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Old 5th July 2015, 21:17   #1
gpa
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Default DIY: Upgrading the Horn!

One of the biggest weaknesses of the Honda Brio is its meek sounding horn. Although I use the horn sparingly when driving in the city, on the past few highway drives to Ooty and Mysore, I found the stock horn woefully inadequate as numb-skulled imbecile drivers on the highway, stray cattle and jay walking villagers all seemed least bothered by the Brio's puny 'peep-peeep'. With a few more highway drives coming up, I decided it was time was a horn upgrade.

I have a pair of Roots Windtone horns working flawlessly on my Alto since the past 5+ years and so decided against the similar setup for the Brio. A little research online and I decided to go in for a Hella Sharp Tone dual horn setup. Ordered the horns and hella horn relay with wiring harness on June 29 and they were delivered to me on Friday (July 3) - just in time for this DIY over the weekend.

The Box
DIY: Upgrading the Horn!-pic-00.jpg

DIY: Upgrading the Horn!-pic-00a.jpg

DIY: Upgrading the Horn!-pic-00b.jpg

Referential Size
DIY: Upgrading the Horn!-pic-00c.jpg

Hella Horn Relay and Wiring Harness
DIY: Upgrading the Horn!-relay-harness.jpg

The Connectors Needed
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Tools Needed
  • Hella Sharp Tone Horns - check Amazon/eBay for best deals
  • Hella Horn Relay with Wiring Harness - check Amazon/eBay for best deals
  • Flathead screwdrivers
  • 12 mm spanner
  • 10 mm spanner
  • A roll of insulation tape
  • Heat shrink tubing
  • Solder gun
  • 5 Female, 1 Spade Type and 2 Ring Type connectors
  • A pair of pliers
  • Wire cutter and stripper
  • WD-40

Time Taken for this DIY: Approximately 2 hours

Step 1: Disconnect the negative terminal from the battery. This is the most IMPORTANT step before attempting any DIY on the car.

Step 2: The Hella horn relay and wiring harness that I ordered had only two female connectors to plug into the horns and also the 5 inch ground leads had ring type connectors and not spade connectors necessitating some modification. I needed to cut the ends of, crimp-on the right connectors and use heat shrink tubing to cover it up and then roll on some insulation tape.

Although the connectors I have had rubber insulators, my experience has been that these turn brittle in a matter of months and break thanks to the thermal variations every day as the horn mounted in the engine bay. It is better to use heat shrink and insulation tape since they withstands thermal variations far better. The harness comes with its own 30 amp fuse neatly integrated in a plastic casing so the car's fuse will stay safe should something go wrong.

Step 3: Disconnect the stock horn from the car.
DIY: Upgrading the Horn!-pic-01.jpg
The stock horn in the Brio sits low and in front of the a/c condensor. If you are attempting this DIY a few years after buying the car, you will notice that the press-fit connector would have gotten stuck and the nut behind the horn will be hard to budge too. Spraying some WD-40 on these parts and letting them soak for a while makes your job of disconnecting and unbolting them much easier. Use a small 10 mm spanner to turn the bolt counterclockwise to remove it.

Step 4: Unhook the plastic press-fit clamps and reroute the stock horn wire upwards towards the right headlamp. Honda has given a few spare holes on the chassis and cross member so you will easily find a place to push in clamps in a new location.
DIY: Upgrading the Horn!-pic-06.jpg

DIY: Upgrading the Horn!-pic-05.jpg

Step 5: The press-fit connector to the OEM horn is a single positive (+ve) trigger wire that leads from the horn button. This connector needs to be cut. Yes, although I didn't want to cut the connector, there was no way to get a male pin small enough to push into the existing connector.
DIY: Upgrading the Horn!-pic-04.jpg
After cutting the wire of the connector, I crimped a female connector to it and crimped another male connector to the lead from the Hella horn relay and press fit those together. I then ran heat shrink tubing over the joint and fused them for a water-tight seal. After that I rolled on some insulation tape and neatly tucked it into the protective piping for a clean fit.

Warning: Be careful when wielding a solder gun in the tight confines of the engine bay when using the heat shrink tubing since one wrong move and you'll touch the rubber a/c hoses which can get damaged.

Unfortunately, I was so focused on getting the job done right, I missed clicking any photos of the work-in-progress and hence the photo here is of the finished work. I hope my description is enough to anyone who wants to attempt this DIY.

Step 6: Using a 10 mm spanner, loosen and remove the bolt that holds one side of the ABS pump located near the nozzle of the windscreen washer reservoir. Run the bolt through the hole in the head of the relay and plug in the wiring harness. Replace the bolt and tighten for a neat fit.
DIY: Upgrading the Horn!-pic-010.jpg

Step 7: Run the wiring harness neatly across the front bonnet apron and using zip ties, lock them into place while guiding the wires through towards the left headlamp cluster.
DIY: Upgrading the Horn!-pic-07.jpg

Step 8: Mount the Hella horns on the clamp which earlier housed the OEM horn using the original 12 mm bolt.
DIY: Upgrading the Horn!-pic-02.jpg

Make sure to connect to the negative terminal on both horns and run the ring connectors through the bolt that will hold the horns in place. Before make the bolt tight, make sure there is adequate space between the horns so they don't touch since the vibrations will distort the sound of the horn.

