How to disable VESS (Virtual Engine Sound System) on 2020 (US)

Discussion in 'Kia Niro' started by Nelson1994, Sep 21, 2020.

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  1. Nelson1994

    Nelson1994 New Member

    I did a lot of searching and could not find this for 2020 models, so I decided to tear apart my own Niro EV which I got about two hours ago. Here is how to disable VESS on the 2020 US model.

    For the faint at heart: you have to partially remove the front bumper cover and it is a pain in the rear to put back. You will probably scratch the bumper cover around the lights like I did. I followed the guide here:

    1) remove the 4 10mm bolts from the top support above the radiator.

    2) remove the 1 8mm bolt from the wheel well.

    3) remove the numerous tabs (4 in the wheel well, I think about 8 along side the bottom of the front of the car) - use a screw driver for this.

    4) pull up and out around the light to release the cover.

    5) unplug VSS wiring harness (see pic)

    6) put everything back by going back to #1 on this list.

    Attached Files:

    Robert Bratton likes this.
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  3. Eric1

    Eric1 New Member

    Thanks for the details and inspiration. It appears to be a somewhat manageable solution. Where you able to complete the job with the original tabs, or did you have to buy replacements?
  4. Nelson1994

    Nelson1994 New Member

    original tabs just use a flathead to remove and be somewhat careful and they stay together.
  5. Eric1

    Eric1 New Member

    doesn't appear as though you jacked it up, or used ramps, correct? Does this job require more than one person to hold the cover and prevent scuffing the car?
  6. Nelson1994

    Nelson1994 New Member

    correct no ramps or jacking you can get under the car fairly easy w/ stock ride height.

    what I did which resulted in the scratch was I took the entire cover off instead of only one side. It was a pain in the *** to put back on as one person. If you only do one half and pull it off enough to get an arm down to the harness it should be no problem with one person.
    Robert Bratton likes this.
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  8. I did the exact same thing on my Kona EV for about a year (obviously more work required on Niro as that connector is reachable through the motor compartment). The one thing that bothered me about doing this is there are times when the VESS is required (for safety reasons ie: backing up or in high pedestrian areas) so I did this:
    It is a great benefit to have the VESS operate as it is designed and yet being able to disable when requested simply by pushing a conveniently located button.
    Domenick likes this.
  9. Unfortunately my 2020 does not seem to have the "defeat" wire in the harness that comes to the dash, where the "missing button" is located.

  10. Obeymydog

    Obeymydog New Member

    In advance: I know little of this stuff.

    Could the VESS be disabled using the OBDII port?

    Found this:

    And this:
    (It’s for the Soul EV, but Niro just references this page)

    Never used an OBDII app, but if someone could figure out the ECU command, could the VESS on/off be created as a shortcut in the app? Linked into a IOS Shortcut maybe? Then get SIRI to do the heavy lifting (for Apple fans I guess, something similar on Android?)

    Picked up my 2020 on Thursday. Finding lots of excuses to drive places, concerned about my neighbours at night when I back out (I’d have to re-wire my brain to back in first, unfortunately).

    Sent from my iPhone using Inside EVs
    Domenick likes this.
  11. ericy

    ericy Well-Known Member

    My understanding is that the way VESS works is that it monitors vehicle speed by looking at messages on the CAN bus, and adjusts the pitch of the sound accordingly. If there is a way to actually configure the thing via OBDII, I haven't seen it yet.
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  13. I'm just going to disconnect it from the can bus, since it seems that it is a "passive" device as Eric says. Other people have disconnected it with no ill effect.

    My harness does not have the "vess" defeat wire in it either.

  14. Hedge

    Hedge Member

    At wha
    At what point are you disconnecting it
  15. well, as I said in the other threads, I'm going to get the wiring diagram, and see where I can set a switch, probably in the engine compartment by my guess, I want to re-enable it without removing the bumper... the wires from the module come into the engine bay.

