How to Fix a Car Horn

Updated: May 22, 2024

Car horn not working properly? Here's how to troubleshoot and pinpoint the problem.

You probably never think much about the horn in your vehicle, unless someone cuts you off or doesn’t see a traffic light change to green right away. Or unless the horn suddenly stops working.

Because they’re usually installed between the front grill and radiator, horns are exposed to a great deal of rain, dirt and road salt. With prolonged exposure, this spray can penetrate the horn’s innards, shorting out the coil and silencing it.

Other issues can render a horn inoperative, including a faulty switch in your steering wheel, a broken “clock spring,” a bad horn relay or a broken or shorted wire somewhere along the way. Here’s how to troubleshoot and fix a car horn:

Check for Corrosion on the Horn

Before digging out all your electrical tools, start by popping the hood and taking a look. You can often identify the issue right off the bat.

Closely inspect the wire connections to the horn, ensuring they’re tight. Disconnect them, clean the lugs and terminal contacts, then reconnect them. Try honking your horn again. If you hear clicking or no sound at all, move on to the fuses.

Fh11mar 516 13 019 Car HornFamily Handyman

Check the Fuse

Check the fuse box for any signs of char or melting. If you find either, the problem could be bigger than just your horn.

If everything looks good, locate the horn fuse. The owner’s manual will show you where to find it.

  • If the fuse is blown, replace it.
  • If the fuse is intact, jump power directly to the car horn with a homemade fused jumper (photo above). In its simplest form, a fused jumper consists of two battery clips attached to each end of a length of wire with an in-line fuse holder in the middle. If the horn makes a clicking sound, a poor ground connection may be to blame.

  • Clean the horn’s ground cables and connections thoroughly to remove corrosion and grime. Try powering the horn again. If the horn still clicks, you’ll have to replace it.

Fh11mar 516 13 020 Car HornFamily Handyman

Check the Relay

If the fuse is good and the car horn works with jumped power, the problem lies upstream. Before you waste time searching for a broken wire, try swapping out the vehicle horn relay. If the relay works, you’re looking at a much bigger problem. In that case, take your vehicle to a professional mechanic you trust.