The Toyota Tacoma is a tough-as-nails midsize truck that will oblige any adventure.
Despite its durability, alarm problems can arise.
If your Tacoma’s alarm keeps going off, this article is here to help.
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Why Does My Toyota Tacoma Alarm Keep Going Off?
A Toyota Tacoma alarm is usually triggered by a faulty door or hood switch. Other common causes include battery problems, key fob issues, and an incorrectly installed aftermarket alarm system.
1. Faulty Hood Switch
A faulty hood switch is a very common cause of unwanted alarms for a number of Toyota vehicles and the Tacoma is no exception.
The switch is typically embedded in the hood latch.
The small electronic device is designed to detect whether the hood is open or shut and is an important part of the car’s alarm system – if it is broken, loose or dirty it can send false readings to the car’s computer thus triggering the alarm.
- Pop the hood and locate the hood switch.
- Check for any obvious damage, rust or loose connections.
- Give the hood switch a clean too (use contact cleaner), as dirt and grime can cause issues.
- You can test the switch with a continuity tester.
If you are well-versed mechanically, you can buy a new hood switch online and replace it yourself. Otherwise, we’d advise visiting your local mechanic.
“If the truck/alarm has a hood pin switch so that the alarm sounds when the hood is opened the pin switch could have worn down and/or rain water is in the switch.” – TacomaWorld.com
“Sounds like it could still in fact be a bad hood latch assembly sensor. During the hot days, the material has expanded enough to likely still cause full contact with the sensor thus showing your hood is closed. At night with the rapidly cooling temperatures, enough contraction of the material has occurred to open the sensor and thus make the ECU think someone popped your hood open whilst it was still armed.” – r/ToyotaTacoma subreddit
2. Faulty Door Switches
Faulty door switches aka sensors are another common cause of random alarms on the Tacoma. Similar to the hood switch, these switches monitor the open/closed status of the door – if damaged, faulty or dirty they can send false readings to the alarm system’s computer thereby triggering the alarm.
Door switches (or sensors as they are also known) are a common point of failure as they are subject to wear and tear due to the doors being continually opened/closed/slammed etc.
The door latches and door switches can get dirty and rusty too which can cause issues, so the first thing you should do is give all door latches a good clean and spray some WD-40 on the latch and work it in to see if that helps.
Also check the wiring leading from the body into the door for any signs of damage, it should be in a flexible hose on the hinge side of the door.
If you suspect the alarm issues are linked to the door switch, ask your dealer to run a diagnostic test to try and pinpoint the fault.
“Probably a dirty sensor, especially if you live somewhere with road salt, they can get caked up.” – r/ToyotaTacoma subreddit
3. Loose or Bad 12V Battery Connections
Loose or bad 12V battery connections can cause a number of problems, including triggering the alarm of your Tacoma.
A bad connection can be caused by dirt, rust or gunk buildup.
The terminals may have come loose from driving and vibrations etc.
Make sure the engine is off before doing any work on the battery.
- Inspect the battery and look for any signs of damage, dirt build-up, rust, or corrosion.
- Disconnect the battery and loosen the nuts on the clamps using a wrench.
- Remove the negative clamp, marked with a “-” first.
- Clean the terminals with a toothbrush dipped in a mix of baking soda and water, rinse with distilled water and dry with a cloth.
- Reconnect the battery, ensuring tight connections.
“New battery or at least have it tested. Look for corrosion on battery terminals. Check the battery cables for internal corrosion too.” – TacomaWorld.com
4. Drained 12V Battery
A faulty or weakened car battery causes a variety of problems, including accidentally triggering the Tacoma alarm.
The best thing to do is take your Tacoma for a battery health check, these are usually quite inexpensive or sometimes free such as at AutoZone.
Or you can test it yourself with a multimeter (see the guide at the end of this article).
A healthy 12V battery should be about 12.6 to 12.8 volts while a weakened battery reads below 12 volts.
“The problem isn’t your alarm, most likely your battery is low. That’s why it clicks and that’s why your alarm goes off after.” – TacomaWorld.com
“ … I did have the same issue on my 2006 a couple years back. It went away after I replaced my battery.” – Reddit.com/r/ToyotaTacoma
5. Faulty Key Fob
Another reported cause of nuisance alarms on the Tacoma is a faulty key fob – it might be damaged or require re-programming.
If you have 2 remotes, try taking the battery out of one and use the other for a while.
If the alarm problems persist, and you have tried cleaning the inside of the fob(s) and changing the battery, the best thing to do is speak with your dealer.
“Did you change the battery? I had the same problem with mine. I would have to press and hold down the lock/unlock button a few times to get it to work. It turned out that the plastic keypad insert was worn down and wouldn’t make contact with the circuit card. I changed out the keypad and it worked fine.” – CustomTacos.com
6. Key Fob Running on Low Battery
A common cause of mysterious alarms on the Tacoma is a low key fob battery. Similarly, if the fob is dirty or dusty this can also cause alarm issues.
Give the inside of your fob a clean and replace the battery to eliminate this possible cause. It’s worth spending a bit extra for a good brand of battery.
- To open your key fob, stick your prying tool into the slit or gap between the two halves of the outer casing and gently apply upward pressure to pop open the device.
- Remove the battery.