    You can pay to go online and download all the service manual
  16. blue_door

    blue_door Member

    Depending on how far you want to take this -- and this idea is way beyond my capabilities -- you could build a module that sits between the VESS and the wiring harness. You plug the harness into this device and the device into the VESS. The device would have bluetooth capabilities and you could connect your smart phone to it via BT. Anyway, this device can do a few different things depending on how creative you wanted to be:

    1. It could act as a physical switch would to turn off the speed and gear selector signals going to the VESS
    2. It could allow the Drive signal to act normally, but ignore the Reverse signal fed into the VESS. In this way, you have the forward sound as it is now, but no backup sound
    3. It could be bypassed, allowing the VESS to operate normally (this would be "dealer mode" to make everything seem normal when going in for service)

    The device would be designed to latch and remember what the previous setting was so that you only would change it when you want it changed and not have to remember to do it each time. Lastly, the device would present the same "heartbeat" signal on the CANBUS so that the upstream control system doesn't suspect anything is wrong and, thus, won't report any ODBII errors.

    Just some ideas for someone that has the tools and knowledge to do this.
    Robert Bratton likes this.
  17. Hedge

    Hedge Member

    You could even add different sounds. There was a company at one time called vroom box, do not know if they are still in business. But they took the rpm readings and had a controller and speakers that you could have the sound of any engine blast out the outside speakers to make your car sound like a Lamborghini, Ferrari, or 100s of other cars. Something similar could be done with the VESS signals.
  18. You need to look into how the sounds were made.... Believe that the generation is inside the module.

    Being able to add sounds to the existing module is probably impossible.

    Making a small CAN bus device that responds to the VESS address and commands would work.
    blue_door likes this.
  19. blue_door

    blue_door Member

    Agreed. This is very likely programmed into the firmware that runs inside the VESS module itself. The mothership only sends the speed and gear selection values to it and the VESS takes it from there and annoys everyone with it's horrible sound. LOL!

    I realize it's much easier to ask for something than to just do that something as it takes time and money. My post was merely trying to stoke some ideas and perhaps give a direction to the project. While I have an IT background, it is not in hardware. I'd spend hundreds of dollars in tools and equipment and many hours of time learning to come up with a solution that someone else already has the tools, equipment, and experience, such as yourself, to do this kind of work.

    For now, I spent about 1 hour carefully taking off my bumper cover and disconnecting the VESS. It's been several days and no CEL or other message has shown up. I plugged in my ODBII reader to look for DTCs and nothing even came up there, but a dealer scan tool would be more thorough. So unless a tech notices the sound missing at the dealership and makes a note of it, they may never know there's a change.

    Quick note on bumper cover removal: you do not have to remove the entire bumper cover. It is bulky and unwieldy for a single person, so just leave one half of it connected to the car. That still leaves you plenty of room to disconnect the VESS.

    That all being said, the sound of near-silence when backing up or going forward is golden.
    Robert Bratton and Derrydave like this.
  20. There's a video on youtube on a gentleman named Eric where he checked out his unit on a Hyundai Kona, our system is similar, but seems to have a slight wiring variation, again there are differences between different cars in different countries.

    Eric has an adduino-powered can bus sniffer if I remember right... might be a starting point.

    Yes, you are confirming what others have found, the car does not complain about the "missing" device, and yes others have mentioned that you get it loose on one side and you can reach in and unplug it.

    Silence is indeed golden.

    blue_door likes this.
  21. It is too bad the battery cooling electronic expansion valve is on the same fuse circuit. That would make it easy to disable. I pulled it out for a while to try it and had no warning lights, but seems problematic if fast charging or running it hard on a warm day.

    Seems it would not be too hard to find the wire to the device and just pull it instead of popping off the bumper...
  22. blue_door

    blue_door Member

    It is probably by design, just as Kia has made it progressively harder to disable this system without disconnecting it. For example, it was discovered that 2020 US Niros don't have the wires in the harness to support the factory VESS disable button. Nor is the control module accessible from behind the glove compartment. I think it is beyond stupid that US spec cars don't have the VESS disable button. It's probably yet another dumb government regulation to make someone feel good about themselves or to justify their existence. Personally, I pulled off 1/2 of the bumper cover and unplugged the VESS module. Fortunately, Kia hasn't gotten around to having a VESS-specific message show up on the dash nor a CEL shown. That's probably going to get fixed in 2021 models. LOL!
    Greg Elmassian likes this.
  23. ITown

    ITown Active Member

    I believe VESS exists for safety reasons, which is why they don't allow you to simply disable it like you can in Europe.

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