The History Behind Blinker Fluid

blinker fluid meme
Source: Carthrottle

Blinker Fluid, alternatively known as headlight fluid is an imaginary material, that is said to be the fuel for the turn signal of cars. The turn signal, however, is using electricity, thus “blinker fluid” is an expression used to mock or highlight the ignorance of the novice car driver by the expert.

The search for blinker fluid is part of a bigger class of jokes called “fool’s errands.” These pranks are generally played by the experienced group on a novice and often send that person off on an impossible search. A well-known version is the “snipe hunt.” The joke has been around for a number of years. Looking at Google Trends, which tracks back to 2004, searches for “blinker fluid” on Google started to rise in 2016 and hit their peak in April 2017. It started to appear on as far back as 2005.

There are a few ways this prank is pulled. The most common way is to run someone on a “fool’s errand”. This is when someone is sent to search for some blinker fluid. Sending them to buy a specific amount like a quart, makes it even hilarious.

Another way this is prank is pulled is by gifting someone who bought a new car with some blinker fluid. If you are wondering how to buy something that does not exist, everything is on Amazon, and you can buy blinker fluid as well. Gifting someone with a bottle of blinker fluid or a coupon to buy some themselves is another funny gag.

The existence of blinker fluid is believable now more than ever

The Origin

Origin stories are not exactly accurate, in the case of this prank. But here is a possible origin.

In older cars, the seals around the headlights weren’t tight enough to keep water away. Even in some newer cars water seems to find its way inside the lights. So when water finds its way inside your light, it looks almost like a fish tank half full.

So as a joke people used to mention “You should think about topping off your fluids”. Similarly, when the water stays stagnant for years, it starts to turn green. When this happens, “Hey, you need to change the blinker fluid, it is turning green!”.

How To Remove Water From Your Lights

remove water from ligths
Source: Pholder

Water finding its way inside your lights is not that uncommon. It can be really unpleasant to see water shaking around your lights. You won’t be able to get the best out of your lights when it is submerged in water. If water is clogged in the rear brake lights, that can turn into a safety hazard. If the car behind you can not see that you are slowing down or stopping, a crash can be inevitable.

So how to get the water out of your lights? There is a belief that you would have to drill the outer shell to actually remove the water. In reality, it can end up doing more bad than good. Ther is a more practical and safe way to remove water from your headlights. The procedure doesn’t differ drastically between the different lights of your car.

A dirty headlight lens can dull the light cast by your headlight. So for your own safety, you need to get them cleaned.

Before getting started you should park your car in a secure space and turn off the engine. Follow this up by disconnecting your battery. This is done to ensure safety. Electricity and water do not go well together. To avoid getting shocked, it is best to neutralize the battery out of the equation.

All the lights are held up by screws. Removing them should allow you to disassemble the lights. If you are working on the headlights, you should be able to access them by pooping the hood. If you can’t find the path to access those screws, the owner’s manual will come in handy.

Now you should be able to disconnect the wiring that runs to the headlights. Keep in mind how it was assembled. You need to put it back together later. Taking a few pics could end up being a lifesaver.

Now you can remove the headlight lens from the assembly, releasing all the water. Use this opportunity to clean the lens.

Now all you have to do is put it all back together.


How Do Blinkers Work

Now that you know that blinkers are not powered by or require any fluid, how exactly does a blinker light work?

Just like any other light in your car such as the headlight or the brake lights the turn signals are just as important. They portray your intentions to turn, helping everyone around you to acknowledge that decision and drive safely. Whether you are changing lanes, turning a corner, or are pulling over, letting others know about your intentions, drastically reduces the possibility of an accident.

Turn signals require electrical power in order to illuminate the turn signal light bulbs. Just to emphasize, electricity, not blinker fluid. The circuit connecting the bulb and the power source goes through a switch. Every time you use the turn signal, the appropriate circuit is completed and the specific light illuminates.

Now the circuit is completed, we have to look into the blinking pattern. The rhythmic blinking is present to attract more attention to the light. Thus anyone will instantly notice when the turn signals are working.

This rhythmic blinking pattern is achieved by routing the power through a module that sends pulses of power to the lights instead of a steady stream. This is module is commonly referred to as a flasher.

When it’s time to switch off the turn signals the switch is closed, breaking the completer circuit. In most modern cars, the turn is automatically detected, and the circuit is broken. If not the process should be done manually.

If you want to know more about blinkers, or turn signals, how about visiting Maintenance Tips to read more interesting facts and ways to maintenance them?