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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I've had my R90 Zoe for almost 4 years, and I've been really happy with it, but about a year ago it started making a whining noise at low throttle openings. When I took it to my nearest dealer they tried to tell me it was the Zoe voice, and after I pointed out you could turn off the voice, and that you could hear the noise above 20mph they just said "they all do that". There was no possible follow up because they stopped being a Renault dealer about a month later and weren't taking bookings. :rolleyes:
So this year I got the next nearest dealer (40 miles away!) to look at it again. I have to say I've been very happy with the service from them (Fish Brothers in Swindon) - they were straightforward to deal with for the 4 year service etc, and they looked into this and fixed an issue with the boot catch under warranty. However, after attaching a listening device to various parts of the car, their diagnosis is that the noise is due to the motor brushes. Apparently motor brushes are supposed to last the lifetime of the car, and are not serviceable, but will work happily while making this noise, so the only solution would be a replacement motor, and Renault would only do that if it breaks completely. :(
For me, one of the main joys of EV ownership is the silent running at low speeds. I've not been enjoying driving a car that sounds like it's got a dodgy gearbox, and it's clearly not going to get any better. Does anyone have any solutions (that don't involve spending many thousands on replacing the motor)?
One option would be to change cars, but despite it having reasonable residuals (4yo Dynamic NAV, battery owned, 36,000 miles £13k?), the cost to change to something with CCS and similar (or better) range is a lot more than the minor benefit that would bring (mainly due to new EVs going up in price significantly from when I bought this Zoe). And I guess this noise will also hurt the value. :(
 

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2014 Model S
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My facetious answer is to just turn up the stereo then you can't hear it :)

Noisier tyres?

If they all make the noise then it's not going to hurt the value that much. I'm sure my R90 made some noise as well. There was a gear box issue on some so you want to rule that out as the whine source.
 

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Renault Zoe Intens Q210 22kw 2013
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I get this on my ZE22kw Q210 - and then I read your answer from where you took it too and i am thinking - nah! - these Zoe's aint got brushes in their motors (but i am not a Zoe mechanic though) I think they have got Induction type brushless motors fitted to them (imagine cheap washing machines having motors inside with carbon brushes and then the dearer washing machines have Induction brushless type motors fitted) - so I hardly believe they have carbon brushes in them , but I am willing to be proved wrong.

Now, the other thing i have investigated is that the whine noise could be the way the charging system is designed in the Zoe . The windings of the motor being used when charging and re-genning where other EV manufacturers use onboard inverters with their own coils in a separate unit the Zoe uses the coils of the motor instead and this is 'just how they sound' when travelling slowly, however I have not another Q210 Zoe to compare mine with , but yes my Zoe makes exactly that noise when travelling slow and with the pedestrian horn silenced. - I have had my 2013 Q210 Zoe for a year now and thats exactly the first thing / noise I noticed after getting mine and thinking exactly the same thing as you that it should be silent when driving , not a whine like that.

If you get any more advanced with the diagnostics like that they fix it and there definately are brushes in the motor or if it needs oil in the gearboxes or something please report back @Duncan23
 

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LEAF N-TEC 62KW
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I think the brush is for earthing, not for supplying power to the motor.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I get this on my ZE22kw Q210 - and then I read your answer from where you took it too and i am thinking - nah! - these Zoe's aint got brushes in their motors (but i am not a Zoe mechanic though) I think they have got Induction type brushless motors fitted to them (imagine cheap washing machines having motors inside with carbon brushes and then the dearer washing machines have Induction brushless type motors fitted) - so I hardly believe they have carbon brushes in them , but I am willing to be proved wrong.

Now, the other thing i have investigated is that the whine noise could be the way the charging system is designed in the Zoe . The windings of the motor being used when charging and re-genning where other EV manufacturers use onboard inverters with their own coils in a separate unit the Zoe uses the coils of the motor instead and this is 'just how they sound' when travelling slowly, however I have not another Q210 Zoe to compare mine with , but yes my Zoe makes exactly that noise when travelling slow and with the pedestrian horn silenced. - I have had my 2013 Q210 Zoe for a year now and thats exactly the first thing / noise I noticed after getting mine and thinking exactly the same thing as you that it should be silent when driving , not a whine like that.
There are definitely brushes inside the Renault motor design (sounds like they are there because of peculiarities introduced for the chameleon system):
I don't know if there are brushes inside the Continental Q motor.
 

