1982 Mitsubishi Sigma SE - Fixing The Horn

By: Glenn Torrens, Photography by: Glenn Torrens

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mitsubishi sigma fixing the horn mitsubishi sigma fixing the horn

After fixing a hootin' horn, Glenn Torrens' shed-find Mitsubishi Sigma is terrorising traffic again

With just two stops for fuel – and a "Stop-Revive-Survive" for a pie at Holbrook Bakery – my shed-find ’82 Sigma drove home from Melbourne to Newcastle almost without incident. If you care, it used 9.3 litres per hundred kays for the first tank and 10-point-something when I upped my cruising speed to a needle-width past 110km/h when I crossed the border into NSW.

The only little worry I had was the temp gauge rising around 5km from home (yes, after a 900km day!) alerting me to a possible coolant leak. Sure enough, a quick look under the bonnet revealed a tiny leak from the brand-new top radiator hose; a skerrick of corrosion on the thermostat housing had compromised its seal.

Mitsubishi -sigma -hornThe way things look behind the centre pad of a steering wheel

I travelled home on a Vic-issued unregistered vehicle permit but of course I was keen to get my car on the road on NSW Historic plates as soon as possible. Similar to what Victorians have enjoyed for several years, this classic car club-based registration scheme introduced in NSW in late 2015 allows 60 days’ general use of the vehicle per year which means I can drive to the shops, or for work, as well as to club runs and events such as NSW’s growing number of Coffee & Cars mornings.

Mitsubishi -sigma -horn -foamPerished foam allowed the horn's metal contacts to close, activating the horn

My only task for NSW rego was to get the horn working properly. Everything else was tip-top before I left Melbourne – I’d even fitted brand new tyres.

My mate Johnny 2-Pack and I soon found the reason for the horn’s erratic operation: the foam within the steering wheel horn pad had perished, allowing the two metal plates in the horn switch to randomly come into contact – just like they would if you put your hand on the steering wheel centre pad. Bb-bB-Bb-BEEEEEEP!

Mitsubishi -sigma -horn -bracketSelf-adhesive foam was applied to fix the problem

The possible fix left Johnny and me perplexed for a few minutes, until I remembered some self-adhesive thin foam that I had stashed somewhere in my garage. Given to me by a Toyota mechanic, the glue-backed foam is intended to be wrapped around towbar wiring harnesses during installation inside Toyota quarter panels to prevent rattles and wear-through.

I’ve never considered another use for the foam – until now!

Mitsubishi -sigma -horn -coverJob done!

I found the foam and got to work, cutting it into strips and applying the strips to the metal interior of the horn pad, sort of replicating the now-perished factory arrangement that kept the horn switch contacts away from each other. Johnny, who’s worked in the crash-repair industry, reckons frail foam issues like those my Sigma had suffered is a common problem with cars of the 1980s.

Mitsubishi -sigma -1Glenn reckons thoroughly cleaning a car is always a good start to ownership

After testing, I re-installed my repaired horn pad to the steering wheel. With a NSW Unregistered Vehicle Inspection (known in NSW as a Blue Slip) issued soon after we fixed the horn, I had my deliciously 80s beige Sigma registered on club plates that afternoon, and cruised it to the pub that evening!

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