Step 9: Push the female connectors (green and blue wires from the wiring harness) onto the positive terminals of both horn. Connect the negative terminal of the battery and press the horn pad on the steering wheel to check if the horns are working before fitting the horns back. This is to ensure the horn works and the connections are right so you don't have to unbolt everything once you've fitted it.
DIY: Upgrading the Horn!-pic-08.jpg

Step 9: There are some pre-drilled holes on the front apron which can be used to fit the old clamp of the OEM horn. Again, use the same 10 mm bolt provided and fit a new nut at the bottom which will hold the horns in place. Ease the horns past the battery case and air filter casing - this is a fiddly job and will test the dexterity of your fingers so be patient while you attempt trying to thread the nut to the bolt.
DIY: Upgrading the Horn!-pic-03.jpg

Step 10: Before tightening the nuts, make sure the horns don't touch any metal part of the front apron to ensure there are no vibrations and jarring noises when the horn is used. Notice the zip tie used to secure the wires from the harness in place.
DIY: Upgrading the Horn!-pic-09.jpg

From the outside this is where the horns are positioned
DIY: Upgrading the Horn!-pic-011.jpg

This is a nice place to mount the new Hella horns since they are shielded by the left headlamp cluster and bumper from any water spray. I have read reviews about these horns being sensitive to water splashes and so in this setup they are protected well.

Incidentally, Hella positions the Sharp Tone horns as being suitable for off-road driving offering the ultimate performance yet, it is best to play it safe when a few customer reviews have mentioned them being averse to water splashes.
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Performance: The Hella Sharp Tone horns are a notch below the Hella Super Tone horns (red grills) and have a tone closer to an OEM horn only being much louder and clearer in tone. The horns are 118 decibels loud and are sure to wake up a jaywalking fool from his reverie when used on the highway.

Although, I have installed these horns, I will exercise restraint when using them within the city and urge all others (those who have powerful horns installed in their vehicles) owners to do so as well to curb the honking menace.
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Old 6th July 2015, 21:58   #2
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Default Re: DIY: Upgrading the Horn!

Nice detailed DIY gpa! Regarding the car is it still under warranty coverage? My 2011 Honda City too suffers from the same problem i.e. an extremely meek horn which is just horrible to use on the highways. Also it keeps malfunctioning, already running the third set, 2 replaced under warranty. When I asked Honda after sales support if I could get the horns changed at a local accessory shop, they immediately said my warranty coverage would be taken away (had got 2 years extended warranty) . So wanted to ask if the case is the same for you or if the car is out of warranty.

Thanks,
Regards,
Swamyzen
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Old 6th July 2015, 23:01   #3
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Default Re: DIY: Upgrading the Horn!

Quote:
Originally Posted by swamyzen View Post
Nice detailed DIY gpa! Regarding the car is it still under warranty coverage?
Thanks, swamyzen. My car is in its last year (4th year) of warranty and since I've been struggling on my highway drives I decided to go ahead. However this is a clean DIY and fingers crossed I won't have any problems.
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Old 7th July 2015, 09:18   #4
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Default Re: DIY: Upgrading the Horn!

Hi gpa, thanks for the nice description. While reading, came running a lot of memories in my mind when I used to accompany my grandfather as his apprentice while he did DIY stuff in his old Amby.I have also previously performed a similar DIY in my ford Ikon and Wagon R as well
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Old 7th July 2015, 09:27   #5
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Default Re: DIY: Upgrading the Horn!

Great write up gpa. Followed similar steps to upgrade my Honda City horns to to Roots couple of years back

Last edited by GTO : 7th July 2015 at 14:17. Reason: Honda City, not ANHC
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Old 7th July 2015, 10:09   #6
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Default Re: DIY: Upgrading the Horn!

@GPA-Excellent DIY,thanks for penning it down,though i am a bit surprised as to why the wiring harness was not a direct fit. Nevertheless I found the red grill quite apt for indian road conditions,has a nice shrill. In my swift I have 2 sets of horns,one for the city ( Seger trumpets) and one for the highway (Roots vibrosonic).
Regarding the mounting,for optimum performance it is always better to have separate mounts because horns vibrate when they sound.As you have mounted on one single bolt do keep an eye on the mounting as it might get loose over the period of time.
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Old 7th July 2015, 10:44   #7
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Default Re: DIY: Upgrading the Horn!

