How does a car horn work?

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Have you ever wondered why cars go "Beep! Beep!" or "Honk! Honk!" and not other sounds? "Horn" is actually a really good name because in most cars' horns, air travels through a cone shape that looks a lot like a trumpet, which is a horn instrument!

When a driver pushes on the horn button, an electric signal travels through the steering wheel to the horn. There, the  signal tells a magnet to turn on and off, again and again, very quickly.  The magnet causes a thin piece of metal to bend back and forth and that makes the air move! The excited air vibrates through the trumpet-shaped horn and that's what makes the "Beep!"

It's like the car is playing a musical instrument!

by   (whyzz writer)
  • Exploration

    Deep Beeps! 

    Have you ever noticed that big vehicles like buses and trucks tend to have deeper sounding horns than smaller cars? It's not a rule, but there is a tendency of car makers to give lower sounding horns to bigger vehicles. That way, if you hear a deep beep on the road, you can be pretty sure a big vehicle is trying to get by. 

    If you want to hear a really deep (and loud) beep, listen to a cruise ship! 

    Pay attention next times you hear a car beep (which would be a smart idea to do anyway!). See if you hear the low beeping sounds coming from bigger cars. Also listen for any special beeps. Some cars have horns that can play songs. 

    Disney's cruise ships deep horns actually play the first seven notes from "When You Wish Upon a Star" that can be heard across the towns where they dock. 
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