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Horn won’t shut off: 1998 Ford Escort

My horn won’t shut off. I tapped the middle of the steering wheel a few times, no harder than normal, and it just stayed on, kept blaring. Had to take out the fuse to get it to stop. It still works when I put the fuse back in it…

Likely a spring inside the steering wheel and horn assembly has broken or a wire has had the insulstion worn off so itmis always in contact. The steering column needs to come apart tomfind the cause. Finding parts for a 21 year old car could be an issue.

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@Mustangman, thanks a lot for the reply. Yea, I kinda figured finding parts would be an issue, and taking off the steering column sounds like more work & cost than the car is worth. Not having a horn does prevent me from blaring at at inane drivers. Although my wife thinks that it might help prevent me from cursing them so often if the horn worked…

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The important thing to consider is that a horn can be a safety feature if you don’t overuse it, so you should get it fixed.

…and by “get it fixed,” I am totally on board with a hack repair on a car this old, installing a button on the dashboard that you can easily reach when you need to honk the horn, wiring the button directly to the battery and the horn if you have to.

If this exceeds your technical skills, it shouldn’t cost more than an hour of a shop’s labor rate, plus the cost of the button and the wires. An automotive electrician can run the wires through the fire wall for you too, so it will look nicer.

I had a horn fail like that once. Oddly enough, it was the actual horn that failed internally. An insulating part deteriorated and caused the horn to come on by itself. Horns are relatively cheap. Someone with a multimeter could help track down the actual cause so you’re not guessing and wasting time and parts…

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Wow. I was so vested in my diagnosis that I didn’t even think of troubleshooting the cause, showing how easy it is to think yourself into a corner by making assumptions.

Another possibility in older cars is that the grease inside the rotary contact switch picks up dirt and gets sticky, and then the switch sticks closed and makes the horn run constantly. Unfortunately you have to take the steering wheel off in order to clean and re-lubricate it, and that’s not something you should try in an airbag-equipped steering wheel unless you know what you’re doing.

Maybe a coincidence but I have repaired that problem on 2 earlier model Escorts and they both had bad steering wheel center cushions which the horn contacts were embedded in. It appeared that cold, damp weather had caused the foam to begin to wrap up and move the switching ribbons into contact.

Dag! I love this site, wish I’d thought of it earlier - I really, really appreciate all the great advice. Thanks everyone!.
@Rod_Knox…when you did the repairs on the 2 Escorts with the same issue, how involved was that? Did it require removing/replacing the steering wheel or just the cover?

The horn switch is under the airbag, if you are not capable of removing the airbag this repair should be left to a professional.

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Only removing the cover was required and the cars were early 90s as best I can recall.

Oh yea, doesn’t matter where it is, I’d leave it to the professional - thanks!

There may also be a horn relay that stuck.

It certainly could be a relay but I don’t recall if it uses a relay but I did run across this

which sounds very similar to what I found with the horn button. I don’t know where I found the replacement switch/cushion, honestly I would have guessed it was the Ford dealer.