Piston Slap: B-bodies Shall Master the Road Once More! (Part II)

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap b bodies shall master the road once more part ii

Timothy 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?

[Image: Shutterstock user JazzBoo]

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.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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2 of 31 comments
  • Someoldfool Someoldfool on May 03, 2019

    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 $$?

  • Windy Windy on May 03, 2019

    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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