2012 Nissan LEAF battery deathwatch

First of all – I think EVs are great.  They are the future of personal transportation.  But this is the story of a first-gen EV battery with some … issues.

I bought a used 2012 Nissan LEAF with about 38k miles for a great price – in part because it started life as a leased car in Texas, and the early LEAF batteries didn’t much like the heat.  As a result, the battery is not super healthy, with only about 60 miles of range on a full charge on a balmy day.  While this is enough to get me around on most days, there are times when a bit more range would be nice.  Thankfully, Nissan has retroactively warrantied LEAF batteries to retain 70% of their capacity (really, closer to 66%) for the first 5 years or 60,000 miles.

The LEAF dash shows remaining battery capacity (as opposed to current charge) on a 12-bar scale; when new, it showed 12 bars, and Nissan will warranty the battery if it gets to 8 bars or less.  My car currently has 9 bars.  1 to go.

So this was a gamble.  I’d actually like my battery to lose enough capacity before January 2018 to get a warranty replacement.

Thanks to a cool app called LeafSpy, I can monitor battery health,and correlate it to what others have said about when they dropped that 9th bar.  I’ll try to remember to update this periodically, but here are the readings so far, with trend lines and “target” values based on when The Internet said they lost their 9th bar, on average.  The aHr metric seems most relevant. With luck, it looks like I may make it, though I can’t explain the recent plateau after the initial steady decline…

I’ll try to remember to update this occasionally as time goes by.
Update: Here’s a constantly updated version of my stats:

5 thoughts on “2012 Nissan LEAF battery deathwatch

  1. Hi Eric. I hope the battery replacement happens for you. There were some stipulations on the warranty, the original owner/lessee must have done the battery yearly checkup/report at a Nissan dealer. As you probably remember both my wife and myself had 2012 LEAF(s).

    If you get the new battery, your climate in MN will really help with the battery longevity — although the winter is rough with heater drawing down the battery, but perhaps you can pre-heat while still plugged-in.

    • Hey! Fancy meeting you here. ;) When I called 1-800-no-gas-ev or whatever their LEAF support line is, they told me that there were no other strings other than that magical 9th bar drop. On the other hand, I have heard anecdotal stories like yours about warranty service being rejected for various reasons. So I’m conflicted; in particular about that battery software update which seems to reset the counters for up to 3 months, and I don’t know if it’s already been done…
      I’m trying to remember, how did your LEAFs work out? Do you have any official statement of warranty stipulations?

      • Mark Larsen has some good information ( http://www.casteyanqui.com) regarding the P3227 LEAF software update. I would take the car in for the annual battery check and inquire about the update, and have it done ASAP if it has not already been applied.

        Regarding our two LEAF(s) we traded both of them for Chevy Volts. I had one of the very first “Gid” meters built by Garry Giddings to check the battery capacity. After a year of ownership my 2012 was down to 85 percent. Based on that trend and at the time Nissan was still in a state of denial, I was desperate to get out of the car.

        My wife kept hers another year, but when winter was setting in 2014 the cold weather range was too tight for her to make it to work and picking up children. We have been very happy with the Volts. My 2013 Volt still has as much battery range as the day I picked it up. The cars have been outstanding for us.

  2. My battery was replaced around 30K due to the extended warranty for 2012 models. I just lost my 4th bar on my 2nd battery and only have 55K miles. I think they should replace this one too, or give me a really good trade-in on something other than an EV. I won’t buy another one. They’re good little cars for commuting in a city, or on my island, but I can only do a 30 mile round-trip with another 15-20 miles around my neighborhood.

    • That’s a bummer. My new battery has only lost 1 bar and I’m up to about 60k milea now. These are getting to be pretty old cars, though – and very early generation technology. I’m not too surprised that their battery packs turned out to not be top-notch.

      I’m curious, how do you charge – lots of fast charging, or 240V at home, or 120V? There was some speculation that a lot of slow 120V charging was hard on these cars.

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