Upgrade your horn. Adventures in auto repair.

Something I’ve always done on my cars is upgrade the horn.  Even though I don’t use it much because in Texas, you could be shot for honking at a mexi-thug.  Road Rage is popular in San Antonio. Too many people.  Still, when I need it I want to make sure I am heard properly.  My Prius has those little beepy horns that sounds like a toy so when I saw the air horns at Harbor Freight for $15.00  I said, “Sold!”  135 decibels in your ear, bitch!

Installation would have been easy on a larger vehicle but a Prius has little room to spare in the engine compartment.  I thought I might make a bracket to mount them on a convenient bolt on the AC condenser.  I didn’t notice that the bolt wasn’t a mounting bolt but the one that connects the freon line to the condenser itself.  I stared in horror as the life-sustaining coolant quickly sprayed out leaving a haze in the air of the garage.  Now I had to opened the door and let in the heat in order to let out the possibly toxic air.   Oops.  Sorry environment. Oh well, I’ll be dead in forty years or less so what do I care?

The thought of driving on the surface of the sun that is San Antonio without life support made me freak out.  OMG!  I’m going to die!  Also I might have to experience the dreaded repair shop.  NO!  I’m better than that.  I’m going to fix it myself.

I tightened down the bolt again after cleaning up all the leaked oil but it didn’t look like it seated properly.  There was no way to know for sure so I went and bought a can of R134a refrigerant which now costs $14.99.  It used to be $4.00.  I returned to my garage and connected the can to the system and started charging.  It looked good until it started spraying out the connection.  Oh NO!  Don’t freak out.  You can do it.  Just keep working on it.

Turns out I had damaged the O ring.  Easy fix.  I went to the auto parts store again and bought an O ring and another can of freon.   $14.99 cha ching.   Oh well.  Better than a repair shop bill.

Returned home again.  Replace the O Ring.  Connection looks good!  Oh NO!  The bolt is stripped.  That’s not good.  Could require replacing the aluminum condenser.  Thoughts of cost and uncomfortableness swam throught my head.  Relax… Think..   The bolt, though striped, seemed like it might still be OK.  The connection was conducive to wrapping a hose clamp around it to assist the bolt in doing its job.  That could work!  I clamped it and recharged the system.

No leaks!  I’m saved!  I think it is a good enough fix to last the lifetime of the car as long as I don’t mess with it again.  The AC actually seems to cool better now.  That’s good because Texas would be completely empty if it wasn’t for Air Conditioning.

I was able to mount the horn in a different place without too much trouble.  Too bad I didn’t do that the first time.  It could have been a 30 minute job.

The moral of the story is: Pay attention before you do stuff.

Also:  Nothing is as inexpensive as you think it will be.