Search Cars for Sale

Audi Figured Out a Cool Way to Get Around Turn Signal Regulations

If you’ve been behind a brand new Audi recently, you’ve probably noticed that a portion of the turn signal lights up in a little line that shows what direction the car is turning. If you put on the left turn signal, the line starts from the inside portion of the signal and stretches outwards, towards the left side of the car, indicating a left turn. It’s genius.

Except … it’s illegal.

According to federal regulations, this sort of turn signal isn’t allowed, for one simple reason: The regulation governs precisely how much turn signal must illuminate as the signal is turned on, and a little directional line isn’t enough lit surface area in the first “flash” of the turn signal. I’m not sure exactly how much surface area has to be lit in that first flash, but it’s not a small figure. If you want your turn signals to light up in sequence, the first light has to be very large — which is how the Ford Mustang gets away with its distinctive repeating turn signals, all of which are rather large. But a “line” of light isn’t enough surface area in that very first flash.

It’s a stupid regulation, of course — just like many federal regulations. But we abide by them, and nobody really knows about them except for engineers and designers, who have to figure out ways around them.

Or, in many cases, they just give up. That’s what happened with the Lexus RX, which also uses a cool “line of lights” turn signal in foreign markets. In the US, however, the line doesn’t illuminate enough light on the first flash, so Lexus just bagged it and the whole thing lights up. Goodbye, cool turn signal. Godspeed.

Audi, however, was more clever. Audi devised a workaround.

When you go to switch on the turn signal in a modern Audi, what you’ll find is that the signal does two things at once. The top half of the signal blinks like a normal turn signal, thereby satisfying the federal regulation for “first flash” surface area: the first flash is large and bright, just like any normal turn signal would be.

The cool bit is what comes next — the bottom half of the turn signal. Simultaneous with that first flash, the bottom half is lighting up as a little line of lights, just as Audi intended. In other words: the top half actually satisfies the regulation, and the bottom half is just there to look cool. And, oh boy, does it ever look cool. To see what I mean, go to 45 seconds in the video above, and watch closely: the top half lights up, like a normal turn signal, and the bottom half has its fun to catch your attention.

It’s a brilliant workaround to a problem that shouldn’t exist — and I’m thrilled that Audi conjured up the attention to detail to keep the cool line of lights, rather than just giving up and moving on. Find an Audi for sale

The Mercedes-Benz R63 AMG Is a 500-Horsepower Minivan
What Color Should Convertible Tops Be?
5 Ultra-Rare Modern Cars For Sale on Autotrader


Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

Sign up for Autotrader newsletters

The best cars and best deals delivered to your inbox

Email Address 

By subscribing, you agree to our privacy policy

Where You Can Buy

Loading dealers...


  1. It’d be nice if they’d figured out a better way to implement it… The car having sequential signals is cool and all, but couldn’t they figure out a solution that did *not* involve the brake lights? (Spoiler alert: Yes). IMO, combining the turn signals and the brake lights looks absolutely ridiculous, and not in a good way.

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles

2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid: First Look

The 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid jumps to the head of the hybrid class.

Best Truck Deals: June 2022

These are the best deals on trucks for the month of June 2022.

Here Are 5 Great 1980s Performance Cars for Sale on Autotrader

Looking for a fun 1980s car? Look no further.

Search By Style

More Articles Like This