Quote:
Originally Posted by rakesh_r View Post
@GPA-Excellent DIY,thanks for penning it down,though i am a bit surprised as to why the wiring harness was not a direct fit.
The OEM connector from the wire is a single +ve lead and connects to one single pin on the horn. Its a horn designed for Honda trying to get an aftermarket male connector to fit was impossible. I'll post a few photos if needed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rakesh_r View Post
Regarding the mounting,for optimum performance it is always better to have separate mounts because horns vibrate when they sound.As you have mounted on one single bolt do keep an eye on the mounting as it might get loose over the period of time.
Thanks for brining this up, I am aware of this and will keep an eye out. I have used self tightening washers between the nut and bolt so they don't loosen over time. Have a similar setup on my Alto and I've never had the horns coming loose thus far although I check them when I clean the engine bay.
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Old 8th July 2015, 09:02   #8
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Default Re: DIY: Upgrading the Horn!

Quote:
Originally Posted by rakesh_r View Post
Regarding the mounting,for optimum performance it is always better to have separate mounts because horns vibrate when they sound.As you have mounted on one single bolt do keep an eye on the mounting as it might get loose over the period of time.
+1

See if you can use rubber washers (can be made from discarded butyl rubber tube) as spacer between the mounting plates and mounting holes, will act as damper. Also use loctite or something similar to keep the fasteners in place.
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Old 8th July 2015, 09:22   #9
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Default Re: DIY: Upgrading the Horn!

Quote:
Originally Posted by autocrat View Post
See if you can use rubber washers (can be made from discarded butyl rubber tube) as spacer between the mounting plates and mounting holes, will act as damper. Also use loctite or something similar to keep the fasteners in place.
Using rubber mountings for horns is a bad idea. Since horns vibrate, they need the stiffest mounting possible. Adding rubber washers will make them vibrate even more.
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Old 8th July 2015, 09:45   #10
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Default Re: DIY: Upgrading the Horn!

Quote:
Originally Posted by SunnyBoi View Post
Using rubber mountings for horns is a bad idea. Since horns vibrate, they need the stiffest mounting possible. Adding rubber washers will make them vibrate even more.
Hi SunniBoi,

I did this on my 2006 Indica, in 2008, for the ROOTS horns and it held on until I sold the car in 2012.

I had a change over switch in the storage compartment under the steering, and I had it mounted with rubber washers too.

Vibrations are undesired and they must be filtered out, and vehicle body must be isolated from vibes.
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Old 8th July 2015, 13:00   #11
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Default Re: DIY: Upgrading the Horn!

Nice DIY.
But the post is incomplete without a video showing us the Horn in action.
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Old 8th July 2015, 13:56   #12
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Default Re: DIY: Upgrading the Horn!

Quote:
Originally Posted by SunnyBoi View Post
Using rubber mountings for horns is a bad idea. Since horns vibrate, they need the stiffest mounting possible. Adding rubber washers will make them vibrate even more.
Precisely why I chose to get grooved washers which don't get lose very easily. Like I mentioned in my earlier post, I have not had any trouble with a similar mounting setup in my Alto.

Quote:
Originally Posted by autocrat View Post
Also use loctite or something similar to keep the fasteners in place.
The fasteners are absolutely tight as I crimped them to the points on both horns. I used heat shrink tubing and insulation tape over them so they don't get lose.
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Old 9th July 2015, 13:07   #13
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Default Re: DIY: Upgrading the Horn!

Since this is a horn upgrade thread, just thought of adding my experience too here. I've done a diy horn upgrade on my skoda rapid. The car has a dual horn setup from the factory, but it was too meek for my liking. The problem was that, these days most companies have individualized connector settings for the horn, compared to the crimp pin connections of after market horns. Always being a fan of factory settings, I was not too keen on wire cutting/ slicing/ crimping. After futile searches accross various accessory shops in kerala and the internet, for an adapter for the OE horn connector, I chanced upon Aliexpress & voila! they had the exact thing I was searching for. Searched for "car horn plug VW" on aliexpress & found similar adapters for other car manufacturers too. The only problem I faced with with Aliexpress is the long shipment time, mostly delayed by babus' on this side of the border. Once I got the adapters, it was a simple process of removing the old horn and plugging in the aftermarket horns with the adapter connected to stock wiring. The adapters which I procured were described as suitable for a large range of VW vehicles. I vaguely remember Hyundai/ Honda/ Mitsubishi/ adapters too listed on the site
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Old 9th July 2015, 14:57   #14
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Default Re: DIY: Upgrading the Horn!

Luckily, the 2nd Gen Jazz that I own is different in this regard when compared to City or Brio.. Has got a very audible horn!

But very informative thread regarding horns and their various replacement strategies!

Regards,
Rakesh

Last edited by ampere : 9th July 2015 at 16:36. Reason: Edited as requested
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Old 10th July 2015, 08:15   #15
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Default Re: DIY: Upgrading the Horn!

Great DIY gpa. Thanks for sharing.

One question regarding the following

Quote:
Originally Posted by gpa View Post
... Tools Needed
  • Hella Horn Relay with Wiring Harness - check Amazon/eBay for best deals
...
I have a factory fitted dual horn setup (2013 VMT trim). Do I need a separate relay or existing one should be good enough?

tia,
-BJ
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