Sunday, July 31, 2011

Weekend Mechanic: Repairing 2000 Toyota Sienna Horn

For a year or two the horn on our 2000 Sienna has worked intermittently at best. Most days when I push on horn button in the center of the steering wheel I get no response. Of course this always occurs when I need the horn most...

So, after cursing the horn on numerous occasions, I finally broke down and decided to attempt the repair. You know, when I was younger working on vehicles was something that intrigued me, but now that I'm on the backside of 40, I no longer get the same sense of excitement and adventure as I once had--The feeling I get now is that sinking feeling in my stomach, thinking, "there are so many other things I would rather be doing than twisting wrenches." Yet, because of my frugality, stubbornness, and "I can fix it!" attitude, I dutifully enter the garage....

So I pulled the Haynes manual, found the wiring diagram, and went to work. I pulled the cover from fuse & relay box under the hood and checked the fuses: all were good - check. Then I pulled the horn relay and tested it using the battery: it clicked when energized - check. Next, with the relay still pulled from its socket, I ran a jumper across the receptacles in the relay socket and the horn blasted loudly - check.

This led me to believe the trouble was between the steering wheel horn pad switch and the relay. A Google search revealed that there is no wire that grounds the steering wheel to the frame, but that the steering wheel is grounded via bearings. According to online sources (i.e., discussion boards, see this link http://www.automotiveforums.com/t894269-sienna_2000__horn_works_only_when_car_is_not_moving.html) the grease lubricating the bearings dries over time, coating the bearings in dry lubricant, which acts as an insulator. This dry grease prevents the flow of electricity from the steering housing, through the bearings, to the steering wheel. To remedy this situation you just have to lubricate the bearings. Simple! But where are these mysterious bearings? Discussion boards stated they were near the top of the steering wheel, but no photos existed. So, to help other frugal weekend mechanics I am posting photos of the bearing location here. In fact, I'll post photos of the entire process. This took me about an hour to complete the entire process.

A few disclaimers before we get started....

Disclaimer #1: The information posted is for informational use only. Use it at your own risk as the statements on this page may be completely wrong, or your vehicle may not be like mine, or your mechanical skills may be rusty, or...well, there are myriad reasons why you shouldn't attempt this repair or the information may not be valid. Caveat emptor!

Disclaimer #2: Let me say that I know my van is dirty, which is documented in the pictures. The past two places we lived had red clay soil, which stains on impact. There are also three teens in my family and occasionally our pet golden retriever rides with us, especially when we camp, so yes, we use our vehicle and it doesn't get cleaned nearly enough...surely I am not the only person in America with stained carpet and dirt on their floor (I did vacuum the van after these pictures were taken--out of guilt).

Disclaimer #3: Some of the photos are terrible. I used to be very critical of some of the out-of-focus pictures I saw on the web, but now I understand why they are so bad: Trying to get a close up shot, using only one hand, in a dark van, while holding the part being photographed with the other hand, is a feat!

So, here goes....

First, disconnect the battery. Doing this will allow you to use an ohmmeter without worry of finding a voltage by accident (which could be devastating to your meter). This will also prevent the airbag from exploding in your face, an event that would ruin your day.



Second, check the horn steering column to see if you have a good ground. This will help diagnose the problem to make certain that the effort you exert for this repair will be a good investment.

Connect your ohmmeter to a good ground. I used a battery clamp attached to the lighter plug and accessory plug (see photo). Any metal part of the car body will do for a ground, but finding a metal part on a plastic car can be difficult...



Next, check your steering column for ground. To do this make certain your meter is properly operating and connected to ground by shorting the meter leads and noting the zero on the meter. When the leads are not touching the resistance (ohms) should be infinite. With one probe connected to your "established" metal ground (the lighter plug, in my case) probe around on the care body to find another metal spot that is ground. Once you know that you have a good ground connection you can check your steering column for ground (i.e., conductivity).



To access the metal in the steering column I took a short piece of copper house wire and wrapped it around the probe tip to make a "probe extender." Take the extended probe and insert it into the narrow space between the steering wheel and the steering column. This is the only piece of metal I could find that was easily accessible (click on the photos to see a larger picture).



