By on May 3, 2019

1994 Buick Roadmaster Interior Dashboard Steering Wheel, Image: momentcar.comTimothy writes:

Sir, I have a problem with my 1994 Buick Roadmaster. You remember the one that I inherited from my parents but didn’t care for the way it rode? Yeah, that one.

I followed a lot of your advice in making it a much more desirable car for me: big sway bars, rebuilt the front suspension with police grade goodies. Same with brakes. Redid the steering box, too! But now there’s a problem: the darn thing keeps blowing its horn!

Usually I’m in a store when it goes off and the call comes over the loudspeaker that my car is screaming at the top of its lungs. And those triple horns are loud!

Please tell me how to get this fixed!

Sajeev answers:

You previously mentioned you’d let a mechanic address complex(?) things, but it’s time to get a full set of GM service manuals (including wiring diagrams) and up your game!

A stuck horn is, in theory, a simple fix to a simple system.

I’ll randomly assume the horn circuit/relay is fine, it’s likely the steering wheel airbag’s horn pad stuck in the “on” position. Designs vary, but the system is usually two metal plates suspended from each other, closing when you push the horn button.  The suspension is either via something terrible (like structural foam that turns to dust after 15+ years) or a spring-loaded suspension. When the separating technology fails, the horn just won’t shut up!

This video shows the easy way to defeat the airbag horn switch. Which you could certainly do…

Considering you’ve done an admirable job on my suggested OEM+ upgrades from B-body sister ship Chevy Caprice/Impala, it’d be nice if you fixed/replaced the airbag.

If you’re lucky, finding an NOS airbag will be easy and somewhat cheap. If not, dissect another airbag from a junkyard for practice: disassemble it in a static electricity free zone, do not mess with the ignitor, and get to the horn pad.

Is there a part number on the pad assembly? If so, look it up on eBay/Rearcounter and get a new one. If not, can you do anything to restore that aforementioned suspension back to new again?

If all else fails, do the external button/switch as seen in the above video. But get a spare steering wheel if you want the buttons in the rims, please!

What say you, Best and Brightest?


Send your queries to [email protected]com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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29 Comments on “Piston Slap: B-bodies Shall Master the Road Once More! (Part II)...”

  • avatar


    “Hey Mister, your horn blows, do you?”

  • avatar

    Hyundai likes the steering wheel design so much they put it in their new Sonata.

    • 0 avatar

      Tail lights dont work

      Hyundai and Kia are Piles of Crap.


      Oh yeah, and the resale. (the TRUE judge of value.) Brutal. Real Brutal. Loser in just about EVERY class of car.

      • 0 avatar

        Where did your H/K beef start? There are a few ppl like you on this site who copy/paste their vitriol for a particular brand, but most of them I’ve heard their backstory. What’s yours? It’d make the rants less cringeworthy to come across if I knew.

        • 0 avatar

          Have you ever owned or driven a Hyundai or Kia? There has been a few in my family over the past ~15 years and all have been fairly reliable if bland. I think the worst that has happened is a snapped strut on a 10 year old rondo due to the rust that eventually kills all cars in southern Ontario.

  • avatar

    Happened to my ’84 Ford Escort. Pre-Airbag, I tore the steering wheel facia off and disconnected the horn at 3am. That came in handy for the next night’s horn blast. I managed to bend the dimpled metal plates apart myself.

    The car was less than 4 years old at the time, and I think the problem was how I vented my youthful anger and frustration on the center of the steering wheel with my fists.

    • 0 avatar

      Is there any reason you wouldn’t have just disconnected the horn at the horn until cooler heads prevailed instead of ripping your steering wheel apart? I mean my first thought is opening the hood and grabbing a horn wire

  • avatar

    We had the opposite problem with my wife’s “farm truck”, a massive, hulking F250 (stick, 4×4, push bar)… horn at all, which the state frowns upon at inspection time. I told my trusted local shop to fix it in the quickest/simplest fashion possible, which I figured would entail a separate button on the dash. To my surprise the new horn works from the center of the steering wheel as original, however it now sounds like a 1975 VW Beetle horn LOL

    • 0 avatar

      Sounds to me like they simply disconnected the faulty horn, so you’re only driving one of the two notes most cars (and trucks) use.

      • 0 avatar

        Pretty sure it was always a single-note, it’s a “Custom” model which near as I can tell means “base model with carpet”……

        • 0 avatar

          Wouldn’t bet on it. Most cars (edit: carried) dual horns, each with a separate note that when combined, harmonizes to something like G-sharp for better penetration.

          Had a horn fail on one of my cars and it, too, had that VW note until I replaced it.

