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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-19-2018, 09:09 PM Thread Starter
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Turn Signal Only Work Intermittently

Hi, I have an 89 Cougar with the 3.8 n/a and 185K miles on it, its my daily driver. I've replaced just about everything on this car over the years including the head gasket in 2015. Lately my turn signals only come on some of the time. Either they both with work or neither of them will work. I took the multifunction switch apart and cleaned the contacts with a pencil eraser but that didnt help. When I put it back in it still does the same thing. One thing I noticed is that if theyre not working, I can bang on the steering column and theyll start working again so I assume its a loose connection, either in the switch contacts or the electrical connectors themselves. Just thought I'd see if anyone on here has had this same issue or has any ideas. I also thought I'd let you guys know that there are still a few of these cars banging around as daily drivers. It's sad for me to come on this site and not see posts for several days. I hate the idea of these cars dying out. Ill always hate ford for their late 90s money grubbing antics of killing off the mn12 and switching all to suv crap. Im a ford guy but ford gives us plenty of reason to hate them. Anyways, rant over. Just thought I'd ask about the turn signal issue, the mfs is such a complex thing Im kindof leary of taking it apart again. Thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-19-2018, 09:18 PM
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Immediately upon reading the thread title I figured it was an MFS issue, and I see you say you've already cleaned it. Do the hazards work when the turn signals don't?

I vaguely recall having read a few years ago that another member was having weird MFS related problems as well, but for them replacing was the fix (and cleaning had no effect). Just something to consider.

One other thing that could be checked is the connection to the flasher - if that's intermittent I could see how the turn signals or hazards wouldn't work all the time.

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-19-2018, 09:26 PM Thread Starter
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Immediately upon reading the thread title I figured it was an MFS issue, and I see you say you've already cleaned it. Do the hazards work when the turn signals don't?

I vaguely recall having read a few years ago that another member was having weird MFS related problems as well, but for them replacing was the fix (and cleaning had no effect). Just something to consider.

One other thing that could be checked is the connection to the flasher - if that's intermittent I could see how the turn signals or hazards wouldn't work all the time.
Thanks for the quick response, yes the hazards work even when the turn signals don't. I drove around one night until the turn signals stopped working, stopped the car, and then tried the hazards and they worked fine. Then tried the turn signals and they still didnt work. They stop and start working when I drive over bumps or bang on the steering column area, thats what made me think its localized to the mfs area, either the switch itself or the connectors, but I could be wrong. Where is the flasher located on this car?
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-19-2018, 09:31 PM
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It's been some 10 years since I messed with it (or payed attention to it, lol) so I can't recall precisely where - and I don't know for certain if it's the same on the gen1 as it is on the gen2, but it's on the left side of the dash, towards the bottom. I seem to recall being able to get at it by dropping the lower steering column cover.

But your description of what you did to isolate hazards/turn signals is exactly what I would have done. Based on that, it's probably the MFS being worn out internally. I'd bet a new one would cure the issue, but unfortunately I can't be the one to decide for you if that's the next best step. Do you have the EVTM for your car? It details where the dash splices and such are - there is a possibility one of the pins in a connector is flaky and re-seating it could help. Darn, these cars are coming up on 30 years old now...

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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-19-2018, 10:02 PM Thread Starter
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It's been some 10 years since I messed with it (or payed attention to it, lol) so I can't recall precisely where - and I don't know for certain if it's the same on the gen1 as it is on the gen2, but it's on the left side of the dash, towards the bottom. I seem to recall being able to get at it by dropping the lower steering column cover.

But your description of what you did to isolate hazards/turn signals is exactly what I would have done. Based on that, it's probably the MFS being worn out internally. I'd bet a new one would cure the issue, but unfortunately I can't be the one to decide for you if that's the next best step. Do you have the EVTM for your car? It details where the dash splices and such are - there is a possibility one of the pins in a connector is flaky and re-seating it could help. Darn, these cars are coming up on 30 years old now...
Yeah I know, not sure what the build date is on mine but Im guessing 1988? So yeah probably 30 years this year. Im in Iowa and this has been my daily for 6 1/2 years, unfortunately the rust is whatll kill this car, not sure what they use in ohio but they spray some liquid salt crap on our roads all winter. I just pulled a 12"x4" piece of rusted metal off the driverside rocker a couple weeks ago lol, I heard something scraping on the tire, glad it didnt pop it or something. Its a shame because I expect the engine to go another 160K on the updated head gaskets I put in a couple years ago haha. Its my first car I bought when I was 18 and Im almost 25 now, sad to see it waste away but thats car life here in the midwest. One day Ill buy another one from the south with no rust.
Your tbird is pretty sweet, I watched your 1/4 mile video. I remember thinking those 15 vettes looked like ferraris when they first came out so it was pretty cool to see your tbird hold its own against something that exotic looking. In a 1/8 race it wouldve been pretty close I think. My ultimate sleeper build would be a cougar like mine with either a 351w or 460 under the hood, I dont have the money for that now but maybe someday. Anyways I looked in my haynes manual and the flasher is on the right side of the steering column supposedly. Im gonna go drive it around a bit and do some more poking around and see if I cant figure anything out. Ill let you know either way. Thanks for the help, youve given me some more ideas to go off of.
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-19-2018, 11:06 PM Thread Starter
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It's been some 10 years since I messed with it (or payed attention to it, lol) so I can't recall precisely where - and I don't know for certain if it's the same on the gen1 as it is on the gen2, but it's on the left side of the dash, towards the bottom. I seem to recall being able to get at it by dropping the lower steering column cover.

