Nissan non-Nanny Vehicles

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Nissan may be the last redoubt of (somewhat) non-Nanny State cars. Nissan vehicles do not have DRLs; you can turn the traction control off (really off – not “limited”) and –  alone among all car companies – Nissan does not fit its new cars with “belt minder” buzzers that try to harass you into buckling up the nanosecond the car moves with piercing buzzers. There’s just a little red icon that stays lit on the gauge cluster. You don’t have to disable anything – or do as I do and buckle the damn belt before you sit down – and then sit on top of the buckled belt.

They assume you’re old enough to decide for yourself when to wear a seat belt. And that it’s not always important to “buckle up for safety” – as, for example, when you’re just rolling the car down your own driveway to get the mail. And more, that the decision is none of their business because it’s your car – and ultimately, your life.

I like Nissan’s attitude. It is why we own two Nissan vehicles and are very likely to buy another when the time comes.

We will not be buying a Prius. Not so much because hybrids don’t make much sense that I can see (if you’re interested in saving gas, buy a $15,000 economy sedan that gets 40 MPG and put the$10,000 you just saved toward fuel for the next five years; better yet, buy a used 40 MPG economy car for $10,000 or so and put the $15,000 you just saved over buying a new Prius toward gas for the next 10 years). No, we won’t buy one just because of the shrill claxons (note, plural) that go off like a prison break alarm not only when you fail to immediately “buckle up” but also whenever you put the transmission in reverse. I am not talking about a mild beep, either. I am talking about an auditory assault that can literally drive you to Hulk-smash fury in seconds. The other day (I have a 2012 Prius press car to drive/evaluate this week) I was beginning to back up out of a parking spot at the local Food Dog – on comes the claxon. Just as I am beginning my back-up maneuver, another car opposite me begins to back-up, so we’re both in limbo – who’s gonna go first? Meanwhile, the claxon will not shut up.  Now, here I am – trying to keep track of who is doing what and avoid either backing into someone else or someone else backing into me. But I am having a helluva time keeping focus because of the relentless DING! DING! DING! of the back-up buzzer. Mind, the Prius is a medium-sized sedan, slightly smaller than a current Camry. It is not a hulking RV with massive blind spots  – the sort of oversized or commercial vehicle where it might make sense to have a back-up claxon. I have seen big garbage trucks that have them – and that seems reasonable. But in a medium-sized car? Seriously? And no off button, either? What sick bastard came up with this idea?

And Toyota is far from alone (though it is among the most aggressive when it comes to “safety” technology). The Audi Q7 I test drove recently, for example. It has a “lane departure warning” system that suddenly hits you with both lights and sound if you stray to close to the double yellow or another vehicle. The problem with that is that it’s as startling as it is cautionary. If you’re not expecting it, the flashing yellow lights and dinging could be enough to send you into the ditch. Current VWs have piercing DRLs that cannot be turned off – not without wire snips, anyhow. BMW’s traction and stability control requires a multi-step process to defeat and then still comes on (or stay partially on) regardless… for your safety, of course. Several new cars I have driven that have parking brake pulls where they ought to be – on the center console – also have been set with the tension so low that the parking brake is useless for emergency braking. Oh, and if you lift it up while the car is moving – you know, like when it might be necessary to use it to stop the vehicle in an emergency – a buzzer comes on. Ford cars now come with a MyKey “smart” key that probably sends constant real-time updates to Obama about how fast you’ve been driving, where you’ve been and what books you like to read, too.

Hence, I drive Nissans.

I just hope they can hold the line. It is a miracle that some “concerned mom” hasn’t launched a PR juggernaut to pressure the company into adding Belt-Minder buzzers and all the rest of it to their new cars… for the children, of course.

God help us.









  1. All this nanny state nonsense is enough to drive me up the wall. I currently drive an old nissan pickup, it’s help up marvelously (I swear, the body will rust away before the engine gives out), and I intend my next car to also be a Nissan (370z, I’m looking at you). Does anyone know if I buy the car in say, Mexico, I won’t have all these nanny state ‘features’? Or, is the robocop USA world police standard applied to all cars manufactured under a given model, regardless of the region they’re sold in?

