Silencing the ZE1

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macgeeknz

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 11, 2023
Messages
130
I have a strong distaste for all of the beeps and bops that compliance requirements have forced the Leaf's designers to impose upon us, so I decided to silence my Japanese import 2018 ZE1.

What follows is my documentation of the steps needed to achieve the same goal on the same car by someone else. It is essentially all of the information I wanted to find when I started the project, collated and together in one place to try and help others.

For those who insist on asserting how much they like their own beeps and bops, or how dangerous it is to disable them, I acknowledge that you have your own opinions - but I don't share them.

There are no less than 5 sound generators in the ZE1, as follows:

VSP module (external forwards whine, backing chime and charge start beeps plus internal power-on welcome chimes)
Intelligent Key Warning Buzzer (lock/unlock keyfob confirmation)
Instrument Cluster (fake indicator ticks, door-open warning beeps, internal reversing notification beeps and other system warning beeps)
Driver-assistance radar braking system warning buzzer
Intelligent Electric Braking System warnin buzzer

The first (the VSP) is easily disabled using LeafSpy Pro software. This is the best approach as you can disable all of the sounds it produces without causing any error indicators on the instrument cluster. If you simply disconnect the speaker or the entire VSP module, the instrument cluster will begin showing a 'VSP OFF' error sybpol within 1-2 seconds (indicating that the VSP module sends out a regular 'all is well, no-op' type CAN packet to the cluster).

The seconds noise maker, the Intelligent Key Warning Buzzer, is a module that is very easily accessed from within the engine bay and can be disconnected in about 10 seconds. Disconnecting the module causes no errors to be displayed and internally the module is simply a peizo buzzer with a driver circuit. See photos. Note that American market Leafs apparently have the option of disabling this by holding down the keyfob button for 2 seconds, however in Japanese (right-hand drive) models like mine, the software running in the vehicle's BCM doesn't support that feature (I've tried it on both 2017 model year AZE0 and 2018 model year AZE1).

IKWB_engineBay.jpg

IKWB_on-bracket.jpg

IKWB_Internal.jpg

Next we have the Instrument Cluster which needs to be removed from the vehicle for removal of the internal peizo buzzer. I tried filling it with hot glue first, but it was still quite effective so in the end it had to go. The photos show disassembly of the dash to get to the cluster (basically start closest to the door and start pulling at plastic and it eventually all comes off). There are 3 screws to remove the cluster then 2 multi-pin plugs to disconnect from the back.

Cluster-removal2.jpgCluster-removal.jpg

Once it's on the workbench, a large hot iron can be used to load up new solder against the SMD pads of the peizo buzzer and eventually with some persistence and heat the buzzer will lift one side at a time.

Cluster-wide.jpg

Cluster-PiezeoRemoved.jpg

Higher resolution photos available at mac.geek.nz/mynissanleaf/silencing

Removing the buzzer from the board causes no error messages or DTCs and no other mods are needed.

It is worth noting that I disconnected my cluster without disconnecting the 12V battery first and that might be why, but it tripped a DTC on almost every single module in the Leaf. I just used Leafspy to clear them all afterwards but I wonder if maybe that wouldn't have happened if I'd disconnected the 12V first.

I decided to retain the driver-assist radar warning buzzer and the intelligent electric braking system warning buzzers in place because they seldom sound, if ever, and therefore are not such a nuisance. I mean who could possibly think that having a persistent non-cancellable annoying loud beep noise going all the time while you sit with the vehicle in ACC mode listening to the radio while it fast-charges was a good idea probably spends too much time working in a cubicle and not actually driving I reckon (rant over!).

I hope these steps help others silence their Leafs too :)
 

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Cool rant.