          • 0 avatar

            Yeah dual note has been very common over the years but it was at one point on some vehicles an option. My total base model Scout came with only a single horn while the one with the Deluxe Interior package came with 2. You could get the dual note as a stand alone option, if I remember right from my order guides it was something like $3.50.

    • 0 avatar

      My Hyundai, which was a POS, had two horns. The lower pitched one, which of course was the one that broke, required removing the bumper to get to. The higher pitched one was right behind the grill and would have been a piece of cake.

      So yep, the last few years that I kept it it cheeped like a frightened chipmunk.

  • avatar

    I always thought it would be cool to install a set of air horns like the big rigs have – Get Out Of My Way!!! Stop The Texting, Get Moving!!! You Almost Got T Boned!!! Dare You Cut In Front Of Me !!! BAAAAAAAAA!!!!!

  • avatar

    As an aside, my dearly departed ’94 Buick Roadmaster that I bought used had the towing package with the 3.08 (from memory) rear gears, heavier sway bars, oil and transmission cooler. It was a sort of brown grandpa sleeper Caprice SS for $3800.

    I still miss that car but even with the F41 suspension package, I would never have called it a good handling car. Just too much bulk. But it was one of the smoothest road cars I’ve ever owned, like it was designed to get over the worst of Michigan roads.

  • avatar

    Another potential cause, considering all the work that’s been done, could well be in the horn wiring… with the insulation worn through at a contact point allowing a short to ground somewhere. It leads me to ask how he manages to silence the horn once it goes off.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah the traditional way that the GM horn relay works is that you provide a ground to activate it. Back in the day a short on that wire was not an uncommon reason for the horn to honk seemingly randomly.

  • avatar

    had a 1992 roadmaster way back in 03. even as an 11 year old car it was a totally unreliable pile of crap. had nothing but problems with it. sure, it was a beautiful car with all the gizmos. white/grey leather, limited package, moonroof, air suspension, lumbar controls, had a bunch of other stuff i didnt see in cars till years later. very ahead of its time. just a total pile of junk that spent more time in my driveway with me wrenching on it then i ever got to drive it.

    • 0 avatar

      Never knew B Bodies to be labeled as unreliable? I’ve had mine for 22 years: sure a water pump here, some axle bearings, a water pump etc. Usually about $250 for parts per year after the 12 year age mark. Cheap driving in my opinion. Now, the 4L60E is a little weak if you are not easy on the unit when towing, but even then, $1,800 replacement is very reasonable. No tranny probs. for me, so all is good.

      • 0 avatar

        My Dad has a 120,000 plus mile 1996 Caprice that was elderly owned. Other than some light rust from being in Ohio and a couple of broken interior trim pieces it has been rock solid for him.

    • 0 avatar

      Another reason to buy new and then get rid of it if having too much trouble- WARRANTY ! you were the schmuck somebody got rid of to. ;-)

      • 0 avatar

        Counterpoint: I lost less money in depreciation in 8 years on my ’99 Miata than I would’ve in the first year of ownership had I bought a new one. Then there’s the fact that the purchase price was a quarter of a new one; ie: lots of saved opportunity cost. That pays for a lot of maintenance.

        My Mazda 3 was three years old with 25k miles and cost me 35% less than the original owner paid for it. I also got tinted windows, factory spoiler, factory winter floor mats, and a set of RX-8 wheels with high performance Michelin tires as well as a second set of 17″ wheels mounted with winter tires included.

  • avatar

    If the problem with the Roadmaster’s horn is indeed the switch in the wheel on the air bag, what about replacing the steering wheel? How hard would it be to find a junkyard wheel that’s intact and the right color? Or, how about an after market wheel, like some Momo or other? Too much $$?

  • avatar

    My folks had a 1967 M-benz 250SE they got on European delivery that they drove around Europe on a work assignment for my Dad that year Saved a huge import tax by bringing it home as a used car (15,000+ miles) it had a few options that they did not order or pay for and they never did find out why… a single piece forged ball trailer hitch and two sets of horns; one the normal benz horn of the period, and the other, a much louder pair, fixed below the front bumper for use on the autobahn. There was a switch with a light in the middle on the dashboard to select which one you wanted… neither of these options appeared ob the build list and there were a few other minor items like a large first aid kit. And one huge item, a large can of limited slip differential oil to go with the also not ordered or payed for limited slip differential. The folks loved that car and kept it for 30+ years and over 300,000 miles but never did find the reason for all the free extras. It had beautiful dark green leather upholstery that was my Mothers extravagance on the order.

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