    • Hi Eric,

      Me too!

      As in – I have two older Nissan pick-ups also. Best trucks I’ve ever owned. The ’98 has 140k on it and the original clutch. Still runs/drives perfectly. All I’ve replaced – so far – has been the water pump.

      • Nice – the reliability is indeed unmatched – approaching the 20 yr mark & all major engine components are still STOCK!
        But, I suppose no one knows about the original question, or can provide info on the mandated-for-your-own-good ‘safety features’ on the 2012 Z 🙁

        • I haven’t had a ’13 yet, but the ’12 I had a few months back did not have the seat belt buzzer. Traction control turns off – all the way off – by activating the switch.

          So, minimal nanny crap…. for a new car!

          • Nice. Say, what is bad about ‘traction control’? Is it the car taking control away from you, denying the ability to drive by feel in the situations that it kicks in?

  2. Um, sorry to break it to you but most Nissans I’ve been in DO have the seatbelt minder buzzer blaring at you the moment you start the car/truck. At least it does on a 2011 Nissan Pathfinder (a family member’s) and a 2003 Infinit G35 coupe I owned for 4 years.

    Don’t know if they continue to go off as you keep driving or eventually shut up, as I haven’t formally tested that “feature” (or is it a “bug”), but at least initially they behave just like any other nanny car.

    And it was Nissan that developed possibly the most annoying nanny-car feature of all time, lane departure warning. It introduced it in Japan first as well as became the first in the US to release a model with it (Infiniti FX and M model lines).

    Funny. I don’t remember asking to purchase any of those options on any of my cars, ever, no matter what their make. I wear a seatbelt when driving not because the signal bugs me, or I fear a fine, but because I’d like to improve my chances of survival in a crash. I won’t wear it, though, if I’m moving the car forward in the driveway 5 feet.

    I also don’t point guns at people, loaded or unloaded, unless I intend to use it that way. I wonder if there will be government-mandated warning buzzers on gun barrels that recognize when they are pointed at someone and start buzzing at us to warn us? I bet they’ll cost about $300 per gun, too.

    Oops. Shouldn’t have said anything. Some government health and safety type might read this.

    • That’s weird! I’ve driven every new Nissan model made – including all the 2011 models and several 2012s – and have not encountered that. But we’re agreed on the loathsomeness of the concept, anyhow!

      • I was under the impression that these seat-belt reminder buzzers were mandated by law, like so many other things of questionable value.

        Also found this from the NHTSA, though it appears no longer to be up on their website (I’m looking for more direct confirmation one way or the other):

        “The purpose of a safety belt reminder is to remind vehicle occupants to wear their safety belts. All vehicles are required to have a 4- to 8-second reminder for the driver. This reminder appears as a dashboard warning light (often designed as a person in a safety belt) that also makes a buzzing or bell-like sound.

        Some manufacturers have voluntarily installed innovative systems that go beyond the Federal standard and provide additional warnings when occupants are not using safety belts. These systems have visual and/or audio warnings to remind drivers to buckle up; a system to warn passengers is not yet available. In addition, some of these systems also sense how fast the vehicle is traveling, and increases the frequency of the warning. If you do not see your vehicle listed in the charts in this brochure or the field is blank, talk with the dealer or review the owner’s manual to find out if the vehicle has one of these innovative systems.”

        Regardless, though. I know that my uncle’s 2011 Nissan Frontier has a seatbelt reminder and my 2003 Inifiniti G35 Coupe did. Several friends’ Maximas, Altimas, Pathfinders, etc. of recent vintage do as well. In fact, I can’t think of a single car I’ve been in of a 1980s vintage or later that didn’t have some sort of audible reminder. However, I’m not a car tester and, to be honest, haven’t really paid that much attention. For me, it’s just a fact of life, like I’m guilty until proven innocent in traffic law (speeding tickets, red light cameras, etc.).

        Could be worse. They could be mandated to get 54mpg, thereby making all new cars unattainable due to high cost. Oh. . .wait.

