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If you’ve been in car land on social media for any length of time, you’ve probably seen the same jokes at least a dozen times. And while a Mustang crashing at a car meet and VW check engine lights are nearly universal, one meme has its roots in car design. There may actually be a reason why BMW drivers don’t use turn signals, and it has to do with how the stalks are designed.

BMW drivers don’t use turn signals because they’re bizarre

OK, so you could take that headline one of two ways. Yes, BMW drivers don’t use turn signals as often as they should. But there is a reason. Or at least, an explanation.

In most cars, when you activate the turn signal, it stays in that position. That means you can easily deactivate it by nudging the signal stalk back to center. Alternatively, it will automatically switch off once you turn the wheel and then recenter the steering.

However, BMW turn signals operate just differently enough to be a pain to use, and Doug DeMuro, formerly of Autotrader, agrees. Instead of staying in position, the BMW turn signal stalk immediately snaps back to center, but the signal stays on. It will then remain blinking until you turn and recenter the wheel.

So why not just click it down? For reasons unknown, BMW doesn’t allow you to cancel the turn signal by clicking it in the opposite direction. Instead, you’ll just be indicating in that direction.

Even more frustrating is how easy it is to blow past the convenience turn signal for lane changes. The smooth operation is a big selling point, until you’re trying to make a lane change and accidentally bump the turn signal a step too far. Congratulations, you’ve now started a game of whack-a-mole with your car that will make other drivers wonder just where you got that driver’s license from.

From behind, it looks like you have no idea how to drive or which way you’re going. But the only real fight is with figuring out how to turn the thing off without cranking the wheel into oncoming traffic.

New BMW models solve this confusing turn signal issues

Importantly, the new generation of BMW models ditches this vexing turn signal stalk for a more traditional setup. It’s one of the first things I noticed when reviewing the BMW M240i earlier this year. And other MotorBiscuit team members have reviewed the M2, XM, and M340i, and all use a normal turn signal setup versus the previous BMW models.

Help the BMW driver in your life learn how to use a turn signal

Three BMW M2 models on a highway without a turn signal in sight.
2023 BMW M2 | BMW

Fortunately, there is a solution to all of this frustration. Rather than being one of those BMW drivers that don’t use a turn signal, you can learn how the stalks work and gain the trust of drivers around you.

If your turn signal is on and you don’t want it to be, fully move the stalk in the same direction. This will effectively cancel the signal, so you can drive in peace.

It may not solve the trope of a BMW tailgating everyone on the interstate. But if we can pass along this small bit of knowledge to the BMW owners out there, it may help make everyone’s lives a bit easier. The truth is, you don’t have to ignore your turn signal if you drive an older BMW. You just have to learn how to cancel it quickly on the odd occasion you accidentally turn it on.

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