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No need to tinker with the ECU, simply unplug the 4WD ECU. It's located in front of the glove box. The other ECU there is the TPMS so if you unplug the wrong one the low tire pressure indicator will come on.

Once the electrical connection is undone you can take off as many mechanical components such as the drive shaft until the noise goes away.
 

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... but I guess there would be a single connector, just remove it and be done? Is it possible that by removing the ECU the differential will completely disengage and no more noise would come? That would be really fantastic.
Yep, it's a signal connector. And it depends on what's causing the noise. What you're eliminating is the drive signal to the electro-coupler mounted on the front of the differential so no power is transmitted but the rear axles are still turning internal differential parts. In any case it's the first step.
 

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Well, I have to report complete success to converting to 2WD using Dr. Dyno's suggestion. Removing the 4WD ECU cable has removed the gear grinding noises.
Thanks again, Dr Dyno :smile. Great suggestion, it saved the day!
More thoughts: Even with the coupler disengaged all the gears in the differential would be turning and likely making noise if they were damaged. So the problem may be confined to the electro-coupler itself. It's mounted on the front of the actual differential and is a separate replaceable part. Like several other member I had mine replaced for free under Toyota's "customer satisfaction" program.

I recommend resetting the error lights and seeing if they come back before trying to decipher their cause. The "low voltage" may simply be because the 4WD voltage is now zero.

And BTW, my screen has a "THANKS" button in the lower right corner. For as helpful as others have been to me sometimes I wish there was also one for "REALLY BIG THANKS."
 
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