How-To: Flakey Turn Signal Clicking Fix.

climbtheplanet

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 22, 2008
Location
Boulder, CO
TDI
2001 Golf
I had this same problem but did not want to mess around with my airbag (and did not have the money to pay someone to do it!) so I sprayed the turn signal stalk with electrical contact cleaner. I figured this would be better than WD-40 because it is what you would use to clean the connections anyway, it evaporates quickly, wont harm other plastics or connections and WD-40 can aid in attracting dirt and dust and this gumming up is the problem we are trying to fight (like why you use graphite in locks and not liquid lubricant. I sprayed a bunch where the stalk meets the column and made sure to do this with the stalk in all the positions it can be in (i.e. left and right turn, highbeams and highbeam flash). I let the contact cleaner evaporate for 15 or 20 minutes before switching on the ignition to avoid smoldering/setting it on fire. It has been a week or so and the problem seems to have gone away, and if it comes back I will try to "clean" it again in this manner. Thanks for all the advice!
 

rice rocketeer

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Jan 6, 2003
Location
Richmond B.C. Canada
TDI
2002 Golf 2dr 1 owner/driver car (only options is Cruz and A/C) 2014 Passat Highline
Just 3 days ago I used this stuff called "releasall" I bought from Canadian Tire. It was a instant fix as soon as I shot some in the turn signal stock in the parking lot. With the ignition off I clicked the signals left and right, front to back several times and was on my way. It says it's safe for electronics and (not to be a leaf licker or anything but...) It's non-toxic, biodegradable, non flammable and non chlorinated. I thought I'd better risk $5 than pay $250+taxes at VW for parts+labour. Not one random clicking sound yet. And mine was BAD! BTW. I did have the recall done on the flasher some time ago. It had nothing to do with it like I thought.

Merry Christmas and Happy New year to everyone!
 
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mrGutWrench

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Wallace, NC
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'03 Jetta Wagon
rice rocketeer said:
Just 3 days ago I used this stuff called "releasall" I bought from Canadian Tire. I was a instant fix as soon as I shot some in the turn signal stock in the parking lot. (snip)
__. That's good info, Rice. When I used WD40, it let a lot of smoke out!
 

rice rocketeer

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Location
Richmond B.C. Canada
TDI
2002 Golf 2dr 1 owner/driver car (only options is Cruz and A/C) 2014 Passat Highline
Smoke is good Mrgutwrench... only when it's coming off the tires and out the tail pipes of our TDI's :) I was going to use WD-40 too! Good thing! I walked into Canadian Tire to buy electrical contact cleaner but when they didn't have any in stock, a can of releasall (or the sweet release of death so I wouldn't have to hear that clicking sound anymore) was my only option. I never even heard of it before but the guy at the parts counter swore by it. He was right. It says "Works like magic" right on the can and it does!

It's a good thing we do have people like varkias on here to take the time, take pics, explain, and show us how to do things properly step by step too. With my luck... I just don't feel like catching a air bag in the nose at the moment (or ever).
 
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NarfBLAST

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Mar 3, 2002
Location
Waterdown, Ontario, Canada
TDI
2001 Golf 5MT
Releasall works like magic

rice rocketeer said:
Just 3 days ago I used this stuff called "releasall" I bought from Canadian Tire. I was a instant fix as soon as I shot some in the turn signal stock in the parking lot. With the ignition off I clicked the signals left and right, front to back sveral times and was on my way. It says it's safe for electronics and (not to be a leaf licker or anything but...) It's non-toxic, biodegradable, non flammable and non chlorinated. I thought I'd better risk $5 than pay $250+taxes at VW for parts+labour. Not one random clicking sound yet. And mine was BAD!
Awesome! I replaced my entire switch stalk with a used unit two years ago and about a month ago random clicking came back... I have a can of this stuff on my shelf will have to try it if clicking gets worse... right now I barely notice it... maybe I've lived with the clicking too long!

Hey you forgot to mention non ozone depleting and made in Canada since 1923!