When you touch the extended probe to the metal at the base of this narrow gap, it should read zero ohms (i.e., it has a good ground). If you get a reading that shows resistance, then there is a good chance the problem lies in those pesky bearings. (note: the photo shows the steering column with the covers removed. You don't have to remove the covers to access this area).



Okay, now that you've determined your steering wheel is indeed not grounded, let's get those bearings greased and see if that solves your problem.

Remove the covers from the steering column. To do this you will need to first remove the kick plate, door jamb panel, and "panel sub assembly" (I don't know the correct terms for these items, so I'll describe each piece the best I can). The kick plate is the plastic cover that is adjacent to the carpet on the floor and is covered when the door is closed. Gently pull on it with some force and it will give way. I slowly pulled mine by getting my fingers underneath it on the seat-side and slowly tugging at it, trying to be careful to not break any plastic "trim retainers" hiding underneath.



Next remove the door jamb panel (this is the panel that covers the lower area of the door jamb next to the emergency brake. You'll need to removed this to access the left side bolt of the panel sub assembly). Just gently pull on this and it should come loose, being careful to not break any plastic "trim retainers" hiding underneath.



Now you can remove the lower part of the dash called the "panel sub assembly" (where coin holder is located). To do this, remove the 10mm bolts on each side of the panel sub assembly and then gently pull the piece down. You'll notice the tire air reset button is located here. I used a small flat-head screw driver to disconnect the wires from the button so I could lay this panel on the floor








You're almost there (this all sounds much worse than it is. It was really a pretty simple job, except for the 95 degree temps and 50% humidity). Next take a Phillips head screw driver and remove the three screws holding the steering column cover in place. One screw is directly under the steering column (easy to get to). The other two are located on the left and right side of the steering column, directly under the steering wheel (odd places to have a screw). To access these two you will need to rotate the steering wheel 90 degrees to the right to access the left screw and then, beginning at center again, rotate the steering wheel 90 degrees to the left to access the right screw. At this point the bottom half of the steering column cover should drop to the floor and the top should be able to be lifted up (but probably not come completely off).








Now you can see the guts of this beast. The bearings you're looking for are here (click on photo for more detail):





To clean and lube these babies use a spray lubricant with a straw (tube) stuck in the nozzle and a rag held underneath the steering column to catch the excess lubricant.



I began with some electrical contact cleaner spray. That seemed to do no good, because after spraying it into the bearings I still measured "infinite" when I placed the extended probe at the steering wheel. From there I changed my course of attack and used a multi-purpose lube (see comments below for other suggested lubricants, such as a copper lube), and this worked. I sprayed, rotated the steering wheel 90 degrees, sprayed more, rotated back the other way 180 degrees, sprayed more, etc., all the time holding a rag underneath the steering column to catch the lubricant that was trying to drip on to my "sub panel assembly" sitting on the floor (note: one reader said that on some vehicles (not a Toyota), rotating the steering while the engine was not running damaged the power steering seals. I didn't have that mishap occur, but caveat emptor!)

Another check with the ohmmeter showed that the steering wheel was grounded...yippee! I reassembled the dash, hooked up the battery--which set off the car alarm, so keep your remote for your alarm handy. I then pushed on the steering wheel horn and wha-la, it worked!

After looking at the filthy floor of the van for the past hour I decided to break out the shop vac and vacuum the front half of the van, leaving the remainder for my children to clean.

Good luck with your repairs. If anyone has other tips please share.

-Doc

75 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting - fixed my Sienna horn yesterday with this information.

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  2. Woo-hoo! My Sienna just passed the high-speed horn test! I'd had this problem for a year or so, so I was pretty sure it was the bearings, but all the other web sites I saw recommended removing the air bag and steering wheel. I wasn't ready for that.
    Thanks for your simple solution.
    Since my horn worked when the Sienna was at rest, I skipped the ohm-meter testing and just removed the steering column shield. After squirting the WD-40 in, I found the steering wheel was too hard to turn so I just started the car. I then turn the wheel to right, squirt, and then to the left and squirt. I also put paper towels inside the lower part of the shield and had no problems with leakage.

