'98 Accord horn - WEIRD electrical problem (simple solution? ground?)

I've got a '98 Accord with a really weird problem. The horn is intermittent while driving (it doesn't work when the steering wheel is centered, only when turning). When the engine is shut down, and the
key removed, it works perfectly, no longer intermittent. When removing the key, it's after the very last "click" that the horn starts working correctly. First, I tried replacing the cable reel assembly, which didn't make any difference.
Now I'm trying to troubleshoot the circuit, but my dumb Haynes manual doesn't have anything in the schematics for the horn. Does anyone know what the source is of the signal for the horn? There's one wire coming out of the airbag assembly (where the horn switch is), and it has a ground when the switch is pressed. Which ends up actuating the relay, etc. But where does that ground come from? I think that's where my solution lies. I thought the ground might come from the SRS wires, but nothing changed after disconnecting them. Same with the ignition switch.
I just can't understand why the ignition switch would have anything to do with this problem, since the horn should always be hot!
Any suggestions or ideas would be welcome! :)
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Just a wild guess, but if you have a bad ground for that portion of the wiring harness (or the whole car), the circuits that are on with the key may be 'using it up' and leaving the horn with an inadequate ground.
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It may not have anything to do with your problem, but did you have the recall done, to replace the ignition switch? It caused all sorts of weird problems!

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No, it was never done on this car, but Honda of America said my VIN wasn't affected. :(
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On Jul 10, 12:36 am, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:
<snip>

Well, I think I understand now. It looks like the horn switch gets its ground from the steering wheel, which is grounded via the steering shaft.
It *looks* like the steering shaft itself is supposed to be grounded by the ignition switch, which isn't doing its job. The outside, the steering column, is grounded perfectly, but the steering shaft is intermittently grounded, depending on the position of the ignition switch. I've also noticed that just wiggling the key while it's inserted in the ignition will cause the ground to come and go.
I just wish I could figure out an alternative to replacing the ignition switch! I can't even get it off right now, since I'm on a road trip and have limited tools. (no drill) I tried running a grounding wire to the steering wheel, which works, except for the safety issue of having a wire attached to a steering wheel, getting tangled, etc.
Does anyone know of a way I could ground the *inside* of the steering shaft? The rack end is sealed and lubricated on the inside, right? So the only way/place I could do it would be the exposed end at the wheel, or where the ignition locks the shaft, right?
Thanks for any suggestions!
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The fact that your problem only occurs at certain positions of the wheel suggests that it may not be the switch (though it's still possible). Based on all other horn systems I've seen, there's a wiper that travels with the steering wheel and makes contact with a fixed annular plate on the column. It's supposed to provide a path from the horn button to the relay or chassis. It may be a brass or bronze strip, a spring, or even a carbon brush. You may just hear it as you turn the wheel. If it gets dirty, it may no longer be making contact with the grounding plate. Radio Shack sells a pretty good contact cleaner as a spray pack with a selectable bristle brush or fine tube. Squirt some of that stuff behind the steering wheel, between the wheel and the top of the column (probably hard to get at) while you're turning the wheel from side to side. Use a lot of it -- it evaporates and probably won't hurt anything except perhaps your lungs. Leave your windows open. If you can't find contact cleaner, silicone lube from your local hardware store or auto parts place works reasonably well. Use less; it doesn't evaporate.
Pete (fP)

<snip>
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