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Basic car maintenance: Replacing the horn on a car

  Friday, 17 November 2023

Man pressing palm on a car steering wheel horn

Beep, beep!

Is your car horn sounding off key, out of tune or just mute?

Your car horn is integral to keeping yourself and other road users safe at the wheel. Drivers also sound the horn to highlight less than perfect driving by others! It’s an instinctive reaction to reach for the horn, which have been part of cars since before the first Model T Ford.

However, car horns can sometimes suffer from issues, such as a lowered tone or simply the inability to sound at all. Replacing the horn on a car is not as difficult as other car parts, and if you’re able to replace the horn in your car yourself you’ll often save quite a bit of money.

Alternatively, if the horn has stopped working and you need to replace it, ASM Auto Recycling can help with that. You can search over 100,000 used car parts at ASM.

Can you change your car horn?

Yes, you can. It is one of the easier things you can change in a car, if you know what you’re doing.

The horn is activated from the steering wheel console, but there is more to the horn than that. Here are a few basics about the humble horn, where you will find them in a vehicle, how they work and how long they last.

Types of horn in vehicles

There are generally two types of horn in private cars – the wind tone and the electric horn. Car horns don’t require much power and work on the principle of electromagnetism. In wind tone horns, the sound emits directly from the diaphragm, then to a windpipe. In electric horns, an electromagnet called a solenoid is magnetised and demagnetised to produce the sound.

Where is the car horn?

The mechanics of your car horn is usually located either behind the car’s grille or on the radiator core support.

How long do car horns last?

As they are much simpler parts than engine components, car horns should last the lifetime of the vehicle. However, they may need to be repaired or replaced, perhaps due to terminal corrosion or defects with wiring. A fuse controls how much power the horn receives, and this is the most likely component to fail.

Checking your car horn

Here’s a how-to-guide to diagnose problems with your car horn. This is best done with someone else helping you.

  • If the car horn is sounding at a low volume, get your friend to “pop the hood” (open the bonnet) and check it. If your horn is overly quiet, the chances are that one of the horns (many cars actually have more than one) has stopped working and will need to be replaced.

  • The horn usually resembles a fuse, with wires coming off it. You’ll need to remove the wire connector, which you can do by pressing down on the lower end of the connector and then pulling it out.

  • Remove the mounting bolt and the spade jugs, which are attached to the wiring, and give them a good clean before re-attaching all of the components.

  • Ask your friend to try the horn again.

  • If this doesn’t help, then the chances are you’ll need to buy a new or second hand horn and replace it.

Car horn replacement

Needle nosed pliers

Replacing a horn on a car is a job that it is possible to carry out yourself. The first thing to do is find your fuse box to check the fuse used to sound your horn (your owner’s manual will tell you which one it is).

  • Remove the fuse using a pair of needle nosed pliers or tweezers. If the metal strip inside the fuse is broken, then the fuse has failed and is no longer functional, so will need to be replaced. Try the horn again – if it works, problem solved.

  • If the issue isn’t the fuse, then check to see if the airbag light is illuminated on the dashboard. Issues with the airbag can sometimes affect the horn, with the bag having expanded, and interfered with the clock spring.

  • If the airbag light is on, then this is the time when it’s best to take your car to a mechanic. Replacing the airbag to stop it hindering the horn is a more complicated task.

Replace your car horn and other parts at ASM

Take a look at our range of used car parts. You can search by your car registration, make and model and find all the parts that we have available for your vehicle. All of our recycled car parts are cleaned, tested and covered by our 90-day guarantee. Buying quality used car part from ASM Auto Recycling makes sense if you are repairing your own car or a salvage vehicle. You can save up to 70% on main dealer prices.

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