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  3. Michael & Steve, thank you for sharing your success of repairing your horn! One thing...since I made the repair I've noticed that occasionally the horn doesn't winter to work. If I were to lube the bearings agin, I think I'd add some graphite to the oil. Graphite is a conductor so it might help keep the connection grounded.
    I'm happy that my blog helped you...your comments let me know that people are finding this information helpful.
    Good luck with all you repair projects!
    - Doc

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  4. Thanks for this post. The pictures are just what I.needed to help make the fix. Other posts were good, but the pictures sealed the deal for me. Thanks again!

    C. Shelton

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  5. C. Shelton, thanks for the great feedback! I'm glad to know that the photos were helpful to you. Another suggestion I have is to add a bit of carbon (grey) graphite to the bearings too. On my van the lube seemed to work for a bit, then dried out again, causing the intermittent horn. Maybe it was the lube I used--I don't know. But graphite should improve the conductivity of the bearings. Maybe a few drops of 30 wt oil would work too :-)
    Cheers!
    -Doc

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  6. you don't know how much I appreciate you post. I have a 2000 sienna and have the exactly same problem. I went to local toyota dealership to repair. They gave me a sticker shock of $532 + tax + shop supply charge. I told them you fix and they just shrugged it off. I decided to do it myself since i have nothing to lose. I read you post several times and memorized each step. It only took me 30 minutes to finish the job. I took my son for a ride and honk along the way. I bought him some subway as award since he was my assistant. These photos are the best help. Thank you again, you saved me 500+ bucks.

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  7. Tiger Daddy,
    I'm glad to know that I saved you some $$! More importantly, I'm happy that you were able to spend some time with your son :-)
    Your feedback is the encouragement that keeps me going and makes the time it took me to make this blog worthwhile! I think 30 minutes to repair a horn is a new record--congratulations!
    -Doc

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  8. Dr fix your a genius the Toyota service can't make money for us.
    Ric

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    Replies
    1. Alaric, that's great news. I'm all about saving money.
      Happy driving!
      -Doc

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  9. Dr Fix, I follow all the instructions n my horn works again wow. Thank a lot.
    Ric

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  10. Great fix. 20 minutes. No battery disconnect. Worked your directions backward. Dropped under panel just enough to get steering column off. Quick squirt with wd-40 got horn working. Mashed some Copper lubricant grease onto bearings and put it: back together. It is a beautiful thing to have a dependable horn again.

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    Replies
    1. Dane,
      your copper lubricant is a fabulous idea! I wish I would have thought of it. Thanks for sharing.
      -Doc

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  11. Awesome fix. Disconnected battery, to avoid problems with airbag. Got the 3 screws out and sprayed wd-40 liberally, had 2 kitchen towels underneath to catch spills. Worked like a charm after that. This picture helped : http://dr-fix-it.blogspot.com/2011/07/weekend-mechanic-repairing-2000-toyota.html

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  12. Thank you for this fix. I was tempted to take it to a mechanic but found this simple fix instead. Three screws to remove the cowling. Pressed conductive grease into the bearings with a small flat head screw driver. I didn't wash it out first with WD-40. So there was no real mess. Took me 20 minutes to complete and most of that time was looking for the little packet of grease in my tool room.
    Happy to be honking again in our 2001 Toyota Sienna. (Now if there was just a simple way to replace the dashlights....)
    Thanks so much.
    Paul

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    Replies
    1. Paul,
      I'm glad the repair worked for you--I think 20 minutes is new record! I replaced the dash lights as well, but didn't document that as well (no photos). I think that was a 2-3 hour job. If you do that repair, replace all those little lamps while you have the dash off.
      Cheers!
      Doc

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    2. I followed this post. Disconnected battery. Removed the 3 screws holding the top and bottom steering column covers, and could access the bearing. Did not spray anything to clean out old grease. Purchased CONDUCTIVE carbon (not dielectric) grease online for $13.20. Smushed it into the bearing, rotating the steering wheel manually several times and repeating to get at all sections of the bearing. Replaced covers, reconnected battery, while driving slowly, made a couple of stop-to-stop turns of the steering column to spread the grease around, and the horn works consistently.
      Thanks Dr. Fix It. Saved me a repair hassle.

