loading
Picture of Fix Psychotic Grand Am Signal Clicking
I have a 2001 Pontiac Grand Am.  About 5 years ago while driving down the road, the clicking noise, associated with the signal light and hazards, went psychotic.  I panicked because I thought the lights were also activated.  Nope, just the awful noise and about 2x faster than normal.  My nerves didn't last long and I took the car to the dealership.  About an hour later, they came out and said that it was fixed and the part was recalled.  I didn't pay a penny!  Whoo hoo!

About a year ago, the clicking returned.  Although annoying, it wasn't nearly as bad but I called the dealership again.  They said that the sound was NOT the same as before (they must be really good to know this over the phone) and that the fix would cost over $300.  No, thanks.  I'll pass and deal with the noise.  (PS. Don't do that with every noise.)  Soon after, I wasn't having any problems.

Fast forward to about a month ago and it went nuts again.  I decided that I was going to tackle the job of fixing it.  Could I afford to pay the dealership?  Probably.  Two reasons why I won't though.  #1 - I don't believe that it isn't the same part.  #2 - I am female!  Hear me roar!  I told myself that I could do it so I set out researching the problem.

In my FIRST instructable, I will show you what to do to rule out the easy fix.  DO NOT be intimidated.  Yes, I am technically and mechanically inclined but I would not have attempted this if I thought there was any way I could screw it up.  I also watched the following videos at least three times each and used auto websites through the library to get diagrams.  The diagrams are actually what gave me the idea to write this instructable.  They suck.  If you don't already know what you're looking at, they are not much help.  If you do know what the diagrams cover, you probably don't even need them.

Thank you SO much to these guys who helped me get through this.  I just wanted to share more details and simplified instructions for those who want to try to fix their own car.  This process should work with multiple years of Grand Am productions.  If anyone knows exactly, please let me know.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5g-1UkGFJA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPTkLD2JR9Q
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Picture of Materials and Tools
In addition to what is in the photo, I used a flat-head screwdriver in a step towards the end.

Ratchet Set - $12.  I needed it anyway.  Time to get rid of my old, chewed up set.  I hope the puppy enjoyed that...
8mm Socket - Came with my set.
T25 and T10 - Also in the set.  SCORE!
Cotton swabs
Dielectric grease.

Step 2: Prep and removing steering wheel cover.

Picture of Prep and removing steering wheel cover.
My apologies to any mechanics who know the actual names of these parts. Frankly, if you are an actual mechanic I don’t know why you’d be reading this. That's one reason why you do what you do. I'm going to purposely use layman and sometimes made up terms. Either way, you'll know what I'm talking about. I will also probably over-use emoticons, commas and ellipsis.

I ALWAYS engage the parking brake no matter what I’m doing.  It doesn’t hurt anything and it gets you in the habit of doing it since it’s required for changing tires or putting the car on ramps for an oil change.  Until now, these things are about all I’ve done myself.
Remove the NEGATIVE side of your car battery.  This is a very important step.  You will see later that you are working very close to some electronics and I’m sure you don’t want to be eating an airbag.  (Snack before starting this job.)

Step 3: Remove top cover.

Picture of Remove top cover.
IMAG2655.jpg
If you have plump legs like I do, get in the car first and then put the steering wheel all the way down.

You will need to place one or two fingers under the top cover. Hmmm...OH!  Back to the instructions.  Use the open space above the turn signal and wiper levers. I had to pull up with a good amount of force. Don't be surprised if you jump because it pops off unexpectedly.

I've spent the last 8 years delicately accessorizing my car with the lovely dirt you see.  Don't disregard it...relish it.

Step 4: Torx removal.

Picture of Torx removal.
Now that you can see the guts of your steering wheel, remove this one Torx thingymabob using the T25 bit.

Step 5: Unclip wiring groups.