I searched the can and the web and could not figure out what it is made of... possibly mineral oil?
 

ger164

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Nov 10, 2008
Location
blenheim
TDI
jetta tdi 2003 wagon
Great explanation Varkias, I am re-motivated to solve this issue.... thank you kindly....
 

Varkias

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Jan 22, 2006
Location
Turners Falls, MA
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'02 Golf TDI
Good luck! I hope it all goes well. Two years later and I still have not had another issue, so I'm pretty sure it works! ;)
 

stevneil

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Oct 4, 2004
Location
Phoenix, AZ
I concur with TornadoRed that this this turn signal dirty contacts problem can be pretty much corrected without any disassembly of the steering column whatsoever. I would add to his "Squirting some WD40 in the general direction of the turn signal mechanism" that it is possible to spray the fluid directly inside the turn signal lever switch.

I would also add that you want to have a straw on your WD40 can and direct the spray right into the small space where the moveable turn signal lever enters the mounted switch body.

Same technique could be applied to spraying some contact cleaner in there.

I also incorporated jbleu101's suggestion of using compressed air. And I did it after the WD40 and the blowback on my safety glasses was WD40 and some specks of gunk so that is a very good sign.

As a precaution, I did disconnect the negative voltage battery cable.
 
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puter

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Tacoma, Washington
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2002 Jetta GLS
stevneil said:
I concur with TornadoRed that this this turn signal dirty contacts problem can be pretty much corrected without any disassembly of the steering column whatsoever. I would add to his "Squirting some WD40 in the general direction of the turn signal mechanism" that it is possible to spray the fluid directly inside the turn signal lever switch.

I would also add that you want to have a straw on your WD40 can and direct the spray right into the small space where the moveable turn signal lever enters the mounted switch body.

Same technique could be applied to spraying some contact cleaner in there.

I also incorporated jbleu101's suggestion of using compressed air. And I did it after the WD40 and the blowback on my safety glasses was WD40 and some specks of gunk so that is a very good sign.

As a precaution, I did disconnect the negative voltage battery cable.
I don't think I would recommend spraying WD40 into the contact to clean it. WD40 is not meant for electrical contacts.

If you are going to take this approach I would highly suggest using De-Oxit which will help to remove corrosion and won't leave a petroleum residue.
 

TornadoRed

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puter said:
I don't think I would recommend spraying WD40 into the contact to clean it. WD40 is not meant for electrical contacts.

If you are going to take this approach I would highly suggest using De-Oxit which will help to remove corrosion and won't leave a petroleum residue.
As with duct tape and the vise grip wrench, there is no all-inclusive list of uses for WD-40.

Also, it is possible that a little lubrication supplied by the petroleum residue might be beneficial. Perhaps someone who has had a turn signal switch laid out on a work bench can offer better guidance in this matter.
 

puter

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2002 Jetta GLS
TornadoRed said:
As with duct tape and the vise grip wrench, there is no all-inclusive list of uses for WD-40.

Also, it is possible that a little lubrication supplied by the petroleum residue might be beneficial. Perhaps someone who has had a turn signal switch laid out on a work bench can offer better guidance in this matter.
My immediate reaction to it was to question whether or not WD40 was conductive when dry, and whether or not it can cause any oxidation on electronic parts (I know it protects larger items...such as wrenches :) )

if either of those is true, you probably don't want to be spraying it on electronics.
 

ymz

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May 12, 2003
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Between Toronto & Montreal
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2003 Jetta TDI Wagon, 2003 Jetta TDI Wagon
To quote from my posting above:

"WD-40 actually made things worse on my car... not only did smoke start coming out of the turn signal area, but now the middle "off" position keeps on turning "Left" and the right turn signal position flashes both turn signals..."

We took it apart eventually, cleaned everything, and when we put it back together, it still had occasional clicking (worse in freezing weather), but eventually it went away...

YMMV

Yuri.
 

puter

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Location
Tacoma, Washington
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2002 Jetta GLS
Ya, I see no reason to use WD40 when there are de-oxidizers actually designed for electronics.

