time I use the turn signals (left or right) or push the hazard switch - the voltmeter 'ticks' in sync with the flasher as if the flasher is drawing additional current.
I have done the following:
  1. Removed and cleaned all grounds for the Hazard and Turn Signal system per the AIM diagram in Chapter 8. I went further and cleaned any/all grounds I could locate on the car. I can't find the one on the 'center bumper frame support' that is listed in the manual.
  2. Replaced both the hazard fuse and the Turn Signal fuse; checked voltage at fuse - 12 volts at fuse. Replaced gauges fuse for another issue.
  3. Removed turn signal/hazard connector under steering column; cleaned contacts with brush and contact cleaner - good voltage; ground I believe is through the instrument panel ground on left pillar above light switch. Already removed/cleaned that ground.
  4. Removed a ground that is installed on the alternator (separate from the charge ground). This ground is listed in the manual. I ran it separately to the frame - no help.
  5. Removed and installed new turn signal flasher. Did not remove and install new hazard flasher
  6. Capacitor for the turn signal flasher is missing and I do have synced 'ticks' when tuned to AM radio; I have searched up/down for the capacitor on ebay, online, etc. - can't find it: Update: swapped capacitor and flasher from my 82 - no help
  7. Update: removed and inspected all turn signal bulbs and sockets. Tested individually - all good

Any help is much appreciated!
Last edited:
Since you have checked your grounds did you clean the battery cables too? Have you had your battery load tested? Also have you checked the alternator output? Does it move the same or more when you turn on the headlights? How about when you step on the brakes? Some movement is common but not a large swing.

Thank you Tom. I failed to mention that it's a new alternator and the same occurred with the old alternator. Headlights and brake lights cause the normal load you would see/small drop in voltage. I've compared all this to my 82 vette. The battery was in the car when I bought it and I have not load tested. I have removed the cables and ensured good/clean contact. Frame/battery ground I removed and cleaned real solid. I'm trying to isolate to what is common between the Turn Signal and Hazard wiring...at least that's the rabbit hole for now :) - I haven't removed each turn light individually. Maybe do that next? Could a high resistance in a bulb socket cause it to draw THAT much more current?
It would probably be a good idea to check the bulb sockets for corrosion.
It would probably be a good idea to check the bulb sockets for corrosion.

Yes, corrosion can be an issue on old cars. Some leave the windows down, top down in the summer, but the night moisture can get into the interior electronics. I had a cig lighter that was too rusty to get any contact, so I replaced it. Moisture.

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