      Delete
    3. Alan, that is a GREAT suggestion to use conductive carbon grease. Thanks for sharing!

      Delete
  13. Have a 2000 Toyota Sienna. Couldn't honk the horn at all except with the panic button on the remote.

    Thanks to your help, after disconnecting the battery I was able to remove the 3 screws holding the covers. The covers wouldn't come completely out, but it was enough to clean the bearing (used brake cleaner) and lubricate with WD-40. After this, my horn is working great! Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Chris,
      That's great news! I'm glad I could help.
      -Doc

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  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  16. Thank you, thank you, thank you !!!!! I used Fluid Film (the best stuff on the market for my money) as my spray and 10 seconds later ....."HOOOONK" ! You are a wonderful, charitable person to have spent your time on publishing this and saving many others' time and frustration. Just one note: WD 40 IS a good product but it is primarily a Water Displacement. Personally I do not rely on it as a lasting lubricant on anything. Many disagree with me. And BTW, your van is "showroom detailed" compared to my 535,000 km rolling dump.
    K

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    Replies
    1. Kent,
      Thanks for your kind words AND the suggestion of Fluid Film--I need to find some of that! And you are correct about WD-40, but it's what a lot of folks have around the house for lubricant, but it's so-so for that.
      Cheers!
      -Doc

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  17. These instructions were spot on! Took me just a short while to do everything and the horn works perfectly. Thanks for the great write-up!

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    Replies
    1. Rob,
      Thanks! It was fun putting this together and I'm glad that others are benefiting from it.
      -Doc

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  18. Thanks for the great post. This worked on my 2002 Sienna. I used dielectric spark plug lubricant. My local AutoZone sells it in a single use pouch for a $1. I couldn't get a Q-tip on the bearings but found an old disposable syringe we had from a visit to the veternarian. It had a curved tip which fit just fine. Worked like a charm and my wife has been happily honking ever since. Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Mike,
      The syringe suggestion is great! I have one of those syringes from a previous wisdom tooth procedure--it makes for a precise lubricant placer. You just never know when those "odd items" might come in handy!
      -Doc

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    2. Actually, dielectric grease is an insulator rather than a conductor, but I'm glad it worked for you. If it becomes intermittent again, perhaps try some conductive grease.

      Delete
  19. Great instructions and feedback. We have a 98 Sienna that had the same intermittent horn issue. I removed the pieces of trim to access the steering column and then sprayed silicone spray (had on hand) into the bearings while rotating the wheel. Red stuff, likely the old grease, dripped out of the bottom and the horn started working better. After a while, though, it stopped working as well. I suspected the spray was not creating a lasting electrical connection. I went to the store, bought some dielectric grease, and used an old syringe I had laying around for years to apply grease to the bearings while rotating the wheel. Got it packed full and it's been working great since then. Thanks!

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  20. pfeuct,
    You're welcome! I like your syringe idea. If your horn goes out again, try some of the conductive grease mentioned by Paul Winston.
    Merry Christmas!
    -Doc

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  21. Thanks for this post Dr. Fix It...especially you're Arlo Guthrie presentation of the facts...the image that points out the location of the bearing was most helpful. I did skip the removal of the sub panel as it didn't seem to be in the way of carefully removing the column cover. Thanks again.