I would recommend just using de-oxit. It's design to be used on electronics and it won't damage your car.
 

l_c

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Joined
Mar 4, 2003
Location
San Jose, CA USA
TDI
Wrecked and gone: VW Jetta wagon 2002 silver TDI
Contact cleaners

Blaster makes a contact cleaner product as well ... here's a link to their page --
http://blasterchemical.com/display.cfm?p=50003&pid=12

I have no idea how these products compare. There are quite a few vendors (makers) of electrical contact cleaner.

CRC has a whole bunch of different Precision Cleaners (for electrical contacts), I mean probably more than a dozen (flammable and non-flammable) ... here's just one example --
http://www.crcindustries.com/ei/content/prodtree_ss.aspx?ID=140

Larry
 

mrGutWrench

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Location
Wallace, NC
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'03 Jetta Wagon
ymz said:
To quote from my posting above:

"WD-40 actually made things worse on my car... not only did smoke start coming out of the turn signal area, but now the middle "off" position keeps on turning "Left" and the right turn signal position flashes both turn signals..." (snip)
__. Same for me. Actually, the first time I tried it, the WD-40 worked fine but the clicking returned about 4 months later; the second time, it let the smoke out. I ordered a new turn signal unit from Impex and changed it. I still have the old one -- I should rebuild it as a spare.
 

DrDon

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Feb 8, 2001
Location
Paradise, Oregon, USA 2001 NB
TDI
NB, 2001, Silver
Agree with several above,
...that would be wise to avoid WD40..
.....while it will of course work at least temporarily,
.......and is at least diagnostically helpful..
........due to the complex distillate components..
..........some of which will leave residues
...........that with heat, oxidation, and electrical arcing..will tend to potentially lead to carbon tracks that can be variably conductive pathways for errant current flow...and not always where you would wish---shorting or unanticipated "switching".

..Contact cleaner of various names including previously mentioned as well as "Color Tuner Cleaner/lubricant" that was once common to clean TV manual channel switches, or simply "Electrical Contact Cleaner/Solvent" are highly volatile--low residue and generally more uniform distillate fractions or mono component solvents, or halo-carbon solvents, somewhat analogous to brake cleaner solvents,...to solvate the carbon and metal oxidant residues of copper to copper or copper to carbon/platinum/tungsten/alloy/etc (like "points").. without leaving a residue for further "arc-tracking" creation; some leaving a non-conductive oxidation resistant lubricant film etc.
...of course this will not cure the pitting and surface loss from oxidation/arcing, but often restore reasonable function with whatever solvable variably conductive/insulative contaminants/pollutants/tobacco residue that can be removed or at least disrupted/broken up/..

...Such solvent mixtures are generally great for other rheostat/tuner/switches...like "un-scratching" old volume/balance/tuner controls on old car radios and such (even easier with movable electronics equipment where you can orient the switch shaft vertically)..spraying down the shaft accompanied by rapid turning of the switch to improve the surfaces, remove gradue/grime/dust/etal--often resurrecting without disassembly..

..did the 2001 TDI NB today; could not find my old can of contact cleaner equivalent--must have used it up rebuilding generator and/or spa pump motor..
...so tried silicone lube spray, at least generally non-conductive--though may have an undesirable petroleum distillate carrier for future residue problems;:(

...was not the turn signal stalk/switch (no change); but immediate improvement with spraying in the crack at the top edge of the emergency flasher switch and working in by rapidly working the switch...:)

...Annoying that something as simple as a flasher mechinism/description/location/discussion/.. is not even listed in the Bentley VW Service Manual index!! Turn signal bulb/switch/indicator and emergency flasher listing, but nothing about the flasher itself..
...did not feel like firing up the old computer that has the bentley CD manual on it (and of course not in the "glove box" owner's manual)..

...about as bad as indexes for software packages or Windows manuals.........every entry except the simple or fundamental item you are looking for.

...by feeling the click of the flasher through my finger on the emergency flasher switch, I assume the flasher mechanism is built into or attached to this switch..

