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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 3:44 pm 
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Location: San Jose, Ca
Delivery Date: 10 May 2011
Leaf Number: 2331
UPDATE JAN 12 - Revised instructions for dealing with the coolant overflow tank. Clarified horn wiring.
UPDATE - added instructions for access from under the car, and a video of before and after.

I don't know what it is with the horns on Hybrids and other Eco cars. They all seem to have horns that were designed by Droopy Dawg. For me that just does not work, I want a horn that shouts respect when I am in the Slow lane and someone tries to mix it up with me!

In the past my weapon of choice has been the 118db Hella SuperTone Twin Horn Kit. These bad boys will make a dead person jump!

But at the recommendation of several of my Leaf owner friends, I decided to try the FIAMM 74100 El Grande - Twin Horns. At $16.60, they are a real value, they sound like my old 68 Buick, blast at 110db, and have a real tone of refinement. These horns are PnP, and don't need a relay to operate.

Replacing the stock horn is relatively easy, you can do it from the top of the car or from the bottom, I chose to go in from the top which I think is easiest, and here is how I did it. If you want to install some horns too, go for it, but if you screw something up, it's on you!

First off make sure the car is off, and in a comfortable place to work.

Accessing the Horn from the top of the car
Next open the hood and remove the front bezel that covers the radiators. It is held in with way too many pop fasteners, but they are easily removable with a small screwdriver to pry them up.

Image

You are going to be working in the area in the front where the windshield washer fluid container neck and the coolant overflow tank is.

If you look down into the car where the coolant overflow tank is you can see the stock horn.

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To easily get at the horn, you need to get the coolant overflow tank out of the way.

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It is held in with 2 bolts, and has 2 small hoses at the bottom of the tank that go to the 2 coolant systems in the car. Make sure that the cap is on the tank tightly, and simply remove the two bolts and lift the tank up and rest in on the crossmember bar as shown.

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Now you have plenty of room to get at the old horn and to install the new ones.

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Accessing the horn from under the car - Thanks to Tony Williams for use of his underside photos

This requires you to crawl under the car to remove the front underbody panel. This is probably best done by driving the car up on ramps, putting the car on jack stands, or on a lift. Use extreme car when working under the car, make sure that the parking brake is set, and that your lifting method is secure. Proceed at your own risk.

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The underbody panel is made of some sort of soft lightweight material and is there primarily for aerodynamic reasons. It is fastened to the body with 6 10mm bolts and 6 pop fasteners. Note the 2 front outside bolts are longer than the rest and do not have philips screw heads.

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After you get the cover removed, the horn is accessible. Note from this view you can see the bottom of the coolant overflow tank.

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The stock horn is held on a short bracket that is bolted to the center brace with a 12mm bolt. Take out the horn and bracket, and disconnect the power and ground leads.

The new horn assembly had to brackets to hold them apart, bolt the brackets and a ground lug to the horns securely. A good idea is to add a drop of Loctite to the horn bolts. Make sure that when you install your horns, that they are pointing DOWN, so they don't collect water.

TIP: Stick a piece of masking tape in the 12mm socket that you are using to tighten down the horn bracket bolt. This will help prevent you dropping the bolt and it getting stuck under the radiator crossmember and the belly pan. If you do drop the bolt you can use a magnetic reaching stick to fish it out, or pop a few of the belly pan fasteners along the corner of the pan and reach in and retrieve the bolt. Either way is a pain, so be careful!

IMPORTANT: Make sure you do not have the horn wiring crimped under the horn bracket before you tighten down the bracket. If you crimp the wiring you may short out the horn circuit and blow the horn fuse.

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To wire up the new horns to the existing wiring, I made a short pigtail for the power lead. The stock ground line goes to the ground lug that is bolted to the horn bracket.

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Make sure that that the single power lug (which plugs into the existing horn power connector) is a male blade.

Now you are ready to install the new horn assembly. The two horns and their brackets get bolted to the original horn bracket, and that in-turn gets bolted to the car's center brace. Connect your power and ground wires to the power pigtail and to the ground lug respectively.

IMPORTANT: The power lead (the one that you connect the pigtail to) is the SHORTER cable. The ground wire is the LONGER cable. Don't mix them up or you will blow the horn fuse!

I stuck a piece of shrink tubing over the power connector to pigtail connection, just to make sure there was no chance of shorting. I would highly recommend this.

Image

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Give your new horns a try, and if they work, then reinstall the coolant overflow tank, and the top cover, and you are done!

Enjoy! For me this was the best $16.50 and hour of my time that I have spent all week!