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  22. Dr. Fix it, thank you for your posting. Cleaned roller bearings with spray electrical contact cleaner (Radio Shack), then applied copper lubricant (Amazon) with a syringe (curved, tapered plastic end from drug store). In addition, I cleaned the horn switch contacts (used sand paper and contact cleaner) just to be sure. Cleaning the contacts was an easy extra step: remove left radio control component with one screw to reveal left torx screw. Remove both left and right torx screws immediately behind the steering wheel to release the airbag section. Then behind air bag, remove 4 screws holding 2 contact assemblies (bars toggle to allow the horn copper contacts to make a connection). I did disconnect the battery before any repair and I did not damage the power steering seals by manually (grunt) rotating the steering wheels without power. After your repair and cleaning the contacts, one can hear a difference in the quality of the horn sound in addition to correcting the intermittent problem. I am willing to pay for others to do the work but, after a clock spring, electrical relay, changing grounds, consulting a "master mechanic", and numerous dealer visits, the horn was still at best intermittent. There are some repairs that dealers will not do unless they can replace something, i.e., replace an entire rear light wire harness rather than splice in a replacement relay to my towing connection.

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  23. I did this repair without removing the bottom half of the steering wheel cover. I was careful when unsnapping and putting the top half back together. But it was easy and straightforward. It also saved me from having to remove the other trim panels. I used an oil rather than spray lube so I did not have any excess dripping onto the bottom half. If you do not remove the lower half, you may have to take that into account.

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  24. Doc,

    Any chance this fix also revolves a dead cruise control and air bag warning light on a 1998 Sienna? The problems have occurred over a 4 year period. Cruise, then the air bag indicator always on and now the horn is dead. Many thanks. John

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    Replies
    1. John, you asked a good question, and one that I have no answer for. I suspect that the lack of a good ground could be giving you those symptoms. In any case, it wouldn't hurt to add some lubricant to the bearings (conductive copper lube if you have it) and see if it solves the problem. Getting access to the bearings is relatively easy and certainly inexpensive. Once again, disconnect the battery before you pull off the parts so the air bag doesn't discharge by accident.
      Good luck!
      -doc

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  25. I tried lubricating, to no avail. It was the clock spring in the end. Money well spent to get two safety features and cruise control back.

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    Replies
    1. Sorry that you had the expense of the clock spring. Thanks for sharing your insight -- the symptom about the lack of cruise control may prove helpful for others.
      -Doc

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  26. WD-40 and some electrical grease worked like a charm! Saved me several hundred dollars, at least. Thanks for the great info!

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    Replies
    1. Dan,
      thanks for sharing that tip about using electrical grease. More good information!
      -Doc

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  27. I'm about to do lubricate the bearings on my 2000 Sienna, I have an intermittent horn. Question: in order to remove the steering column cover (top, just under steering wheel), can I rotate the steering wheel while the battery is disconnected? My concern is that this may damage the steering wheel components. Or, is it safe to just remove the steering column cover WITHOUT disconnecting the battery? Please advise! and thanks

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    Replies
    1. Dear Unknown,
      You can rotate the steering wheel with the battery disconnected -- the battery has nothing to do with the operation of the steering wheel; however, the battery DOES have something to do with the operation of the airbag inside the steering wheel, which is why I advise disconnecting the battery. Rotating the steering wheel with the battery disconnected *should not* cause any damage to the steering mechanism, but in some cases (beyond my knowledge) it may cause damage (I have no idea how that might occur, but odd things can occur when working on automobiles); caveat emptor.

      Although it is probably safe to remove the steering column cover without disconnecting the battery, I DO NOT recommend working on the steering with the battery connected. Doing so could cause several problems, including (but not limited to) allowing the air bag to discharge, damaging an electrical meter while checking for continuity, etc. In the big scheme of things, removing the negative cable from the battery is relatively simple and is "inexpensive insurance". Just remember that the radio stations will have to be reset and, when reconnecting the battery, the car alarm (if you have one) may activate, so have your alarm remote handy to disarm the alarm.

      I hope this helps and good luck with your repair. Please let me know how it goes!