....why should one have to look to a forum for such a fundament question; like the conventional standard flasher replacement on conventional systems--just within reach up under the dash, where you can either see, or locate by its click---but of course nowadays, no obvious vision location with a panel blocking access from below..

vent....vent...vent..:mad:
 

l_c

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Location
San Jose, CA USA
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Wrecked and gone: VW Jetta wagon 2002 silver TDI
Yes DrDon, it's a combo flasher switch/relay module.
Thx for the info about the cleaners!
Larry
 

NarfBLAST

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Location
Waterdown, Ontario, Canada
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2001 Golf 5MT
Releasall works like Magic

This is my second clicky switch. Purchased used, this turn signal switch was good for one year and 30,000 km. Then it started up again, clicking more and more often, usually after finishing a turn, but recently is started going almost non stop from the time I turn the key on.

Today was one of those days, turn on the key, clicking starts before even cranking the starter. Turned off the key, went into the garage and grabbed the can of RELEASALL and applied liberally. Turned the key back on, no clikcing... drove 100km and almost 2 hours today with the whole family in the car, we did not hear a single extra click!

Found the fine print on the can: Contains Mineral oil and carbon dioxide for propellant. That is why they can claim:

non-toxic
non-flamable
non-clorinated
biodegradeable
non ozone depleting

They also claim that it displaces moisture from electrical components and dries out wet ignition systems.

Will post updates.

update: Two weeks, no extra clicks! I can hardly believe it!
update: Three weeks, the peace and serenity is priceless.

Update: left turn signal stuck on, smoke and almost fire: Smoking VW Turn Signal - YouTube
 
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John C

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Broomfield, CO USA
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I just used CRC electronic contact cleaner - available at Wal Mart in the automotive section. Sprayed it liberally and worked the switch while spraying. No issues with the switch over the last couple of days :) .

John C
 

verbalnoncents

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May 21, 2004
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Toronto, Canada
TDI
Sport Edition 2004
My Signal just started having clicking after I finished using it... it would go on for 30 secs then slowly stop clicking.

I am debating whether to use the releasall or contact cleaner.
Do you think the mineral oil in releasall is bad?
 

John C

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I'm not familiar with the releasall; however, it probably leaves a mineral oil residue if mineral oil is one of the components. The contact cleaner I used indicated it does not leave any residue, so the contacts may not have any lubrication, which may or may not be necessary.

From my reading the ultimate solution is to disassemble, clean, and lubricate with dielectric grease, but that's not an option for me as I'm 1800 miles from my tool box :eek: .

The only turn signal switch I had apart was my 1969 Volvo and it exhibited carbon tracking that caused it to malfunction. I simply cleaned it good and it worked until I sold it, but it was a different design than the VW switch.

YMMV ;)

JRC
 

NarfBLAST

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Cleaning mine and applying dielectric grease lasted less than a year, and I lost the high beams switch in the process (it worked when I re-assembled, but stopped working shortly after). A used replacement lasted more than a year, but it started back up again. I am pretty sure you need lube in there. I am going to stick with Releasall and keep posting updates in post#49. Three weeks and extra clicks free! Have not added more Releasall yet, but after my experience, and figuring I have nothing to loose, I like the spray idea best.
 

mrGutWrench

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NarfBLAST said:
Cleaning mine and applying dielectric grease lasted less than a year, and I lost the high beams switch in the process (it worked when I re-assembled, but stopped working shortly after). A used replacement lasted more than a year, but it started back up again. I am pretty sure you need lube in there. I am going to stick with Releasall and keep posting updates in post#49. Three weeks and extra clicks free! Have not added more Releasall yet, but after my experience, and figuring I have nothing to loose, I like the spray idea best.
__. Yeah, Narf, my "solutions" didn't last long (until I put a new-new one on it, we'll see how long that lasts). It's only a guess on my part, but my guess is that the brass contacts are too soft, they'll wear and leave metal particles in the grease is there's grease there or they'll see accelerated wear if there's no lube there.

__. I think the real solution is a matter of putting a new one in when the existing one gets to "point of no return". Anything else is just a 'band-aid' on the real problem. But if a 20 second spray of a product you already have puts off an $80 repair for a year, it's worth a try.
 

