How to Fix a Car Horn that won't work

By YOUCANIC on Apr 22, 2019

How to Fix a Car Horn that won't work

A car horn may stop working and no longer honks when you press the horn.  

If your horn sounds weak, clicks or sounds funny the issue usually is the horn itself. In such cases replacing the horn will fix the problem.  

This guide focuses on cases when your car horn does not work at all. 

Common Causes

  • Blown fuse
  • Relay
  • Damaged wire 
  • Defective horn
  • Broken clock spring

Troubleshooting a car horn that doesn't work

Fixing a horn that doesn't work is relatively easy and there are tests you can perform yourself. To fix your horn, you will need a few basic tools and a digital multimeter

We also used a retractable test lead by Lang Tools (Part Number 1129) which made this job easy but you can use any electrical wire as a substitute. 

Inspect horn button

what to do if your car horn not working Start by examining the horn on your steering wheel. Are you able to press the horn button at all? If you can't push the horn button (in some cases it may be integrated into the driver's airbag), that means there is something wrong with the switch.

This is not a common problem, so don't spend much time here and let's move on to the next step. 

If your airbag light came on at the same time that the horn stopped working the problem most likely is a defective clock spring. 

Check fuses

One of the most common problems that can cause your horn to stop working is a bad fuse. Check the horn fuse to make sure it's not blown. The fuse box will be either on the side of the dash on the driver's side or in the engine bay.

If you have difficulty locating the fuse box for your particular car model look it up in your owner's manual. 

Look at the fuse chart on the back of the fuse cover or the owner's manual. You should see a fuse that says HORN. 

common causes that can make a car horn not work

Pull the fuse and inspect the wire. If the fuse is blown replace it with a new fuse that has the same rating. 

Check horn relay

Locate the horn relay. The horn relay is found in the main fuse box located in the engine compartment.test horn fuse check horn relay

Use your multimeter to test the horn relay. 

If you aren't comfortable with testing a relay, you can try this old trick. Find another relay on the fuse box that is identical to the horn relay. Let's say the fog lights relay is identical. Switch the two relays. 

  • If your horn works but the fog lights don't, that means the relay is defective. Replace it.
  • If the fog lights work, that means the horn relay (now installed for the fog lights) is good. 

Feed 12 volts to the horn directly

If you haven't had any luck with fixing the horn, we need to check if the horn itself is working. Locate the horn which is mounted near the radiator. The horn is usually between the radiator and the front grill. It will help to remove the front grill which is held in place with a couple of screws. Some models may require that you remove the front bumper to get to the horn. install a new horn if old is dead

Unplug the electrical wires that go to the horn. Do you have two wires going to the horn or just one? 

If your horn has two wires one of them will be brown or black. This is the ground wire. You can connect the horn negative terminal directly to the body of the car or connect it to the battery negative terminal which will serve as our negative feed. 

Next, use a +12 volt feed line from the battery positive termnial to the horn. When you touch the horn terminal, you should hear the horn beep. 

    Horn does beep
    • The horn itself is good. Move to the next step to troubleshoot why the horn isn't getting power. 
  • Horn doesn't work
    • If you don't hear the horn that means the horn is defective. Replace the horn. If the fault is on the horn itself, you may be able to dismantle the horn and find what is wrong. Cleaning the contact breaker might work. There might be a broken or disconnected wire inside. New horns are very inexpensive costing as little as $20 USD. A 12-voltrsal car horn will get the job done even if you have a newer car.

Watch a video on how to install a new horn if yours doesn't work.

Check voltage at the wires

Next, we will check for power at the wires that plug into the horn. nothing happeneds when you press the horn

  1. Set your multimeter to measure DC. 
  2. If only one wire goes to the horn.
    1. Connect the black lead wire to the body of the vehicle and the red to the wire that you unplugged from the horn. 
  3. If two wires go to the horn. 
    1. Connect the black lead to the brown or black wire. Connect the 
    2. Connect the red lead to the red/power horn wire. 
  4. Turn the ignition to ON and have your friend press on the horn. 
  5. Read the multimeter. You should get 11 to 14 volts when the horn is pressed. 

If you don't get any power at this point, check the horn wire harness. Often you will see that the plug itself is corroded. 

You may also find that the plug may be loose or disconnected from the socket, as shown in the following picture. how to fix a horn problem

Inspect the ground

Check the ground connection where the horn mounts to the frame. Often you will see corrosion here. Remove the horn and clean the corrosion. This is important because horns that use only one feed line will use the mounting bracket as the ground connection. If there is corrosion at this point, this may be the reason why your horn doesn't horn troulbeshooting 

At this point there are two possible issues:

  • The wire harness. You can track the wire from the horn to the fuse box. You can get the horn electrical diagram for dealer for free and test for continuity
  • The clock spring is defective. 

Check clock spring

The clock spring may also be the problem. What is a clock spring you may ask. 

A clock spring is a device installed right behind your steering wheel. It allows the airbag and horn wires to stay connected even when you rotate the steering wheel. 

horn doesn't work anymoreYou will need to remove the steering wheel to replace or test the clock spring. Clock springs can be purchased online for any make and model and are inexpensive.

car horn stopeed workingClock springs don't need any programming. 

We hope that this guide helped you learn how to fix you car horn problem. The majority of car horn not working problems are caused by a defective horn, bad relay, defective clockspring or a blown horn fuse. This article covers most horn related problems. If your horn still doesn't work after following these guide, it may be time to take your car to a mechanic. If that's the case, please come back to this article and add a comment on how your mechanic fixed your horn. That will help future readers like you. 

My Horn doesn't work, and airbag light is on

This problem points to a defective clock spring. The airbag light stays on constantly. When the clock spring fails your airbag / SRS light will turn on in your instrument cluster. If you scan the fault codes for the airbag, you may find an error code that points to the driver's airbag. You can use an airbag scanner to retrieve the error codes by plugging it into the OBD-II port. If you don't have an airbag scanner take a look at YOUCANIC article on Top 10 Best Airbag Scanners

Related airbag module DTC fault codes: 

  • Driver Airbag Circuit Resistance too High

  • Driver Side Air Bag Circuit High Resistance or Open

  • Driver airbag squib 2 circuit open

If you have any of these fault codes, you most likely have a bad clock spring. Replace the clock spring, and your horn should be fixed as well. 

Why is important to fix your horn? 

If your horn fails, you are left without an audible warning system. Therefore you will not be able to alert other drivers or children on the road and therefore you may not be able to avoid an accident. 

Driving without a horn is illegal in many states. When you get your car state inspected one of the components that are normally checked is the operation of the horn. If the horn doesn't work you will fail state inspections. 

Is it illegal to drive without a horn?  

In many states, yes. Check with your state MVA/DMV to verify if disconnecting the car horn is against the law. 

How can I disconnect the horn on my car? 

To disconnect the horn locate the fuse for the horn in the fuse box. Remove the fuse. The car will still operate normally without a horn. You can also remove the horn relay. You can disconnect the wires from the horn as well. Any of these methods will disconnect your horn and render it inoperable. 

My horn won't stop honking. 

To fix a horn that won't stop honking replace the horn relay.

If that doesn't work then most likely the horn button/switch which is part of the airbag is stuck and making continuous contact.

Remove the airbag and inspect it. The last possible cause is a damaged wire harness which could happen if your car was in an accident. 

how down't work

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