Cars

My new car’s horn suddenly went from honk to beep

John Paul, AAA Northeast's Car Doctor, answers a question from a reader whose new car needed a repair to its horn.

AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Q. I purchased a new 2022 Infiniti several months ago. The car has just about 1,600 miles on it. Recently the car’s horn began making a low beep instead of a loud honk. I took it to the dealer and the work order stated: “Found low horn inoperative due to break in ground circuit, re-soldered to correct concern.” My question is, will this repair be permanent, or should the harness have been replaced?

A. I’m perfectly comfortable with soldering as a repair. A properly repaired circuit should be serviceable for the life of the car. Keep in mind that nearly everything electronic has a soldered joint.

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Q. After a cold start, my Lexus RX 350 is extremely noisy for the first ten minutes. It sounds like an old car tappet or valve noise – making this luxury vehicle sound like an old Singer sewing machine. Lexus says, “That’s the way they all sound.” I find this very hard to believe, as the noise was not there when the car was new, but developed after about 8,000 miles. Am I going to have to live with this irritation for the next 17 months of the lease? 

A. Years back, Lexus engines were making some odd noises when cold and the issue was addressed with a technical service bulletin, but in my experience today the engines are quite quiet. I would ask the dealer to explain what the noise is and also compare the car to a similar make and model. Unfortunately, it may be a characteristic of the engine. 

Q. I recently took my car to a local auto service shop for an oil change and the shop made service recommendations that I now fear I did not need. I own a 2015 Acura with about 78,000 miles. Their recommendation was to have the power steering fluid and the brake fluid exchanged, as they said the fluids looked dirty. I agreed, but when the invoice came at $327, I started thinking that maybe they just needed to make a sale. What am I trying to confirm is whether or not their recommendation was necessary.

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A. There is no specific recommendation from Acura to replace the brake or power steering fluid as routine service during the life of the car (although interestingly some Honda models do). If the fluid is dirty or contaminated it certainly makes sense to change it, but it may not have been necessary. Typically, at AAA we do recommend brake fluid replacement every three to five years.

Q. I was told by a local Toyota dealer that a law prohibits a floor mat to be on top of a mat on the driver’s side. To protect my floor mats, I added some carpet remnants. They removed the carpet and I had to put it back. Do you know of any such law?

A. There is no such law. Now with that said, one of the reasons that some Toyota products years ago may have had unintended acceleration issues was with the floor-mat getting stuck on top of the gas pedal. This is why floor mats in most cars have anchor points. Personally, I would get rid of the carpet remnants. If you are worried about the factory mats getting dirty over winter, change them out for winter mats. Rubber winter mats are bigger and have grooves to hold snow, water, and sand.

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Q. If my Ford Taurus sits for three or four days, it won’t start. If I get a jump start it fires right up. My battery and starter were fine and everything else tested okay. Could it be a sensor or fuel pump?

A. If the car starts with a jump and the battery is fully charged, I would look for an electrical problem. On some Ford vehicles, the battery ground cable has been known to cause intermittent no-start problems. A technician with a voltmeter will perform a “voltage-drop” test to determine the cause of your car’s intermittent no-start problem.

John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over 40 years of experience in the automotive business and is an ASE-certified master technician. E-mail your car question to [email protected] Listen to the Car Doctor podcast at johnfpaul.podbean.com.

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