ToolNut

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Boylston, MA, USA
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I tried virtually every quick-fix-it method described on this website, and none worked for very long. I finally took the switch apart, and found out why. Lots of little brass/copper filings were making a neat little electrical path that provided just enough juice for the flasher to start clicking randomly. It is my belief that all the spraying methods eventually made the problem worse by washing away the factory lube, making metal-to-metal contact more abrasive, and hence causing more little metal filings to build up. Replace the switch or take it apart, clean everything up and put in the silicone dielectric stuff to help prevent further problems. I did the latter more than two years ago, and the problem never returned. My car probably had insufficient factory lube to begin with.

Paul
 

Btravelen

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midwest USA
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2005 TDI Passat Variant
Thanks Varkias

Accomplished this today. It's been driving my wife nuts for several months. Me too when I occasionally drove it. Pretty straightforward info. Definitely worth a contribution.

Only things I added were to use a little scotchbrite on the copper contacts in addition to the contact cleaner. I popped the 2 contacts loose on the handle and stretched the springs out just a bit to provide more tension on the contacts when installed.

Must have got everything installed correctly, cause everything works and no leftover parts....:p Hope it lasts....

Take Care
 

NarfBLAST

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2001 Golf 5MT
Update: two months with not one single extra click after using the Releasall (mineral oil) the clicking suddenly came back with a vengence! So I tried spraying some more in there, and I got smoke, and still clicking... after some driving the left blinker started blinking and would not stop...



Turns out a bit of conductive material formed a bridge and would glow and smoke, check out the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OFSvYuFw4c

The most frustrating part of the tear down procedure, aside from removing the air bag, was these two clips at the turn signal stock end of the switch box, so I broke some plastic, no regrets:



Funny thing was it still smoked and the left turn signal was still stuck blinking after teardown and re-assembly... that is why I have the video of it glowing and smoking, because to diagnose I tore it down a second time without disconnecting it to see what was going on. Classic "there is your problem right there" moment. :D Check out the video, here is the link again: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OFSvYuFw4c
 
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mrGutWrench

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NarfBLAST said:
Update: two months with not one single extra click after using the Releasall (mineral oil) the clicking suddenly came back with a vengence! So I tried spraying some more in there, and I got smoke, and still clicking... after some driving the left blinker started blinking and would not stop...
__. When mine ('03 wagon) did the same thing, it was the right blinker that wouldn't shut off.
 

TornadoRed

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The following was emailed to me recently, along with a link to an obituary for a guy who ran the WD-40 company since the 1960s.

Before you read to the end, does anybody know what the main ingredient of WD-40 is?
Don't lie and don't cheat~


WD-40. Who knew?

I had a neighbor who had bought a new pickup.
I got up very early one Sunday morning and saw
that someone had spray painted red all around the sides
of this beige truck (for some unknown reason).
I went over, woke him up, and told him the bad news.
He was very upset and was trying to figure out what to do
probably nothing until Monday morning, since nothing was open.

Another neighbor came out and told him to get his WD-40 and clean it off.
It removed the unwanted paint beautifully
and did not harm his paint job that was on the truck.
I'm impressed! WD-40 who knew?
"Water Displacement #40"
The product began from a search for a rust preventative solvent
and degreaser to protect mi ssi le parts.
WD-40 was created in 1953 by three technicians
at the San D iego Rocket Chemical Company.
Its name comes from the project that was to find
a "water displacement" compound.
They were successful with the fortieth formulation, thus WD-40.
The Corvair Company bought it in bulk to protect their atlas missile parts.