Picture of Unclip wiring groups.
IMAG2658.jpg
IMAG2659.jpg
IMAG2660.jpg
IMAG2661.jpg
IMAG2663.jpg
Next, there are three different electrical sets of wires.  Each one has a different kind of clip and are located in different areas.  You shouldn't worry about mixing them up.  There is one on top, one on the right side and the one on the left should be last because you might need to pull the section up a little to get to it.  When I had all three unplugged, it still wouldn't pull up and out.  I ended up finding a plastic piece on the side that I pulled forward a little and that released it.  It may just be a fluke with mine.

Step 6: Removing signal side Torx.

Picture of Removing signal side Torx.
If you are correct-handed AKA right-handed, you will need to turn this assembly around so that the turn signal lever is on your right side.  Lefties, sorry but figure that one out on your own.  Whatever works best.

You will find four more Torx thingymajigs.  These are the ones in which you need the T10 bit.  You should be able to remove them with no special extensions.  If you have a magnetic tray, it would come in handy for small parts like these.  I just used the grooves in the passenger seat to keep track of everything.

You do not need to and SHOULD NOT take apart this whole assembly.  The very nice people I learned from have stated that there are springs in the other side.  Just be very careful not to pull apart the right side too far.  It will snap in two.

Step 7: Clean the probes!

Picture of Clean the probes!
IMAG2668.jpg
IMAG2676.jpg
IMAG2677.jpg
IMAG2685.jpg
IMAG2678.jpg
Next, you will need to look for what I will refer to as the copper probes.  Normally, these would not fit my description of "probes" but that word makes me chuckle.  "She said you offered to show her your Probe!"  As you can see in the photo, the lube on my probes was quite dirty.  Probably from all the action it's gotten in the last 8 years.

At this point, take your cotton tipped sticks and carefully clean all that nastiness off of both the probes.  Try not to leave cotton threads in or around it.  When it is cleaned, the probes should sparkle and look new.  All better!

I couldn't get a really good pic of the metal shavings I found on the cotton swabs but there were two good sized ones.  These and the dirt are probably the culprits of my psychotic clicking noise.

Step 8: Relube the probes.

Picture of Relube the probes.
IMAG2680.jpg
Squeeze a little bit of the dielectric grease (you so confidently bought from Big Hoss at the auto store) on a CLEAN cotton swab.  Spread it around on both probes to insure ultimate lube coverage.  When you think you have enough to help prevent probe friction, put the small Torx thingymabobbers back.

Step 9: Assembling the assembly :P

Picture of Assembling the assembly  :P
IMAG2682.jpg
At this point, you need to place the assembly back on top of the steering wheel.  Line it up but DO NOT FORCE IT.  There are 1-2 pins that need to be pushed in.  They contact the back disk to operate the horn.  If you disregard this, you will damage one or more parts.  This is also where you get close to the airbag doowappies.  I hope you unhooked the battery!  (((I am now told by a lovely commenter that the airbags could still engage.  Sooo, be very careful when working around the disks!)))

This is a good time to snap the left wiring group back to the assembly.

Use a flat-head screwdriver or something similar to push the pins back out of the way.  You need to be pushing the assembly down in to place at the same time.  It was kinda tricky.  You might wrap painters or duct tape on the end of the screwdriver to keep it from slipping off of the pins.  Again, I had to jimmy the little plastic piece and the assembly should drop right back in where it goes.

Step 10: Finish up with reassembly.

Picture of Finish up with reassembly.
IMAG2655.jpg
Clip the two other wiring groups back in to the assembly and secure the assembly with the T25 Torx thingy.  At this point, I hooked the battery back up and checked to see if the signal lights and horn worked.  Success so far!  Some of the videos said to check the turn signal cancel by turning the wheel but unless the car is in the air or you are on slick ground, you can't...at least I couldn't on the cement drive.

Place the top cover back on the steering wheel by hooking the back first and then pressing down on the front to snap it back on.

TA-DA!

Now...for reality.  When I tried the signal lights to make sure they worked, the clicking went psycho.  "DAMN IT ALL TO HELL!"  So I thought, well, I took the plunge and I didn't break anything so I still saw it as a success and it ruled out that as a problem...