      Delete
  28. Thanks for the answer. My 2000 Sienna HAD an intermittent horn. From reading your posts above I had a strong hunch the problem was in the lubrication of the steering wheel bearings. I went to the auto store and bought a small tube of Permatex dielectric grease for $4, disconnected the battery like you instructed and just removed the 3 screws to loosen up the part of the steering column covers just below the steering wheel. Gently lifting the cover enabled me to see the bearings. Thanks to the pictures I was able to maneuver the small tube of grease right into the casing where the bearings are. I also turned the steering wheel hard left and lubed the bearings, then to the right. I put a little general purpose wd40 type lube in there too. Put the 3 screws back in, disconnected the battery, worked the steering wheel a bit more and tested the horn. It worked perfectly, amazing!
    I'm so glad for your posts and that my horn is working well now, and that I saved some money. The wonders of the internet to have this information available to us.

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    Replies
    1. Actually, dielectric grease is an insulator rather than a conductor, but I'm glad it worked for you. If it becomes intermittent again, perhaps try some conductive grease. I found it online for $13.20, and smushed it into the bearing as described here, without WD40, and successfully got the horn working again. Alan S

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  29. Near the end I meant to write RE-connected the battery!

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  30. Your fix worked beautifully. Thank you so much for this, you saved me a lot of money. This was for my wife's van and living in Miami you cannot be without a horn. Thanks again and keep up the excellent work!!!!

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  31. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  32. Count me as another extremely grateful fan! My mechanic, who I trust implicitly because he is always honest and accurate, wanted to but a new clock spring(?) for about $400. I'm so glad I winced and sought a different solution and found you! Thank you!

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    1. You're welcome! It seems my fan base is growing daily (or at least each weekend when the repairs are made). Cheers!
      -Doc

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  33. Thanks for the pictures of the steering column and identifying the bearings. I would say that 9 times out of ten if the problem is intermittent it will be the bearings that is causing the problem so the troubleshooting can be skipped and go straight to lubing the bearings. I found that the only things that have to be removed are the 3 screws holding the steering column housing on, then separate the two halves of the housing. The two halves separate easily and come out easy if you take your time and be gentle. The bearings can be seen and lubed. I noticed that rust was developing on the bearings causing the bad ground connection. Did a few small squirts of WD40 to break up the rust then packed bearing with conductive grease (thicker than lube and will last much longer). This is the same grease that you get in packets at the auto parts store to use on automobile light bulb contacts when changing out bad bulbs. Worked great. Hope this helps.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unknown,
      I appreciate your expertise -- thanks for sharing! It seems that many folks have taken you advice and found the "short cut" to make the repair in record time (15 minutes). the suggestion about the conductive grease is a good one.
      -Doc

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  34. Thanks so much for your detailed instructions and photos! My 16 year old son will be taking his driving test in our 2000 Sienna in a few days and needs to have a working horn. We used Fluid Film and it worked like magic! Only disconnected the battery and removed the 3 screws to loosen the top cover of the steering column. From there the bearings were clearly visible. 15 minutes tops!

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    Replies
    1. I could never see the bearings, just the cover like a round ball that contains the bearings. Still can't get mine to works right.

      Delete
    2. Carol,
      That's great news! BTW, how did your son's driving test go? Successful I hope!
      -Doc

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  35. I tried everything posted here, using wd40, then wheel bearing grease, then lithium grease and then back to wheel bearing grease. The only way I can get it to work all the time is by pressing or pulling on the steering wheel and that puts pressure on the bearings and it works. I didn't remove all those covers and kick panels. I just took the 2 screws out from either side of the steering wheel and popped off the top cover only since that is where the grease is going. I also tried to remove my airbag/horn and there is only one screw on mine that unscrews but won't come out and the airbag is just loose and stuck in there. Mine doesn't have 2 screws anywhere. I wanted to pull the airbag out for giggles to see if I had any loose connections or wires under there, but no luck. Is my 99 sienna different from everyone else's? Thanks. Help

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    Replies
    1. John, my replay is quite late, so you may have already found a solution. I don't know the differences between the models, but I would suggest that the conductive greases that others have suggested may work for you.
      Also, get a good multimeter and start looking for the "open" connection between your horn switch and the horn. It may be the relay. I suspect there is a forum online that discusses how the horn is wired. Good luck!
      -Doc

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  36. I used Silver Conductive Grease from MG Chemicals, in syringe form, (via Internet), and the horn on our 2000 Sienna (465K miles) sounds Great!
    Took less than 1/2 hour to achieve.
    Thanks Dr. Fix It!

