One morning recently when I unplugged and started my vehicle I saw a warning lamp on the dashboard. I had seen this lamp once several years before after charging at a faulty public charging station. I wasn’t too concerned, the car drove fine. I power cycled the car when I got to work and the light went out and stayed out. Problem solved. That is until I tried to plug the car in to charge. It refused to charge even after several attempts.
I have a program called LEAFSpyPro that can read the diagnostics codes from the cars computer. I saw 21 problem codes. Uh-Oh I thought, last time this light came on I got just two. With enough miles left to get me back home and onto the Nissan dealer I decided to drop the car off for repair after work.
When I got to the dealer, I shared the problem and showed the diagnostic codes to the service advisor. He asked me if I had replaced the 12v battery. No, never, was my response. Well hopefully that’s all it would be, he spoke of several LEAFs they had worked on that refused to charge and the root cause was a weak 12v battery. However the call I received the next day was not good, the 12v battery was just fine, the fault was with the built in battery charging assembly, estimated cost to repair $2,581. Unable to charge the car and with 19 miles remaining I had little choice but to get the car fixed.
Extended Warranty, good while it lasts. When I purchased the car new I bought an extended warranty good for 8 years or 100,000 miles. The car had been very reliable and and thankfully I didn’t need to use the warranty much. Six months after the warranty expired, this happened. That’s what you call bad luck. I knew that this was a risk but reasoned with the 100,000 miles of trouble free driving and only a year to take delivery of my Tesla Model 3 it should be an acceptable risk. After all I have done all the recommended maintenance. I’ve driven plenty of other cars without a warranty, and had pretty good luck, if you maintain a car it typically is faithful.
Other components in the LEAF such as the main drive motor and the inverter are also expensive assemblies. Driving a LEAF without a warranty is a financial time bomb, there are multiple expensive components that can fail, and few shops that are trained and certified to repair these EV components. With the high voltages in an EV fixing the car yourself without the expertise could prove fatal.
Good for just 100,000 miles.
It seems clear to me now that one should only drive a LEAF with a warranty. Once it gets to 100,000 miles, the car should be traded.
Fact or Myth? EV’s are cheaper to maintain. Err that would be a myth, despite fewer moving parts, the electrical components such as Battery, Charger, Inverter and Motor are all expensive.
Update 2017-07-13 Nissan agrees to refund $1,000
Nissan Consumer Affairs were able to arrange for a $1,000 refund for this repair given that it occurred close to the battery replacement just 8 months prior. See this post.
How did the repair experience turn out? Was there any option of replacing the 3.3 charger with the 6.6?
It was fixed in 3 days, the part is readily available. I don’t believe a 6.6 kWh on board charger is available for the 2011 LEAF. The OBC is in the rear of the vehicle between the trunk and rear seats. In the 2013 and later models which do have the 6.6 kWh OBC Nissan redesigned the EV powertrain extensively and everything is under the hood. It a totally different shape and design. WIth just 20,000 2011/12 LEAF’s sold in the US I don’t think upgraded components will be designed or sold for those vehicles.
I did notice the part# that replaced the original OBC is different and supersedes the original. In the 2011 LEAF’s 4 different OBC’s were fitted as Nissan enhanced the vehicle during its first year of manufacture. All of those OBC’s are superseded with the same part # now. Hopefully my new OBC is a better unit.
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Thanks for your long-running blog JP. I have been following you for many years. I agree about the warranty. Until EVs become mainstream the price and availability of repair parts is going to be high. Someone told me that you can’t get body panels for Teslas except from Tesla. I have not checked other EVs or PHEVs but I suspect similar stories.
For me, I just can’t imagine going back to an ICE vehicle. My 2013 Volt now has 46K on it and 43K is all electric. My wife has a 2014 Volt. We love the cars. I hope Tesla’s model 3 is a success. Maybe something will finally be mainstream and we can get the cost of ownership down to a reasonable level. Time will tell.
Real glad you got some help from Nissan. I was very surprised given the mileage on the car. Are you perhaps number 2 on the high mileage for a LEAF ?
Thanks for following the blog!!
Like you I can’t imagine going back to a fossil vehicle. I doubt I am number 2 in high mileage LEAF’s there are many who operate a LEAF as a Taxi or commute long distances. The first person to hit 100,000 miles did so a few years ago. I suppose I’m probably in the top 5% or so.
I plan to keep the LEAF after getting my Tesla Model 3 early next year, so will probably post occasionally here after that time. I think I’l start a separate Model 3 blog 🙂
Glad you are enjoying your Volt’s, they do have a great reputation for being stellar cars.