Friday, July 3, 2015

Fixing The Car Horn For Our PT Cruiser

Project:
Fixing the car horn on our PT Cruiser so it will pass inspection

Difficulty Level (Easy, Medium, Hard, Insane):
Easy

Process:
This little car has been amazing when it comes to reliability and reparis but I still actually hate it quite a bit. My wife loves it though and that's why we're keeping it.

In any case, the yearly inspection passed except for the horn which isn't working so I had one night to fix it. I figured it would be the little switches under the car horn because over the last year it has started to slowly go and become more intermittent until a few weeks ago when it completely gave out.

The first thing I had to do was disconnect the battery, take off the steering wheel air bag, then take out the horn switches. After some usage it looks like the horn buttons weren't making proper contact so I used a screwdriver to bend the contacts up a bit and re-installed the buttons (there were 4).

Unfortunately, it still didn't work, so I had to use my multi meter tool to trace the contacts. What I found was that there was a plug underneath the steering wheel that somehow didn't make proper contact so I had to bend those contacts with a little screw driver and then the multi meter showed proper continuity.

Unfortunately, that STILL didn't work, so off the front left wheel came (as per my repair manual's instructions) but I could not for the life of me find that stupid horn. Just out of curiosity I checked the other side of the vehicle and wouldn't you know it, there it was! No idea why they installed the horn on the right side instead of the left side.

Oh well! I stuck the multi meter into the two little plugs and had my son make contact by the horn buttons and the voltage promptly went up to 12V from 0. Great. Except, the horn still didn't work so I took it off and hooked it up directly to the battery and voila! It worked. What the heck? After I had a closer look at the contacts I saw that it was rather tarnished from general corrosion so after cleaning the plugs and all contacts IT WORKED!

After re-installing everything and driving around the block honking my horn (my neighbors were probably wondering what was going on) I parked the car in the garage.

The next day I drove by the shop where they inspected the horn and gave my sticker. Good for another year!

As a funny thing is that after work when I tried the horn again it stopped working again. Looks like I'm gonna have to do a little more cleaning and maybe I'll put some NOALOX on it...no rush though this time.

Pictures:

After the center part holding the airbag module was un-clipped
Close-up of the two air bag inflation plugs
There were four horn switches (2 black, 2 white) buttons under the center of the steering wheel
Testing the contacts & switches to find which part was causing the failure
The back of one of the switches
The inside of one of the 4 switches
After I bent the contacts up a bit
After the steering wheel was removed
Testing the cables inside the steering wheel to make sure they weren't the problem
Front right wheel well with the horn
Close-up of the horn with the two plugs that were corroded
Tools:
Phillips screwdriver
Torx screwdriver
Flat-head screwdriver
10mm wrench
Multi meter
Impact driver & socket
Wire brush
Work light

Materials:
None

Cost:
$0.00

Time:
2hr

Savings:
$250.00 (at least)

Conclusion:
Good for another year

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good one forgot which way the plugs on airbag went- thanks for pic !! the clips are a real sod to depress took me ages to get airbag off!! Mikie

Chris Eigenheer said...

Glad you got it working Mikie!

OuroborosChoked said...

How did you get the hub off of the steering column? My horn has been blowing randomly and I can't get it to stop! I NEED HELP ASAP!

Chris Eigenheer said...

@OuroborosChoked: First thing I would do is disconnect it right at the horn itself. just unplug one (or both) of the electrical connectors. Then, to remove the steering wheel, that is really tricky. I had to use a screwdriver through the back and unhook the little metal hook and do this 3 times (I think). Only then was I able to remove the steering wheel. If you email me your email address I can send you a scan of the Haynes Manual page that illustrates how to do it. In the meantime, this picture might give you some more info: http://www.justanswer.com/jeep/5bmqg-p-how-remove-airbag-module-cover-steering-wheel.html. this article talks about jeep grand Cherokee but it's the closest (about half-way down) to what I could find that looks like the PT Cruiser. Hope this helps.

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