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    Replies
    1. Cal, Silver grease is a new one on me! That's for sharing your insight.
      456K miles - WOW! that gives me hope for our aging van...maybe I will keep it a few more years ;-)

      Delete
  37. WOW!! After all these years your "FIX" is still working Dr. Fix It! only with a twist this time. This time it's a '2002 Tundra'. Same problem. Same fix. Brake fluid cleaner to wash all the rust out and Film Fluid to coat it. It was driving me crazy. The only way I could make the horn work was to pull back hard on the steering wheel. Thank You for taking the time to document it.
    -Dave

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  38. Question; doesn't the steering wheel lock up when turning back and forth?

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    Replies
    1. If you turn the key to ON, even with battery disconnected, the wheel will move freely

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    2. Larry, Sean is correct: Just turn the key to the "on" position and your steering wheel should turn (although it will be more difficult to turn without the engine running).

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  39. 2003 Tundra owner here and I have to say I'm impressed. I would have never picked that to be the problem. I'm with a lot of others here that were quoted (me $600 from Maui Toyota) hundreds to replace the clock spring. This worked great. I only removed the 3 screws in the steering column and sprayed graphite lubricant in there but it worked like a charm. Thank you so much.

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    Replies
    1. Sean, that's great news! I'm glad I could help.

      Delete
  40. 2002 Sienna here. Actually have opposite problem. My horn sticks after it push the steering wheel to honk at someone. Instead of a quick beep in get a 10 second long honk. This post will at least help me get in there, but if anyone has any ideas, I'm all ears.

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    1. Let me preface my reply with the disclaimer that I am by no means a mechanic by trade, but with my engineering background and recent steering wheel deconstruction, I would suggest possibly a physical resistance of some kind delaying the mechanism from being able to immediately spring back to the original position. This is of course assuming you even still need a response as I see the date posted.

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  41. This worked like magic on my 1999 Avalon. Horn works and airbag light no longer blinks incessantly

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  42. Another satisfied customer here on my 2000 Sienna. Intermittent horn, became a safety issue. Took the horn cap/airbag off and shined the copper contacts but it didn't help. Then followed your instructions and used copper antiseize on the bearing (turned the wheel for 360 coverage) and presto! Works better than before, and for 'free'. These vans are so well made and just won't die, so a shame for a little issue like this to get in the way. Thank you Dr. Fix It.

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  43. Thanks for this post and all of the comments. I just now restored honk to my 2000 Sienna. I took the short path described by others — removed 3 screws, packed in MG Chemicals Carbon Conductive Grease using a small flat screwdriver and turning the wheel to get maximum coverage, put it back together. No pre cleaning with WD40 or contact cleaner. Honked on first try. A few observations:

    1) I started by disconnecting the battery, but I could only switch the key to ON with battery connected. And without the key ON there was no way to turn the wheel to access the L and R screws or to grease the bearing all around. But I think the caution to be VERY careful around a live and loaded air bag is prudent. So while working I tried as much as possible to keep my face from in front of the wheel. This made the job a bit more tedious, but did reduce risk.

    2) Before unscrewing anything, it helps to tilt the steering wheel as low as it will go. This gives more wiggle room when separating the top part of the cowl from the bottom.

    3) The slowest part for me was reassembling the top and bottom cowl to line up and snap back together. Patience and careful observation win out. For instance, on the right side the leather boot on the shifting arm needed to be tucked inside slots (small rectangular plate fits just inside the cowl, not pressed to the outside). Also on the right side there is a spring just above the wiper lever that interferes if everything else is not lined up just right.

    4) If you get conductive grease on anything besides its target you will find it spreads just by looking at it! I got some on the face of the wheel and using a rag to wipe it off caused shiny blackness to smear broadly. Good news though it cleans up completely with just a rag dampened with slightly soapy water.

