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It only happens when they are in a vehicle. It flashes all different colors. Sometimes I am able to join the vehicle. What does this flashing indicate?

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

The icon flashes when the vehicle is under fire/in combat - this is to provide a pre-emptive measure for poor souls who would spawn into a vehicle that is near its end.

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I had no idea. Thanks for explaining this. – Feral Chimp Nov 13 '11 at 16:22
Neither did I - all too often I spawn into an insta-death. – CJM Nov 15 '11 at 10:19

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