What about the beeping sound if driver side door is opened while car is ON?
Agree with OP and your point is one of my least favorite on the Leaf and note that once the beeping starts it never stops until the door is closed, even if you turn the car off! It happens to me all the time. I open the door, it starts beeping, I power the Leaf off and the beeping continues until the door is closed, again even if the Leaf is now off, damn Leaf and it's nanny sounds!
Note our new Toyota Prime isn't any different, it's always beeping and buzzing and making all kinds of obnoxious sounds. My least favorite is its AWFUL grinding or scraping sound whenever the car is in gear(pedestrian warning sound) even if not moving! Not as detectable inside the car with the windows up but if outside anywhere near the car's front it's downright awful and hard to have a conversation, it's that bad and LOUD! The Leaf OTH never bothered that much with its somewhat peaceful chime, SO much better than the damn Toyota grinding noise. And if you put the Toyota in reverse it's probably TWICE as loud and no chance of hearing anything if near the front of the car, again even if not moving, just standing still with foot on the brake but the car in reverse. Makes the Leaf sound downright pleasant. The first time I get the Toyota up on a ramp I'm going to look for and either try and quiet the very obnoxious sound or disconnect it all altogether. This is something I never did on the Leaf as it didn't bother me enough plus I figured if it helped a blind person, it wasn't really bothering me that much, not the Toyota, it's VERY OBNOXIOUS and makes me want to poke out the speaker every time I'm outside the vehicle and it's in gear, particularly reverse.

Oh and don't get me started on the seat belt reminder on the Toyota, it's the worst vehicle ever in this case! I sometimes drive off the public roads in rather large private parking lots with little to no people and get in and out somewhat regularly so I don't buckle up. The Toyota is relentless in its again VERY OBNOXIOUS seat belt LOUD and constant chiming. It gives you about 30 seconds after starting and moving but no time if you start it but don't move for 30 seconds or more, then it starts as soon as you move. It runs for 2 minutes and then stops for 30 seconds only to start back up again. I've waited out the first 2 minutes but never the second round as I'm generally out of the vehicle by then. I mean I can see a simple beep or buzzer for a couple of seconds to remind people to buckle up but no reason to carry it to such extremes, the Leaf is much better in this respect. With the Toyota, I've even occasionally buckled the seatbelt up before getting in the car and then have it sit behind my back but I don't really like that option as if I do then need to go out on the road, I have to unbuckle it behind me and refeed it in front of me. I think what I'm going to do for the Toyota is purchase/find a junk seatbelt and just use the buckle to plug into the female part when I'll be getting in and out of the car very much and if I then drive out on the road, it would be simple to unplug the dummy buckle and pull the seatbelt over me and plug it in. Kind of a hassle but beats hearing the damn obnoxious chime all the time, nanny sounds!

How's that for a rant Astral :p🤣
 
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Sounds like this is the last Toyota you will be owning :D
Actually other than the sounds, we really like the Rav4 Prime as we did our '07 Prius before it, which also had lots of annoying sounds but I figured out how to disable most :p
We had much better luck reliability-wise with our Toyotas than either of the Leafs we've sold, in fact, while we wouldn't hesitate to get another Toyota, our Leafs will probably be our first and last Nissans, not really for the nanny noises but more "issues" with the Nissans. They were our gateway drug to EVs though and for that I commend Nissan.
 
Cool rant.

What about the beeping sound if driver side door is opened while car is ON?
Hi Astral! Yep, the driver side door warning beeps are produced by the instrument cluster (sometimes called the "Combination Meter"). It has an internal piezo buzzer that produces a range of beep, boops, clicks and other annoying noises depending on events within the car. The image below shows you which part to remove and see my links above for photos showing how to get the cluster out of the dashboard (very easy, 3 minute job once you know how).

My Leaf is 100% silent now (except for the brake warnings which almost never trip), and it is a true blessing. It is a completely different experience without all the noises and I far, far prefer it. My wife finds it disconcerting not having the turn signal ticks any more so though, so I am building an ESP32 based box which listens to the vehicle CAN bus and makes the same noises when it sees packets from the cluster to the BCM reporting turn-stick operation.

Cluster-wide.jpg
 
For anyone who is interested - I ended up making a turn signal noise maker to replace the factory one that I had removed. My wife found the ZE1 too errie with absolutely zero sound, so I said I would reinstate the turn signal noises for her.

I created simple mash-up of a generic ESP32 dev module and a MCP2515 can board along with a 12V-5V DC-DC converter powered from the Leaf's 'ON' power bus. I took the power and CAN connections from the back of the instrument cluster ("combination meter") because it's so easy to access. I then put the components into a project box and mounted it in an available position up inside the dash.