But your description of what you did to isolate hazards/turn signals is exactly what I would have done. Based on that, it's probably the MFS being worn out internally. I'd bet a new one would cure the issue, but unfortunately I can't be the one to decide for you if that's the next best step. Do you have the EVTM for your car? It details where the dash splices and such are - there is a possibility one of the pins in a connector is flaky and re-seating it could help. Darn, these cars are coming up on 30 years old now...
Well I tried to investigate it further but I couldn't get it to not work lol. So I juts left the cover off and Ill just wait for it to act up again while Im driving it regularly. Thanks again for the help hopefully itll stop working long enough to try and diagnose it.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-20-2018, 03:35 PM
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I don't know about an 89, but on my 70 Cougar banging on the steering column is a good way to diagnose turn signal switch problems.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-20-2018, 04:30 PM
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There is one more possibility ... I was having trouble with turn signals, even swapped the MFS, but still had intermittent flashing.

Turns out my flasher module was failing.

I changed the connector to match the EP27 LED compatible flasher module; haven't had a lick of trouble since, even with LEDs all four corners.

RwP

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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-21-2018, 11:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbocarrey View Post
Hi, I have an 89 Cougar with the 3.8 n/a and 185K miles on it, its my daily driver. I've replaced just about everything on this car over the years including the head gasket in 2015. Lately my turn signals only come on some of the time. Either they both with work or neither of them will work. I took the multifunction switch apart and cleaned the contacts with a pencil eraser but that didnt help. When I put it back in it still does the same thing. One thing I noticed is that if theyre not working, I can bang on the steering column and theyll start working again so I assume its a loose connection, either in the switch contacts or the electrical connectors themselves. Just thought I'd see if anyone on here has had this same issue or has any ideas. I also thought I'd let you guys know that there are still a few of these cars banging around as daily drivers. It's sad for me to come on this site and not see posts for several days. I hate the idea of these cars dying out. Ill always hate ford for their late 90s money grubbing antics of killing off the mn12 and switching all to suv crap. Im a ford guy but ford gives us plenty of reason to hate them. Anyways, rant over. Just thought I'd ask about the turn signal issue, the mfs is such a complex thing Im kindof leary of taking it apart again. Thanks in advance!
first check bulbs and sockets and grounds. + try known good flasher there is a separate flasher for the 4 ways if the 4 ways work swap it out.

if that doesn't heal the problem the steering column has to come apart down to the signal coupler ,brass touch fingers are probably dirty and not making a conection.

drive fast!
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-21-2018, 01:04 PM Thread Starter
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If it was the flasher wouldn't the hazards stop working along with the turn signals? Like I said before, when the turn signals stop working, the hazards still work fine.
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-21-2018, 05:04 PM
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If it was the flasher wouldn't the hazards stop working along with the turn signals? Like I said before, when the turn signals stop working, the hazards still work fine.
Well, if they used the same wiring inside, yes.

But they're completely different flasher modules internally, they're just in a common housing.

That's like "But if my brake light burned out, why would the tail light still work?" due to the internal design and the wiring.

RwP

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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-21-2018, 06:13 PM
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If the MFS goes bad, the brake lights can quit working; I was surprized, and nearly ran over by a semi.

I now look behind me when I start the car, and make sure they're on before I leave.

"Trust, but Verify", as Reagan stole from Lenin, lol.

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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-21-2018, 08:59 PM Thread Starter
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Well, if they used the same wiring inside, yes.

But they're completely different flasher modules internally, they're just in a common housing.

That's like "But if my brake light burned out, why would the tail light still work?" due to the internal design and the wiring.

RwP
OK didn't realize they were that complex, I'll try and locate it
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-21-2018, 09:01 PM Thread Starter
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If the MFS goes bad, the brake lights can quit working; I was surprized, and nearly ran over by a semi.

I now look behind me when I start the car, and make sure they're on before I leave.

"Trust, but Verify", as Reagan stole from Lenin, lol.
OK cool I'll check that too
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-09-2018, 04:08 AM Thread Starter
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Well everyone I finally figured out the problem, it's the flasher unit. It worked fine for a couple weeks after I posted this question but then starting acting up again in the past few days and I noticed that I could get it to work by lightly flicking the flasher. So I'll have to get a new one. Thanks to everyone who took time to respond, I really appreciate it. I had overlooked the flasher because I figured that the hazards wouldn't work of the signals weren't working but that's not the case. Thanks again!

Regards,
Alex
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post #16 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-09-2018, 07:05 AM
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Congratulations!

I was just going over my maintenance records, found many years ago, before I invested in the Ford Repair Manual, I brought my 95 to the Ford dealer for similar intermittent turn signal problems. They replaced the MFS for $300, problem persisted. I brought it back, then they replaced the relay and fixed the problem, no charge. Bought the Ford Service Manual shortly after that!
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