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The sound of your car horn is an effective way to send a message to other drivers or alert a pedestrian. But what if you don’t like it or want to have a new experience with your favorite car?

Modifications are essential spice for every memorable ride, and the limits you can go with them on your vehicle are endless. Horn sound is one of the exciting car modification options you have. Here’s a deep dive into whether you can change the sound of your horn and the laws around the modifications. 

History of car horns

A car horn button on a steering wheel with someone's hand on it.
Car horn on steering wheel | Getty Images

Car horns have existed as long as automobiles have been on the earth’s surface. The first horns came in three types, including the air horns, exhaust horns, and the electric types. 

The air horns included plastic bulbs, which drivers squeezed to produce sounds. On the other hand, Exhaust horns had exhaust pipe cuts that emitted sounds like steam engines. The electric horns had not much different from what we use today.

According to Your AAA Network, Miller Reese Hutchinson was one of the pioneer manufacturers of car horns. He built one of the first car horns, the Klaxon horn, in the early 1900s. This device rapidly grew into popularity and became omnipresent on most roads until the invention of the electric horns in the 1930s.

While the names changed, the science behind the functionality of car horns hasn’t undergone many developments. However, modern automakers are applying technological advancements to meet the needs of advanced automobile enthusiasts.

For instance, General Motors (GM) prefer tungsten diaphragm over steel for durability. Also, other manufacturers are choosing copper wires over aluminum to boost fuel efficiency.

Can I change its sound?

The short answer is yes. You can change the sound of your car’s horn if you find it too noisy or you prefer another option. The simple circuit that makes up the functionality of a horn makes the process even easier.

But, you may want to consider the legislative laws governing car horns in your locality. For example, according to the California Legislative Information, no vehicle should have an aftermarket horn whose sound emission surpasses 110 dB(A).

Also, you may want to keep in mind the simple rules of using a car horn. For instance, a police horn or train sound may not be the best for your car.

Are there new laws governing car horns?

Car horns haven’t undergone massive advancements since their inception. But, the laws on their usage have changed quite a lot. For instance, it was initially cool to keep honking your horn to greet your peers or express displeasure on the road.

But, the rules have changed, and leaning on your car horn unnecessarily may land you on the wrong side of the law. The car horn is sparingly a tool for keeping safe on the road. Thus, the law only allows you to honk when avoiding damage or injury.

How do I change its sound?

Changing the horn’s sound for your car is one of the simplest DIY modification tasks you’ll ever perform on your vehicle. But, that doesn’t eliminate the need to have basic mechanical knowledge.

First, you’ll need to locate the position of the horn and the nature of the wiring. Most cars have this device in front. You should see it when you open the hood. 

Some cars come with pre-made solutions, making the process much easier. You’ll need to cut and join the wires for those with no such solutions to accomplish the relevant electrical connections. 

Find the location of the horn and determine how it attaches to the vehicle. That may sometimes mean removing other components to get to the original horns. Follow the connections to replace the horn. If your tubes are color-coordinated, ensure that you attach them to correspondingly colored connectors.

Changing the sound of horns is possible and easy. But, you have to ensure that you’re on the right side of the local laws.


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