IMG_20231226_183537_494.jpg

Upon reception of the CAN frames that signify that the turn signal stick is in the up or down position it then generates clicks by switching the low side of a speaker to GND using an NPN transistor (if anyone is interested I can post a circuit diagram, just ask). This cause a click to come out of the speaker. It works very well with the only exception being that no noises are generated when the hazard lights are on (ie both turn signals flashing). I do believe there is a different CAN frame from the BCM to the meter ECU that would trigger in both instances, I just haven't investigated it further yet to work out it's ID.

Silencing my Leaf is the best mod I've done to it so far and I would never go back. I don't mind the turn signals (which I can now optionally disable if I prefer), but that damned driver door beep used to drive me spare!

For anyone who has done the same and would like to build this turn signal reinstator, I have posted the source code for the ESP here:

http://mac.geek.nz/mynissanleaf/silencing/LeafTurnNoiseMaker.ino
 
Cool mod. And thanks for sharing it.

I have a 2015 SL (USA) so pretty sure this won't work for mine. Darn.

And on a different note... for some reason the link to higher res pics doesn't work for me? https://mac.geek.nz/mynissanleaf/silencing
Which mod is it that you don't think will work? Unplugging the intelligent key warning buzzer should work fine on US model as well (I would have thought).

Sorry about the link - it should have been http, not https. Fixed now.
 
Hi , just done this mod and I love it, however I still have an annoying voice every time I start my leaf and about 5 minutes into my journey , it sounds like this ( asika dounga anakis sing) , I have disconnected the electronic toll system under the steering wheel but it is still there , does anyone have any ideas. I have a 2018 leaf import.

Thanks
 
Ooo! Intesesting. Do you know what that translates to? I wonder if it is NAV related. Can you determine the source of the audio? Is it from the sound/NAV system speakers or is it from something else? You could try disconnecting the VSP module plug to see if it's coming from the VSP (it will throw a light on the meter but only while it's unplugged; it won't trip a DTC). You can access the VSP from behind the glove box, which itself comes out with 8 torx screws (pull the lower panel from under it downwards to remove first).

I absolutely love my Leaf now that it is silenced. I jump in other Leafs every now and then and they're all bing bong ding dingy it makes me laugh now. Gosh I'm so glad I don't have that horrible noisefloor any more :)
 
Hey I finally found out its coming from the after market dash cam , I thought it was part of the standard kit for the front camera setup , now I need to either rip it out or figure out how to use it,

I drove down my street the other day with all windows down, everything off, going about 30 km\h at about 2:00 in the morning,
it was freaky almost dead silent . :cool:

How did you desolder the buzzer , I just heated up an old screwdriver the same size as the tabs to red hot , then while holding the buzzer with pliers I worked on both of the tabs close to the edge (of the circuit board) until they popped out , then just fatigued the others off by wiggling it back and forth, hope this helps anyone else?
 
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Hey I finally found out its coming from the after market dash cam , I thought it was part of the standard kit for the front camera setup , now I need to either rip it out or figure out how to use it,

I drove down my street the other day with all windows down, everything off, going about 30 km\h at about 2:00 in the morning,
it was freaky almost dead silent . :cool:

How did you desolder the buzzer , I just heated up an old screwdriver the same size as the tabs to red hot , then while holding the buzzer with pliers I worked on both of the tabs close to the edge (of the circuit board) until they popped out , then just fatigued the others off by wiggling it back and forth, hope this helps anyone else?
I honestly reckon you could just rip it off with a set of bull nose pliers and it would still be OK :) But I used a soldering iron.

Nice one tracking down the dash cam. That made me laugh :)
 
Would you mind explainng the photo of the sounder module internals - as in, how did you open it?

I just had a quick look at mine and it has a plastic welded sort of look about it, i did spend about 10 sec total looking before i wrapped a couple of layers of duct tape around it which has taken the volume way down, but i might be interested in a more elegant electronic solution if the thing can be opened and reassembled...
 
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