Bad Car-ma

Bad Car-ma

A few nights ago, I was awakened by what sounded like a blaring alarm.  It wailed and wailed and echoed through the hills in my Northeast L.A. neighborhood.  I wondered if someone’s house was being broken into.  I wondered if another car in my neighborhood was being vandalized.  I got paranoid, so I woke up to go look out the window.

Upon a quick scan of the street, I saw my second car—a 1991 Mazda Protege–sitting at the curb.  “My car doesn’t have an alarm,” I thought, so I went back to bed.

That pesky alarm kept sounding.

This time, I went outside (yes, I know that’s why people in horror flicks get killed) and realized my Mazda was outperforming what even I thought it was capable of, by blaring its horn more loudly than any SUV I’ve ever seen.

I pulled on the horn pad.  Nothing.  I punched the horn pad.  Nothing.  I fiddled with wires.  Nothing.  I tried to pull out fuses.  Nothing.  I finally just turned on the “Protege” (or in my play off the Spanish, “Protector”) and the horn stopped.

I went back to bed.  An hour and a half later, the car again demanded my attention.  I again performed the crazed pulling, tugging, running around ritual. 

This time when I punched the horn pad, the car stopped and I hated that brute force was the only way to shut my car down.

Being a resourceful woman, I went to my computer and googled “Mazda” and “horn” and “Protege.”  And, as if a miracle of the modern world, the “Car Talk” guys had done a segment on the problem. 

It seems that this week’s cold snap, where evening temperatures dipped into the 30s and low 40s, made certain parts of my horn contract.  That then causes the horn to blare. 

Click and Clack suggested pulling wires or replacing the horn–but, despite their usefulness in identifying the problem, I still can’t figure out which wires to pull and I don’t have time to get the horn replaced.

So, until the mercury rises, I’ll just be resourceful and pull the fuse when I get out of the car and replace it when I get back in (turns out the horn fuse also controls the brake lights).  The act should amuse my colleagues and unnerve the security guards at work, but hey, when you have to get around, you do what you can.

© Laura Genao 2006

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