Ken East (one of the original founders)
says there is nothing in WD-40 that would hurt you.
When you read the "shower door" part, try it.
It's the first thing that has ever cleaned that spotty shower door.
If yours is plastic, it works just as well as glass. It's a miracle!
Then try it on your stove top ... Viola!
It's now shinier than it's ever been. You'll be amazed.
Here are some other uses:


1. Protects silver from tarnishing.
2. Removes road tar and grime from cars.
3. Cleans and lubricates guitar strings.
4. Gives floors that 'just-waxed' sheen without making them slippery.
5. Keeps flies off cows.
6. Restores and cleans chalkboards.
7. Removes lipstick stains.
8. Loosens stubborn zippers.
9. Untangles jewelry chains.
10. Removes stains from stainless steel sinks.
11. Removes dirt and grime from the barbecue grill.
12. Keeps ceramic/terra cotta garden pots from oxidizing.
13. Removes tomato stains from clothing.
14. Keeps glass shower doors free of water spots.
15. Camouflages scratches in ceramic and marble floors.
16. Keeps scissors working smoothly.
17. Lubricates noisy door hinges on vehicles and doors in homes.
18. It removes black scuff marks from t he kitchen floor!
Use WD-40 for those nasty tar and scuff marks on floo ring.
It doesn't seem to harm the finish and you won't have to scrub
nearly as hard to get them off.
Just remember to open some windows if you have a lot of marks.
19. Bug guts will eat away the finish on your car if not removed quickly! Use WD-40!
20. Gives a children's playground gym slide a shine for a super fast slide.
21. Lubricates gear shift and mower deck lever for ease of handling on riding mowers.
22. Rids kids rocking chairs and swings of squeaky noises.
23. Lubricates tracks in sticking home windows and makes them easier to open.
24. Spraying an umbrella stem makes it easier to open and close.
25. Restores and cleans padded leather dashboards in vehicles, as well as vinyl bumpers.
26. Restores and cleans roof racks on v ehicles.
27. Lubricates and stops squeaks in ele ctric fans.
28. Lubricates wheel sprockets on tricycles, wagons, and bicycles for easy handling.
29. Lubricates fan belt s on washers and dryers and keeps them running smoothly.
30. Keeps rust from forming on saws and saw blades, and other tools.
31. Removes splattered grease on stove.
32. Keeps bathroom mirror from fogging.
33. Lubricates prosthetic limbs.
34. Keeps pigeons off the balcony (they hate the smell).
35. Removes all traces of duct tape.
36. Folks even spray it on their arms, hands, and knees to relieve arthritis pain.
37. Florida 's favorite use is: "cleans and removes love bugs from grills and bumpers."
38. The favorite use in the state of New York , WD-40 protects the Statue of Liberty
from the elements.
39. WD-40 attracts fish. Spray a little on live bait or lures
and you will be catching the big one in no time.
Also, it's a lot cheaper than the chemical attractants
that are made for just that purpose. Keep in mind though,
using some chemical l aced baits or lures for fishing
are not allowed in some states.
40. Use it for fire ant bites. It takes the sting away immediately and stops the itch.
41. WD-40 is great for removing crayon from walls.
Spray on the mark and wipe with a clean rag.
42. Also, if you've discovered that your teenage daughter
has washed and dried a tube of lipstick with a load of laundry,
saturate the lipstick spots with W D-40 and rewash. Presto! The lipstick is gone!
43. If you sprayed WD-40 on the distributor cap,
it would displace the moisture and allow the car to start.

P. S. The basic ingredient is FISH OIL.

We use to put it on the flexible ball joints of the aircraft exhaust system that had that type system. If the exhaust system was not flexible the exhaust ports would pull out of the cylinders exhaust ports as the engine had torque applied to it. We used to loosen up the ball joints with WD-40 and a raw hide mallet. In the old days if you would hit something or someone, they would work........
 

ymz

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Location
Between Toronto & Montreal
TDI
2003 Jetta TDI Wagon, 2003 Jetta TDI Wagon
TornadoRed said:
The basic ingredient is FISH OIL.
While I agree that WD-40 is very handy, it's been established that there's no fish oil in it...

The material safety data sheet lists only Stoddard Solvent (mineral spirits), Liquefied Petroleum gas (possibly now replaced by carbon dioxide as a propellant), mineral oil and some inert ingredients...

By the way, getting back to the clicking turn signal stalks... on some cars that have a bit of milage on them (like my 320,000+ mile wagon), one of the "bar"-type contacts actually had a groove worn in it that made the left turn signal inoperative. Local TDI expert Brandon replaced the contact with one removed from an Audi...

Yuri
 
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