        • It’s entirely possible Nissan disabled the buzzers in the press vehicles. I never considered that, but it’s certainly possible. But – honest – all the ones I’ve had (Nissans, not Infinitis) just have the light. The reason I can say this with such confidence is that I never wear a seatbelt (on principle) and so, always have to do this drill where I buckle the SOB before I sit down then sit down on top of the seatbelt. This defeats the chime. I’ve (so far) never had to do it with Nissans….

          • Got in a 2012 Nissan Rogue today (a friends). “Ding Ding” until seatbelt fastened.

            I wonder if there’s some other explanation I’m missing. It’s neither here nor there, I suppose, but it’s interesting how different our experiences are. I’ll definitely pay more attention in the future.

            I can appreciate the not wearing seatbelts in principle, even though I choose differently. The important thing is that you CAN choose differently and the only person you put at any greater risk is yourself. Which makes me glad they seem to have stopped making those “strangler” automatic shoulder seatbelts that had the belt on the door that slid back once you closed the door and attempted to garrote you.

        • My 2007 Nissan Sentra 2.0s is blissfully silent, but the seatbelt light will be on in red.

          The 2007 Toyota Camary will chime for about 5-8 seconds and then be silent.

  3. See… I like Nissan for those things too. However, Nissan also has the CVT… Not my cup of tea. And neither is the push-button start. I want to turn my own key!
    It’s tearing.

    • Yes, but not in all models! Or even most; IIRC on most models it’s optional. Ditto the push-button start. I hate that, too. Another gratuitously complex piece of technology to replace a simple, effective mechanism. Instead of a $5 key, you now have a $400 “fob” to replace – plus the scheisse in the column itself. No thanks!

      • I can’t drive a manual, yet. So my only other choice on the Altima, at least, would be the CVT.
        Nissan markets themselves as a sporty company. They’re becoming worse over time. The four door sports car doesn’t even have a manual now. A conventional automatic is sportier than a CVT… In my opinion. I like hearing the gears.

        So yes, Nissan is great in some attributes, but things like the CVT and the 400$ push button start are pushing me away all the same.

        • You’ve gotta learn – because you are missing out! Seriously. It is a lot more fun to drive a manual – and often, less expensive too. Typically, if a given car comes standard with a manual it will cost at least $800-$1,000 or so to buy the optional automatic. Also, you will become a better driver and have more control over the car.

          It is much easier to learn to drive a manual-equipped car today, too – because of hydraulic-assist clutches. You can also learn the concept by learning to ride a motorcycle. A really good idea, actually – because you can do it without killing someone’s else’s car (well, clutch). Here’s how: Go to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) web site (see: ) and find out when the MSF new rider courses are held in your area. Unless you live in a really rural area, there will be an MSF class held near you. They’re typically done Saturday-Sunday at a community college and they provide the bikes (small displacement dual sports or standards) as well as the equipment. You pay about $75 and they teach you to ride. And if you can ride, you can drive a stickshift car. The big hurdle is modulating the clutch/engaging first gear and getting the car/bike moving from a stop. Once you learn to do that, the rest is a snap.

          I agree with you on the Maxima. It has become an old man’s car. But the Altima V-6/six-speed manual is a great car; it’s what the Maxima used to be….

          On push-button ignition: A plague that’s spreading. I’d say 60-plus percent of all the new cars I have test driven recently (past year) had them. The problem is that the boobs out there luvs ‘dem dey electronics mang – gnomesayin’? What becomes trendy often become commonplace…. and the rest of us get dragged along.

          • Thanks for the link. I’ll check it out, maybe try out the course if I can find some free time.

            This may sound silly/stupid, but my biggest fear with the manual is the small brake pedal. (Compared to automatic transmission brake pedals)
            I’m afraid one day I’m going to need to do a panic stop, and completly miss the brake pedal when I try to slam on it… and then crash.


            I also live in a mountainous area, and hear that Manuals are tough to drive here.

            I definetly want to learn though.

            • Cars with manuals usually (though not always) have a pull-up, console-mounted emergency brake – but even so, trust me, you’ll be fine. And once you try it, you will like it!

  4. 2011-2012 Mustang allows completing turning off the stability and traction control. Push the brake pedal, hold the TC button for 5 seconds. sadly there is a chime for the seatbelt. Not horribly annoying and it does give up… unlike some 1970s buzzers.


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