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Originally published Friday, April 4, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Automotive Q&A

How to repair a broken horn on a 1999 Honda Civic: A click will do the trick

This continues a previous column's explanation of how to repair a broken horn on a 1999 Honda Civic. Your Civic uses a relay, located under...

San Jose Mercury News

This continues a previous column's explanation of how to repair a broken horn on a 1999 Honda Civic.

Your Civic uses a relay, located under/behind the left side of the instrument panel, to operate the horn. A relay has four electrical terminals; two connect to a fine coil of wire inside (the control side) and the other two connect to a set of switch contacts (the power side). Pushing the horn buttons switches the relay and sounds the horn.

Whether the relay makes a clicking sound will help isolate your problem. A solid click when a horn button is depressed proves that everything between horn button and relay is good, and the fault's in the power side of the circuit — likely the relay contacts or horn.

No click means the fault's on the control side — the steering-column wiring or horn buttons.

If the horn relay clicks as it's supposed to with the horn buttons, a paperclip can be inserted momentarily across the relay's two contact terminals, bypassing the contacts inside. If the horn now sounds, this means the relay contacts are faulty. If the horn fails to sound, you'll next check for power and ground at the horn itself, using a test light or meter. If power and ground are present at the horn and it fails to honk, it's defective.

As mentioned earlier, your horn circuit is ideal for a first-time electrical diagnosis. The worst that can happen is a blown fuse. More sophisticated circuits containing electronic modules are prone to damage should a testing mistake occur.

E-mail Brad Bergholdt at under-the-hood@juno.com. Sorry, no personal replies.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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