The horn relay is the electronic component that is a part of the vehicle’s horn circuit. It serves as the relay that controls power to the vehicle’s horn. When current is applied to the relay, the horn’s power circuit is completed, allowing the horn to function and ring. Most relays are located in the fuse box underneath the hood. When the relay fails it can leave the vehicle without a functioning horn. Usually a faulty horn relay will produce a few symptoms that can alert the driver of a potential issue.
1. Non-functioning horn
One of the first symptoms of an issue with the horn relay is a non-functioning horn. The horn relay is one of the components responsible for delivering power to the horn circuit. If the relay fails it will leave the horn without any power to function.
2. Clicking sound from the relay
Another symptom of a potential issue with the horn relay is a clicking sound from underneath the hood. A shorted or faulty relay may cause the component to produce a clicking sound when the hood button is pressed. The clicking sound may be a sign that the relay has failed internally, and may also render the horn unuseable.
3. Burning smell from underneath the hood
A burning smell from horn relay is another common symptom of an issue with the relay. If the relay burns out, which is not uncommon, it will produce a burning smell. In more severe cases may even result in the relay burning or melting. The relay will have to be replaced in order for the horn to be returned to full functionality.
As with any electrical component on a vehicle the horn relay can eventually fail and cause issues. If you suspect that your vehicle’s horn relay may be having an issue, have the vehicle inspected by a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic, to determine if the relay should be replaced.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Horn Relay and was authored by Eduardo Ruelas.