March 19, 2009

Car Talk

You should really see a professional for that embarrassing honking problem

Syndicated columnists

Dear Tom and Ray:
Boy, do we have an embarrassing problem. My husband's 1997 Nissan pickup's horn honks every time the steering wheel is turned. There is no telling how many arguments he has started
between husbands and wives in cars in front of him. The problem started with a clunking in the steering wheel and progressed to the honk, which sometimes will not quit until you bang on the steering wheel. We are at our wits' end as to what to do.

Tom: And in all this time that you've been ticking off your entire community, it never occurred to you to take it somewhere and have a mechanic look at it?

Ray: Well, that's what we're going to recommend now. There are three likely possibilities. One is that the horn contact -- the horn button itself -- has come loose and is floating around in your horn pad.

Tom: We don't recommend that you remove the horn pad yourself, since that also houses the air bag. And unless you want to end up with the word "NISSAN" embossed backward on your forehead, you might want to have someone else handle it.

Ray: It can be done safely if you disconnect the battery and allow the air bag to power down for a while before disturbing it. But, like I said, we don't recommend that civilians try this at home
without full body armor.

Tom: If the problem is not right there under the horn pad, then someone will have to pull off the steering wheel and figure out if the problem is in the multifunction switch or the steering column

Ray: In the worst-case scenario, it could end up costing you a few hundred
bucks, which isn't cheap. But think about the benefits: You'll be able to drive to church on Sundays without everybody making rude hand gestures at you.

(Car Talk is a nationally syndicated column by automotive experts (and brothers) Tom and Ray Magliozzi. Write to them at the Car Talk Web site.)


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