BUT after a few times of using the signal lights on the road, it no longer clicks sporadically.  Why do I think it happened like this?  Well, I think the universe finally decided to give me a break.  I also think that the probes just needed to get used to the new lube and they are happy now.

I hope this helps SOMEONE and at some point it will be outdated but I thought it might come in handy to have detailed photos and it was a good subject to use for my first INSTRUCTABLE!

What is next?  Replacing my girlfriend's inside and outside door handles I broke.  Guess I don't know my own strength.

If you see something I missed, please let me know.  I know there will be that one...or two who won't be satisfied with my instructions but if you are tackling this project and have true questions, "goat head" and ask me!  Thanks for stopping by and being patient!
KBFlint6 months ago

Thank you so much - your easy to understand instructable along with the linked youtube videos were all I needed to fix the insanely annoying clicking sound in my car. Hopefully the fix will last for awhile. If not then I'll just purchase a new combination switch and try that - and thanks to your information I'll be able to do that myself as well! Thanks!

On several Fords I've owned, when the blinker noise goes psycho fast it means the turn signal bulb is burned out and needs to be replaced.

Squash (author)  buildandsewandstuff9 months ago

Well, this was very sporadic and that's the first thing I checked. It was still working. I inherited my mom's car so I'm no longer dealing with the surprise noise. The next person can figure that out. Good idea though!

jjcarguy1 year ago

Realize this is a late reply to this post, but may help. ON 1999 Grand Am, there is a removable tab(fuse link, or whatever it may be called) in the drivers side fuse panel on the side of the dash. This is supposed to disable the airbag. Unhook the battery first, of course.

Had a 1999 GA, and had the same problem. Replaced the hazard switch, no luck. Narrowed it down to the "combination switch" as the turn signal unit is called, in a similar manner as GarageGuru, but never got around to fixing it before the motor had problems and I sold it, lol. If I ever have another one, or know someone that has the same issue, I know how to fix it without spending money on a new unit.

Thank you for a very good and enjoyable post.

Squash (author)  jjcarguy1 year ago

Never too late to add tips! Unfortunately, the sound returned and hasn't stopped. It is moody because it will go away for a few weeks but return. I'm in search for a newer car except v---dmensionz never offered to get me one so I guess I'm on my own. It's just time. There are tons of little things going wrong and need to be replaced.

I wouldn't mind looking in to the combination switch problem if it's not too expensive or hard to do. It would be nice to not have a crazy turn signal noise when getting rid of the car.

Thanks for reading and glad you enjoyed it!

Sounds like my car when I got rid of it. The only window regulator that still worked right was the front passenger. The bearing was out on the AC compressor, Had replaced one fuel injector, one coil and the coil holder, and the fuel pressure regulator, as well as tracking down a mysterious vacuum leak. It also needed new tires($400 around here for the proper size at the time. So when the water pump went out, and I was going to have to pull half the engine apart to replace it, was time to sell. The buyer never said anything about the noise after it was sold, but I warned him of it and told him what I thought it was, so it may be clicking away as I write this. ;-)

Squash (author)  jjcarguy1 year ago

LOL. Wow. Well, when I first bought it, I bought the warranty as well. About 2 years in, something in the fuel system went out and it was over $800 to fix so I charged it. Found out later that the warranty company had gone bankrupt and didn't notify anyone. The dealership didn't even let me know but they were honoring the warranty work, except that I had moved and took it to a different dealership. After a class action suit, I got a whole $300 back. Other than that I haven't had much issues. The passenger rearview has cracked off twice because of someone hitting it. The defrost vent is old, warped and cracking. The vent selection knob is broken. The driver's window is making a popping noise when it gets to the top. The air hasn't worked for a few years because I think someone overfilled the Freon. Ugh. Tiny things but all together they are a pain. It's an '01 and I'm finally ready for something new. I love the car though. Too bad they aren't making it anymore.

