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Brad, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Toyota
Satisfied Customers: 2366
Experience:  ASE Certified Master Technician
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1998 Camry LE: horn..alarm goes..drivers door..locking mechanism

Customer Question

My 1998 Camry LE alarm (car horn) goes off ~20% of the time whenever I unlock and open the front passenger door. On rare occasions the alarm goes off before I even open the door. Also sometimes when I get in the vehicle after unlocking the drivers door I hear the locking mechanism actuate repeatedly for several seconds even though I'm not depressing the remote. Finally today for the first time (may or may not be related) when I attempted to start the vehicle it wouldn't turn-over but instead emmited a hi-pitch whine as though something was spinning very quickly. After three such attempts it finally tuirned over. Concerned that this may be a symptom of a progressively deteriorating condition. Any ideas?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Toyota
Expert:  Brad replied 5 years ago.
Hello and welcome to!

It sounds like you may have a short in the Theft Deterrent/body control module itself. Unfortunately the theft deterrent system of this car is pretty complicated and requires dealer grade diagnostic equipment and break out boxes to diagnose.

As for the starting issue.. this would not be related at all. It sounds as if you have a flat spot or a burr on the flywheel or the starter gear that kept the starter from engaging fully and therefore free-spinning. What has to be done here is the starter removed and the flywheel inspected. If the flywheel looks good then replacing the starter should take care of the problem.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I'm thinking it won't be cost-effective taking a 14 yr old alarm to the Toyota dealer for diagnosis. Would disabling it definitevely solve the issue? If so how can that be accomplished? I googled this on-line and some mentioned a master alarm switch to the lower-left of the steering column.
Expert:  Brad replied 5 years ago.
Some aftermarket units use a master disarm switch.. the factory unit does not.

The problem is that the factory unit is so interweaved with other car systems that there is no easy way to disable it. It directly controls all of the door locks and door switches and the horn.. there's just no good (and especially inexpensive) way to disable it.

You could try installing a replacement Theft Deterrent module.. maybe a used one.. but that won't fix things if it's malfunctioning due to a wiring problem.

I'm showing a part number of 8973006031 for the module and a list price of about $90. Without special equipment all you can do is visibly inspect the wiring and replace the module and hope for the best.