- Give the key fob a good clean to remove any dirt or fluff – a cotton swab and some rubbing alcohol should do the trick.
- Check for damage, rust or loose connection (you may need a new key fob depending on what you find).
- Be sure to insert the new battery facing the right way up.
- Assemble the outer casing of your key fob by clamping them back together.
“Replace the battery in the remote for the alarm.” – TacomaWorld.com
“The key fob kept sending the panic message. Removing the battery did the trick.” – JustAnswer.com
7. Incorrectly Installed Aftermarket Alarm
An incorrectly installed or faulty aftermarket alarm system is a common cause of nuisance alarms.
Aftermarket alarms are typically far more complex than any factory-installed equipment which makes them more prone to issues.
They may also have been installed by incompetent individuals.
If you are experiencing issues with an aftermarket alarm, the best thing to do is speak with a reputable auto electrician.
“… it sounds like you might have a dealer add-on alarm. If it really is an add on, there are so many ways to wire them that I’d personally look at pulling it out first, go back to stock and see how things work. With any luck, they used a harness plug-in and you don’t have to rewire anything, just move some connectors about.” – TacomaWorld.com
“ … Likely all you need to do is locate this aftermarket alarm and disconnect it. Although there is a slight chance that whoever installed it, did so in a way that interrupts the starter signal for theft prevention. This would require a little more care to undo but nothing impossible.” Reddit.com/r/CarAV
8. Sensitive Sensors
Some Tacoma owners have reported that their alarm can be overly sensitive to things such as wind, traffic vibrations or even seeds falling from trees.
“Do you park under a tree in the spot at your house? We have palm trees lining our street and if you park directly under them, they drop seeds that will set off sensitive alarms. It’s annoying as all hell.” – TacomaWorld.com
9. Not Closing Doors or Hood Properly
Something as simple as not properly closing the doors or hood can trigger the alarm.
Make sure to check if you have closed every point of entry of your vehicle to avoid accidentally tripping your Tacoma’s alarm.
You may have a rusted latch or there might be something preventing the door from shutting properly.
“Is a door not closed all the way? I think mine does something similar when I try to lock it and a door is open. It might’ve tried to auto-lock.” – r/ToyotaTacoma subreddit
10. Faulty Body Control Module (BCM)
A faulty body control module can cause a wide range of issues including nuisance alarms.
- The BCM is in charge of electrical communication from different electronic systems.
- This includes the car alarm system, lock-unlock functions, climate control etc.
If you feel that your BCM is the culprit behind random alarm activation, then book an appointment with your local dealership to have it inspected.
11. Damaged Wiring
Damaged electrical wiring can cause a wide range of problems, it can often be tricky to pinpoint too and you may need to have an auto electrician run some diagnostic tests.
There may also be some kind of electrical malfunction due to water damage, so its a good idea to inspect your vehicle for any obvious signs – especially near the BCM.
Due to the soy-based material used for certain cables and wiring, rodents often chew through them. Inspect your Tacoma for any obvious signs of rodents and inspect the wiring, you may need to have your dealer take a closer look.
One owner mentions this on TacomaWorld.com:
“ … maybe evil rodents chewed wires causing this fun problem.”
12. Animals Climbing On The Vehicle
If your alarm has been set off in the middle of the night, it may have been by an animal climbing on the car.
States such as Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Texas, Wisconsin, and Carolina have large wild raccoon populations.
Have a look for footprints on the hood and the roof.
If you have a CCTV system, examine the footage. These animals usually appear during the night.
Check for Recalls or TSBs
By entering your car’s VIN number on Toyota’s recall page or the NTHSA’s Safety Issues & Recalls page you can determine whether or not there is a TSB or recall for your vehicle and if there is you’ll want to get it addressed.
A recall is issued by a vehicle manufacturer for issues that are safety-related, while a TSB covers components that may be malfunctioning but don’t compromise the safety of the vehicle.
Disconnect the Battery
Sometimes mysterious alarm problems can disappear with a simple reboot, there are no guarantees here but it’s worth a try.
Disconnect the battery for 20 seconds and this resets many of the electronics in the vehicle.
Check For Warning Messages
When the alarm occurs can you see any lights or warning messages on the instrument panel?
This can give a clue as to what’s causing the alarm e.g. ‘Hood Ajar’.
Take it to a Toyota Dealership
If needed, take your Toyota to the dealership.
Tell them you are NOT paying for a check on what the problem might be.
Ask them if they will check it for free.
Most dealerships and other places do quick/initial diagnosis for no money as they plan to make money for the repair of your vehicle.
If your unit is still under warranty then they should fix and resolve the issue for free.
How to Test the 12V Battery
How to Test the Battery:
- Before testing, remove the surface charge from the battery, this allows for an accurate reading.
- Simply turn on the headlights for 2 minutes then turn off.
- Set the multimeter dial to the ’20 Volts’ setting.
- Make sure the car is turned OFF.
The multimeter will have a red probe and a black probe.
- The red probe is for making contact with the positive terminal.
- The black probe is for making contact with the negative terminal.
Measure across the battery terminals.
- The meter should display a reading, if the battery is fully charged the voltage should be between 12.2 and 12.6 volts.
- Anything under 12V and the battery should be charged or replaced.