Automatic Sound Levelizer – How It Works and How To Fix It

The automatic sound levelizer is one of the coolest, and most misunderstood, bits of kit in your car. When it’s working! They have a proclivity for performing badly and often people assume they are simply not working at all when they are being underutilized.

Luckily for you, this quick blog post is here to help! We are going to briefly cover what an automatic sound levelizer is as well as how it works, why it tends to fail to perform, and what you can do to fix that. And lastly, whether you need to speak to the dealer or simply change your expectations of what this system is designed to do!

What is an Automatic Sound Levelizer?

An automatic sound levelizer is a clever device in your vehicle that raises and lowers the volume of whatever you are listening to (music, audiobook, map, phone, etc.) in accordance with the volume inside and outside the car.

For example, when you are blasting down the freeway with high revs and the wind is whipping your windscreen it can be pretty loud inside the car! Therefore, the automatic sound levelizer will raise the volume of your music, for example.

Conversely, once you have begun to slow down, perhaps you turn off the freeway and are now cruising slowly on an empty country road, your automatic sound levelizer will lower the volume of your music on your behalf.

It’s a pretty neat bit of technology that should, in theory, make the driving experience more pleasant and reduce the need for you to fiddle around with your phone or the center console. It is often marketed as a safety feature just as much as a bonus feature for the driver’s convenience.

How does an Automatic Sound Levelizer work?

The automatic sound levelizer uses a combination of microphones inside and outside of the car (in some cases) to track the volume of sound recorded. When the volume increases, the levelizer will increase the volume of your music in your car accordingly.

When the volume your microphones are picking up decreases, the volume will automatically decrease too. Some vehicles use a combination of microphones and a speedometer. When your speed increases volume increases, when you slow down the volume decreases.

It is a simple concept but in practice it’s a little more complicated. As you will likely know if you have ever questioned whether the damn thing was even working in the first place!

What is the benefit of an Automatic Sound Levelizer?

There are a few benefits of an automatic sound levelizer. For example, it can reduce your need to take your eyes off the road to adjust your music when it is too loud or too quiet. It has been marketed as a safety feature in the past, just like Bluetooth phone connectivity, as it provides a distraction-free driving experience.

Additionally, it’s cool as heck to have your music ramp up in volume when you start to pull away. Whether you agree with the need for it or not, there is no debating that it’s fun as hell to have your car match your energy when you really put your foot down on the gas.

On a slightly less cool, but far more practical, note – having the volume of your phone adjust to the noise in your car can allow you to seamlessly make work or personal calls from the road without much disruption. You can even claw back some value from those treacherous commute times one phone call at a time with an automatic sound levelizer.

Why isn’t my Automatic Sound Levelizer working?

The age-old question. MANY people find that their sound levelizer doesn’t appear to be working and end up having to make the adjustments by hand anyway, defeating the whole purpose of turning the automatic sound levelizer on in the first place.

If you find that your levelizer simply doesn’t seem to adjust at all to your driving patterns, and you have confirmed with complete certainty that the function is actually turned on, then you may need to delve into the dreaded settings menu and make some personal touches.

The biggest piece of advice for an automatic sound levelizer that is working but is not making a big enough difference is to turn the setting up to high. There are usually three settings, low, medium, and high. They refer to an almost baseline of how you want your audio system to adjust. The higher the setting, the more sensitive it will be to changes in outside volume and speed.

Common issues with Automatic Sound Levelizers

The biggest issue with automatic sound levelizer’s on Toyotas is that they seem to be doing nothing at all. Sometimes this is a programming fault and there is an unknown error that will need to be amended by a system update.

Other times, the issue can lie with the measuring device whether that be tracking speed or volume. This is not something you will be able to fix, or even identify, by yourself. If you find that the problem stems from a lack of reactivity despite using the highest settings, there is a chance that your car’s amplifiers have come loose or stopped working entirely.

When to speak to the dealership or a mechanic

Nobody likes the dreaded trip to the dealership to check out a problem with the car that you can’t just fix yourself. Even worse, an issue that you can still drive perfectly well without fixing. But, the automatic sound levelizers can make such a profound difference to your driving experience that if you really don’t find any benefit from them then a chat with a mechanic may be in order. It is rarely a costly fix – if they even charge you anything at all!


Hopefully, you now have a pretty good idea about what an automatic sound levelizer is and what its purpose in your vehicle is. Remember to bear in mind that just because your sound levelizer isn’t working as accurately as you might hope does not mean it isn’t working.

There is a very real limitation with DPS automatic sound levelizer’s that can leave a lot to be desired. With that in mind, if you still find your levelizer is lackluster and your tinkering with the settings hasn’t helped, speak to the dealership and see if they might have an idea about what may be wrong.

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