Wussy car horns -- unsafe?

I’ve owned many cars since I turned 16, and one thing that’s always bugged me are lame car horns. I’m talking the little “meep meep” sounds you get out of many smaller cars. From what I can tell, they are pretty useless, not nearly loud or obnoxious enough to do their job well – specifically, to alert other drivers about an impending problem.

I’ve even been in a collision that could have been avoided had my car had a real horn. A woman didn’t check her blind spot and changed lanes right into me, and she just couldn’t hear my car’s lame beeeeeep.

For some reason, I assumed it was a function of car size, because smaller cars tended to have lamer horns, and larger cars had more effective horns. Then I got a 350Z, and it, too, had a real horn, unlike previous models of the 3XX series. So obviously car size has nothing to do with it.

Well, now my lease is running out on my mangina (Honda CRV), and while it’s a fine (if boring) car, the horn drives me nuts. It’s sooooo freakin’ lame. I don’t use it to honk in traffic and annoy nearby folks, I just want it in case of a genuine emergency and I want to make sure that folks around me can hear it in that case.

So I have several questions regarding lame beeping car horns (in the U.S.):

1 - are they less safe than louder, easier to hear horns? (I’m assuming yes, but don’t want to rely on assumptions)

2 - if so, why do car manufacturer’s use quieter horns that are harder to hear?

3 - now that I’m shopping for a new car, how do I get the dealer to put in a real horn as a condition of purchase. Is this something that’s doable? Short of low-riders that honk the opening notes of “La Cucaracha” I’m not familiar with car horn transplant procedures.

4 - While we’re on the subject, what idiot car makers decided to make turn signals red instead of yellow? Talk about blending in with the brake lights and being harder to see! Are these items that can be changed to safer yellows as well, if I decide on a car that has this moronic feature? :smack:

Thisis the horn you need to get people’s attention. Plus it’s cool for when your jumping ravines.

i’ve seen air horn add-on units sized for cars

I’ve wondered about this, too - my silver Corolla is apparently completely invisible on the road, and the meep of the horn just isn’t cutting it. I don’t know if you can get a better horn put in at the dealership, but I’m sure they exist in the after-market market. If you get this done, keep us advised, eh? :slight_smile:

Will do. =)

I want to avoid having to do it as extra purchase after the fact. I genuinely feel it’s just not safe to have a meep meep machine, and it should be up to the manufacturers to include a safer horn in the car.

That and amber turn signals. As one of the few LA drivers who actually uses them, I want to make sure they are visible.

It hardly matters.

So many drivers are blasting their radio inside their car, or listening to music over headphones, or talking on their cellphones, that even a really loud horn isn’t going to penetrate their brain soon enough to make any difference.

I’ve had teenagers go down my block with their car stereo putting out ‘music’ louder than even most semitruck air horns!

Does anyone know if there are any laws regarding horns and what they must sound like?

California Vehicle Code.

I don’t have anything to add, but I just got a new Honda Insight that didn’t come with floor mats. I found a website to get them from and in looking around the site they have some DIY videos for all kinds of Hondas. At first I was just watching them to kill some time at work, but then I ran across this one. This video made me get a new horn for two reasons: 1)It’s kinda funny when they show the difference between the stock Insight horn and the upgrade (which I think may be from an Accord) and 2)I didn’t realize that my car had a meep meep horn until I saw the video…and the horn was only $12.

It’s pretty common among motorcyclists to replace the stock horn with something with a bit more volume. A pair of Fiamm Freeway Blasters (one high, one low) will set you back about $35. Depending on how your car is wired, you might need a relay, which you should be able to find for a few bucks at any auto parts store.

Here’s a link: http://www.aerostich.com/fiamm-freeway-blaster-horn-low-tone.html

Great, glad it’s so easy to do! Thanks for the links.

And yeah I know not everyone will hear even a louder horn, but better to have than not.

Still gonna make dealer do it as part of purchase contract. On principle alone.

I hardly ever feel like someone drives more safely after I honk at them. :slight_smile:

I don’t care if they drive more safely. I care that they hear me and don’t crash into me.

My loud horn (previous car) absolutely prevented more than one person from changing lanes (sans blind spot check) and hitting me, while my meep-mobile has failed to prevent the same situation on one occasion, and has barely worked on others.

Hella Supertone horns are a lot louder than stock units and should be an easy install for any DIY-er. Detailed instructions in something like 18 languages are included.

Some years ago, I had one of those little meep-meep, umm, excuse me please, cars, and transplanted the full four-horn set from a 70s-era Cadillac into it. “meep meep” was replaced with WHONNNNKKKK!

The biggest problem is finding space. The car’s original horn may be about the size of a hockey puck, but Caddy horns are quite a bit larger, and there’s rarely any spare room under the hood these days. You’ll definitely need to upgrade the horn relay to drive all of them, too.

Seconding the SuperTones. Those rock, and pretty small compared to their output. Put them on a car I had a while back, and made night and day difference.

I think something like this might be appropriate for a Toyota Yaris or some other subcompact.

I was nearly the filling in a bastard sandwich a while back, when a caravan to the left of me and a Volvo to the right of me both tried to change lane simultaneously and occupy the space I was in. Fortunately they both realised at the last moment, but I got the impression my stock twin horns just weren’t cutting through. So I fitted an additional diaphragm horn, plus a twin air-horn set, and now the resultant five-horn cacophony sounds like a trainwreck in progress. It still doesn’t get through to every mirror-shunning spontaneous lane-changer, but it’s a big improvement, and the discordant tone from the various-pitched horns sounds like at least two-and-a-half cars and adds an extra sense of urgency.

I would recommend plumbing in any extra horns via a relay fed straight from the battery (via a fuse if you like) as the switch or relay contacts that feed the stock-fitted horns might not take the extra load too well (but you can tap off a feed from an existing horn to drive the relay coil). Diaphragm horns and air compressor motors present a very inductive load, and the electrical contacts that switch these have to be rated higher than the actual current draw to prevent premature failure.

And worst of all…Why do car manufacturers give little cars whimpy horns, and big cars macho horns? All cars should be created equal here, dang it!

I put in a 12 volt burglar alarm siren in place of the original horn. No need to do anything except cut the wires from the original and splice 'em to the siren. Get 'em at Radio Shack. Just be sure to use the constant note one, not the warbling one that sounds like a cop. That’s illegal. Once, a cop at a traffic check roadblock asked me to honk my horn to prove it worked. He nearly jumped out of his uniform. FUNNY…