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  45. I used WD-40. It took rust off right on contact. Thank you for the post. I couldn't figure it out without reading this post. I have replaced many horn related parts to make it work without any success. This was simple and easy.

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  46. Omg, a $2 store brand lubricant flushed chunky rust colored material from the bearings and immediately my horn worked perfectly! Didn't troubleshoot the issue, but the fix worked beautifully (just in time to keep my husband from an improvised solution!) Thank you so much! Btw I was wondering... it seems a lot of these commenting have around 2000 model sienna. We're other vehicles designed with the same horn ground design? If anyone happens to know.

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  47. Worked like a champ, but took off only the 3 screws, it is more then enough to get to the bearing. WD-40 and conductive grease.

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  48. Kudos to Dr. Fix it. This worked like a charm. What a relief and a savings of $500+ from giving away money to dealership. I highly recommend this to anyone (including newbies like me ;)). I went to 3 different auto shops and they all wanted to replace something from horn to clockspring and everything inbetween. What a ripoff they run for unsuspecting people. Plus the minivan is 17 years old so they tried to convince me that EVERYTHING needs replacement. Yeah right, suckers. This is a Toyota and it will run forever, if handled correctly.

    Just to be clear - I am newbie at this, never opened any thing like this before in a car. I have changed oil before, but thats about it. I DID NOT disconnect the battery either (although I highly recommend doing what Dr. fix it says)

    First when I read this blog, it was scary as it required ohm meter and opening door panels and testing stuff that I knew I would fail at 100% and pay twice to get it fixed by a dealer. But, when I read all the comments I felt encouraged (that is why I am writing this long post) that I could give this a shot.

    The fear of deploying the airbag consumed me for a day, so I went to autozone and asked them about it while shopping for the supplies. They, ofcourse, told me the same thing as to disconnecting the battery before opening the panels. But the problem was that, if my car was not running then the steering became locked so it was impossible to disconnect the battery. So, I took the gamble. I prayed for a while before starting the job !!

    This is what I did :-

    1. Bought a can of Fluid Film ($12) and a tube of Permatex Anti-seize lubricant ($5) from autozone. Permatex has graphite and aluminum to conduct electric signal. Do not buy dielectric one, as they have both and the store clerk will NOT know the difference.

    2. Started the minivan, lowered the steering all the way down and removed the 3 screws very slowly and gently as mentioned by Dr. Fix it. I had to move the steering right and left to access the two top screws. Nothing blew up. Once the screws were out I took a flathead screw driver and pried open the two panels around steering wheel very slowly and gently. I could see the ball bearing as shown in the picture. Voila!!!

    3. I put the straw in the Fluid Film can and exactly sprayed into the ball bearings - two squirts. I could see the brownish gunk ooze out. Then I turned the steering all the way left and did the same thing with one squirt and then turned all the way right and one squirt. Nothing fell on my lap or bottom panel.

    4. Again a prayer, and then I pressed the horn...IT WORKED!!

    5. For the safe measure, I then put the Permatex lube in the ball bearings using a flathead screwdriver and q-tips. Turning the steering left and right. To make sure that it keeps working for a long time so my wife would nag me for one less thing!!

    6. Then, I put the panels back into place and screwed in. I took it for a spin and did many turns to make sure that the lube was squarely in the bearing. Thats it, guys and gals. My day was made. Thanks a million for all you commenters and Dr. Fix it.

    I highly recommend doing a video and put it on youtube with a link to this blog. Wish I had that foresight.

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  49. First off, +1,000,000,000 (that's 9 0s!) for the great article!
    Second, I think I may have set a new record: ~10 minutes to fix. 1999 Toyota Sienna, with adjustable steering column, and I was able to skip taking all the extra "side" panels off and was able to just remove the 3 steering column bolts to then remove all the plastic.
    Again, great article! Saved me a boat load of money and time.
    FWIW, started with brakleen (to remove any old grease or rust) then shot some WD-40 in there, which is what got it working.
    Mahalos!!

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