CJ’s new horn

A couple of months ago, CJ’s car horn stopped working.  Well, that’s not exactly true.  I got a call from her at work one morning saying that the horn was going off by itself at random moments, and for random durations.  She parked it in the garage and closed the door in an attempt to spare the neighbors, but it definitely was something that needed to be taken care of before we went to bed that night.  She didn’t have time to take it into the shop to get them to look at it that day, so I volunteered to come home, find the fuse for the horn, and disable it.

I arrived home and walked into the house.  CJ greeted me with, “I’m glad you’re home.  The horn went off for a solid four minutes just before you pulled up.”  Terrific.

I went into the garage and slowly walked around to the driver’s seat.  I was trying to be as gentle as I could, fearing a hard step or door slam would set the horn off.  I let myself into the car and shut the door.  So far, so good.  I found the owner’s manual, and spent the next five minutes looking for where the horn fuse was.  I found that there are two fuse panels in my wife’s car – one under the steering column, and one in the engine compartment itself.

Guess which one had the horn?

The good news was that the horn was on its own fuse, so pulling it wouldn’t disable anything else electrical (or at least that was my theory).  The bad news was that now I was facing the prospect of working in the engine compartment less than a meter from a horn that could go at any minute.  I felt ear protection was in order.  Not ever encountering a need for ear protection in the past, I didn’t own a set of earplugs.  The best I could scrounge up on short notice was a pair of over-ear headphones.  Looking back, I probably could have stuffed them with cotton balls to make myself look even more ridiculous, and creating an even better blog post, but hey, hindsight you know?  Thankfully the fuse panel was near one of the edges, and with a fairly easily removed panel.  I pulled the fuse out with a pair of needle nose pliers.

Not even a chirp.  I frequently have an intimidating effect on computers – I never realized that superhero ability extended to cars.  Nice.

Later that week we got it into the shop to see what a repair would run.  That’s when the jaws dropped – over $800.  As it turns out, the issue was that the wire that connected the contact plate in the steering wheel with the horn had a short, and the only way to repair/replace it was to remove the airbag built into the steering wheel.  Of course, doing that invalidates the airbag, so we’d have to pay to have a fresh one installed after they fixed the wire.

Eight-hundred freakin’ bucks.

Well, we couldn’t swing that, and frankly I didn’t think a broken horn was worth that even if we could.  CJ agrees with me that $800 to fix a horn is nuts, but at the same time, she sorely misses having a functional horn. On several occasions, she’s beat the snot out of her steering wheel and yelled at some idiot who performed some act of motor vehicular malfeasance.  Of course, if the other driver actually noticed this display, he probably concluded that CJ was simply expressing her opinion about the upcoming re-release of “Titanic” in 3-D, and not commenting on his ability to stay in his own lane.

This story does have a happy ending, though.  On a recent trip with Lucy, CJ made a comment to the effect of “I miss my horn”.  Lucy picked up on that and replied with, “I will be your horn, Mommy.  You tell me when you see a bad driver, and I’ll honk.  HONNNNNNNNK!”

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