If you have any suggestions on trucks, I'd take them! I really want to go back to Nissan. My first car was old but dependable and no major issues. I was looking at the Frontier and Titan but also looking at the Toyota Tacoma and Dodge Dakota. Smaller trucks preferably with a back seat. I've done some research but input is always good.

Bought mine used, out of warranty. Had about 95,000 miles on it, so thought it was a good risk. Had for enough years, that it was a very good buy. Really liked it, as well. Another reason I decided to sell, was I developed arthritis in my hip, and was getting hard to get in and out of every day.

As far as trucks go, have not had any personal experience with the models you mentioned, but have heard some things you may be interested in knowing.

Heard no real complaints about the Frontier or Titan(am sure someone will read this and give you a horror story or two, :-)

The Tacoma has been said to be uncomfortable on long trips by several people I know, but no complaints about the reliability.

The Dakota I have always liked, but never have owned one. Only caveats are the automatic transmission. Some don't last very long, while others seem to go forever, but on Craigslist in OK, there a quite a few for sale with bad trannies. Standards seem to hold up fine. And the other thing is the V6 engine. Seems reliable enough, but the gas mileage is so close to the V8 option, you may be better off finding one instead. Four cylinder seems to be okay from what I've heard.

Hope that helps. :-)

Squash (author)  jjcarguy1 year ago

Thanks for the tips!

dmensionz1 year ago
The easiest fix would be to take this heep to the dumpster
Squash (author)  dmensionz1 year ago
The first day as an Instructable member and you are already trolling? I happen to love my "heep" or as others spell it "heap". The 30 minutes, $1.36 and satisfaction of fixing the problem outweighs the cost of a new car. If you have any positive or constructive comments (per policy), feel free to respond. OR if you want to buy me a new car, I'd accept that option, also, and let you have the satisfaction of taking my heap to the dumpster.
steampsycho2 years ago
Good to know. My wiper switch is going out, and my right blinker does the doubletime click thing, so I might try cleaning it out while I'm in there.
Squash (author)  steampsycho2 years ago
Might as well! Good luck with it. Thanks for checking out my page.
Or if you didn't like someone you could just lock them in the car with the crazy clicker on! They wont be half as annoying after you let them out!

>:D. Muhahaha!
Squash (author)  nerfrocketeer2 years ago
Hmmm...maybe next time. Lol.
Great ible btw! Good job!
Squash (author)  nerfrocketeer2 years ago
Thank you!
Great first instructable! One thing though disconnecting the battery doesn't disable a cars airbags, they have a seperate rechargeable battery and could still activate! I really liked the bit about "impressing Big Hoss" at the auto parts store that made me laugh! (I work pt in an auto parts store)
Squash (author)  BilltheCatACK2 years ago
Thanks for the information. I'm just going by a collection of information I've found. I will check in to that! Glad you appreciated my auto parts store experience. I should give a shout out to the Advance Auto employees on Noland Rd in Independence, MO. Although our interaction was brief, they were very nice and multitasked to help everyone.
Drakekay2 years ago
Fantastic! The first car I ever owned, Ford Fiesta, had a broken turn signal switch. I learned all about those pesky probes and how the whole switch itself functions before replacing that stupid part. Wish my fix was as easy as yours. If I remember correctly the plastic chassis for the turn signal switch had separated at a rivet, causing the awkward switching mechanism to come out of its path along the probes.
Squash (author)  Drakekay2 years ago
Thank you!
GarageGuru2 years ago
Nice work! I have the same problem with my 2000 Blazer, and I've always been suspicious of the turn signal switch causing it. I'm able to get mine from making the turn signal noise by gently either lifting or pushing down on the lever, almost to the point where I would activate the turn signal as if I were to pass someone. And whenever I applied the brakes, the noise would always stop. More instructions should include double entendres like yours ;)
Squash (author)  GarageGuru2 years ago
Thank you for the encouragement!
IF you let them out...