They sound great. Get a pair and see for yourself!

Here is a short video of before and after, Credit: mwalsh:

"Horns before and after"

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Placed Reservation: 4/20/2010
Order Placed: 10/05/10
Order Confirmed: 4/11/2011
Manufactured: 3/28/2011
VIN: 2331
Delivery May 10 2011
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Last edited by OrientExpress on Sun Jan 15, 2012 2:34 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: DIY Horn Upgrade Mod
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 5:08 pm 
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Or you can just take off the bottom cover in a couple minutes and have direct access to the horns without removing the washer fluid. Took me 5 minutes.

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 Post subject: Re: DIY Horn Upgrade Mod
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 6:50 pm 
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Joined: Sun Aug 08, 2010 12:22 pm
Posts: 624
Location: San Jose, Ca
Delivery Date: 10 May 2011
Leaf Number: 2331
EVDRIVER wrote:
Or you can just take off the bottom cover in a couple minutes and have direct access to the horns without removing the washer fluid. Took me 5 minutes.


Yeah that is the other way of doing it. I did't feel like being on my back to do it, but in the end either method works just fine.

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LEAF SL+QC
Blue Ocean
Placed Reservation: 4/20/2010
Order Placed: 10/05/10
Order Confirmed: 4/11/2011
Manufactured: 3/28/2011
VIN: 2331
Delivery May 10 2011
44,000 miles and not a single problem to date!
eTec Accepted/Blink Installed


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 Post subject: Re: DIY Horn Upgrade Mod
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 8:17 pm 
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Location: Oceanside, Ca.
Delivery Date: 08 Jan 2011
Leaf Number: 0175
Thanks for the great DIY thread plus pics. It's easy to say "do it this way", but to take the time to post step-by-step pics is fantastic! :mrgreen:

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 Post subject: Re: DIY Horn Upgrade Mod
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 8:25 pm 
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My Stebel Nautilus air horn just arrived at my front door from Twisted Throttle.

Looking forward to putting that on the car in the morning.

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 Post subject: Re: DIY Horn Upgrade Mod
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 8:36 pm 
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Location: Aliso Viejo, CA
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Nice thread! I am losing track of all the different horns/LEDs people are using. We need a Mods category for all this stuff so we can keep it straight.

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 Post subject: Re: DIY Horn Upgrade Mod
PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2011 10:23 pm 
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Good job, great pics, good directions!

The removal of the coolant hoses gives me pause, though. I'd be concerned about introducing air bubbles into the coolant lines. How do you avoid the air gap between the clamp on the hose and hose's end when pushing the hose back onto the fitting?

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 Post subject: Re: DIY Horn Upgrade Mod
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 6:55 am 
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Joined: Sun Aug 08, 2010 12:22 pm
Posts: 624
Location: San Jose, Ca
Delivery Date: 10 May 2011
Leaf Number: 2331
aqn wrote:
Good job, great pics, good directions!

The removal of the coolant hoses gives me pause, though. I'd be concerned about introducing air bubbles into the coolant lines. How do you avoid the air gap between the clamp on the hose and hose's end when pushing the hose back onto the fitting?


Air is not an issue, because the overflow tank is on the unpressurized side of the coolant system(s).

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LEAF SL+QC
Blue Ocean
Placed Reservation: 4/20/2010
Order Placed: 10/05/10
Order Confirmed: 4/11/2011
Manufactured: 3/28/2011
VIN: 2331
Delivery May 10 2011
44,000 miles and not a single problem to date!
eTec Accepted/Blink Installed


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 Post subject: Re: DIY Horn Upgrade Mod
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 7:45 am 
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Location: Laguna Hills, Orange Co, CA
Delivery Date: 29 Mar 2011
Leaf Number: 000855
If you do not have two clamps, two plugs might be suitable. The clamp-end of a drill bit might work.

If you open the Filler Reservoir lids, the fluid in the "overflow" lines should run down, almost completely, into the Expansion Tank, right?

The "bubble" will either be pushed into the Expansion Tank, or will be "sucked" back into the fluid Reservoir. In either case, it should not cause a problem.

I assume that without raising the car's front end (jacks or ramps), that working under the front end requires somebody MUCH thinner than I am. :D

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 Post subject: Re: DIY Horn Upgrade Mod
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 7:51 am 
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TonyWilliams wrote:
My Stebel Nautilus air horn just arrived at my front door from Twisted Throttle.

Looking forward to putting that on the car in the morning.



I assume you bought the louder and better auto model not the compact moto version which is not the same output and tone? This horn will require the addition of a relay and power feed so you can't just use the factory wires.

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