CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Random honking

I have a 1998 VW Passat station 1.81 Turbo that has started to do something weird. After driving the car, after the car has been parked for 1-2 hours, the car’s horn starts honking and the lights start flashing- all this for 20 seconds (approx). We don’t have a remote clicker to the car, or after market alarm, so it is not an accidental hit on the button. This started a week ago, and was once a day, now sometimes it is 2 x a day. We purchased this car from our landlord who will buy it back at the end of our stay. We have already replaced clutch and fixed numerous oil leaks.Am stumped as to what could cause this, and I am afraid it might be an expensive repair.

The car has a theft deterrent system of some kind. The lights flashing and horn sounding at the same time is the standard “alarm” mode in many cars. Something or someone’s key fob is send “radio signals” that your car is responding to by setting off the alarm. There might be a disable mode, but you’d have to consult a VW dealer, your owner’s manual, or research online to find out how to disable the alarm.

Agree with Uncle Turbo. You need to have the alarm disabled if possible. You may have a bad relay that’s triggering the alarm on it’s own. If you can disable it, I would not worry about getting it repaired. Have you asked the landlord for the keyfob?

I started having the same problem with my 2000 Blazer after a close lightning strike. The theft-deterrent system on this vehicle is disabled by locking the driver’s door manually either from the inside lock or using a key to unlock/lock the driver’s door from the outside. The procedure should be in the Owner’s manual, if no manual try the dealer or a VW-specific forum.

Ed B.

After searching, it seems that the problem was/is due to a faulty back door lock that does not lock when I manually lock the car on the drivers side. So, either we manually press down the button when locking the car, or we lock from the drivers side. The honking is a sign that something is not functioning correctly, and so you have to find out what exactly IS the problem.