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Co-author of CanZE. Q210 nov 2013
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Most of the above is incorrect.

There are two brushes in the motor, but they do not run on a commutator (the ones you find in a universal motor), but on two slip rings. They power the electromagnets in the rotor. They also wear down a lot slower than universal motor brushes as they do not run over possible bumps between the contacts and do not switch the current.

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If I remember correctly it's a fairly easy serviceable part, located under a lid on the end of motor where the axle does NOT protrude. But that could be on the Q motor only, not sure.
 

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Kia e-Niro 4 MY20, Zoe Z.E.50 GT Line
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My understanding is this design is, in part, related to producing a motor that doesn’t rely on rare earth permanent magnets in the rotor. It may also allow something to do with field weakening, which I don’t understand but is often desirable at higher speeds.
 

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Co-author of CanZE. Q210 nov 2013
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My understanding is this design is, in part, related to producing a motor that doesn’t rely on rare earth permanent magnets in the rotor. It may also allow something to do with field weakening, which I don’t understand but is often desirable at higher speeds.
Yes, that's all correct. In essence it's another way to modulate the motor. Also, the electromagnets are somewhat less less prone to temperature damage compared to rare earth based permanent magnets. I do believe though they are a bit heavier.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
There are two brushes in the motor, but they do not run on a commutator (the ones you find in a universal motor), but on two slip rings. They power the electromagnets in the rotor. They also wear down a lot slower than universal motor brushes as they do not run over possible bumps between the contacts and do not switch the current.
If I remember correctly it's a fairly easy serviceable part, located under a lid on the end of motor where the axle does NOT protrude. But that could be on the Q motor only, not sure.
If it's easily serviceable, are the parts available? How would I find out - talk to the Renault dealer again (or a local HEVRA garage)? I'd be happy to get someone to replace the brushes if it fixes the noise (I'm not doing it myself, and I would hope that using approved parts and garages would keep the warranty intact).
 

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I also have an intermittent whining noise on my R90. It has been with the dealer a couple of times where they state that it is the normal Zoe inverter noise. Speed dependant, no differerence if breaking or turning. Same noise if in neutral as well. After a full stop it sometimes goes away for a while. The car has about 3000km warranty left. 97000km at the moment, the noise came at about 90000km.
 

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Renault Zoe Intens Q210 22kw 2013
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.... Same noise if in neutral as well. After a full stop it sometimes goes away for a while. ..
strange, the whining noise is in neutral on yours and sometimes even full stop?
did they mention that the coils for the motor double up with the inverter for charging (ie chamelion system) ?
 

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My R110 is making a similar sounding noise at low ish speeds but mainly on a low torque demand. With the explanations so far it does make sense that it could be the brushes. It's already booked to go in to the dealer next week for it to be looked at amongst other things.

A quick look in the manual for brushes and the older motor at least (it doesn't cover the new stuff annoyingly.) there is a section for replacing the brushes as it is a fairly simple affair, so the initial comment that they are a non-serviceable part is wrong, with one rather large caveat.........errr.......it says you need to pull the whole power train out to get to them. The cover on the end of the motor then can come off and the brushes are right there.
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Not sure if access is possible without pulling the motor, haven't been out to have a look yet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for posting the picture - that makes it clear how they can be changed (with the motor out - I doubt there's space with it in). Maybe when they said that they weren't serviceable they meant that they didn't tend to do it, rather than it wasn't possible.
Mine is definitely only on low torque draw - the whine switches on and off as you gently apply/lift your right foot (and you only get the noise when you can see + on the consumption meter). If you really plant your foot and draw significant kW, then it's not there either.
 

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Renault Zoe Intens Q210 22kw 2013
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so thats the 'R' models then - any way to see if the continenatl 'Q' models have brushes in the motor?
 
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