The only car I’ve ever owned that had decent factory horns was a Porsche 911SC, which was equipped with proper Autobahn blasters to move inattentive slower cars into the right lane right now. All others—and especially all the Japanese makes—needed serious upgrades to perform at a level I consider acceptable. I don’t use my horn very often, but when I do I want it to capture its target’s undivided attention. This has become significantly more important in the age of texting—which studies have show to be more dangerous than drunk driving. Why? Drunk drivers, at least, are generally paying attention because they know they’re drunk and they don’t want to alert the police. Texting by definition requires one to remove all one’s attention from the road.

Thus all of our vehicles carry Hella horns of one model or another. They’re affordable, starting around $20 or so, and all have an authoritarian tone. My favorites are the twin or triple-trumpet air-powered models, which have a lovely teeth-on-edge screech, but the lesser models such as the ones here are still excellent.

These went on Roseann’s mother’s RAV4, which we have taken over since she gave up driving at 90 and is now allowing us to chauffeur her around town. The stock horn on this vehicle was even worse than most Japanese horns, which tend to sound like sheep bleating. This one sounded like an asthmatic sheep bleating.


Of course, being a modern vehicle, removing the “grille” on the RAV to access the horns actually involved peeling off the entire plastic front end of the thing . . .


. . . which, thanks to a helpful YouTube video describing the location of the hidden fasteners, only took about ten minutes.

After that it was easy. The Hellas require a separate ground wire, which I simply connected to each horn’s mounting bolt. The result is a huge improvement. I’m going to go hunt for texters.


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