agedmachine
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2018 8:32 am
Delivery Date: 28 Feb 2018
Leaf Number: 023601

Help! Just bought a 2012 Leaf - range is low - worth a new battery or take it back?

Fri Mar 02, 2018 9:47 am

Hi everyone, please forgive my blurting this out, I have three days including today to decide to keep this car or send it back to the dealership with my tail between my legs.

I'm brand new to electrics and saw this 2012 Leaf SL with only 33,000 miles on it for $10k and jumped at it, thinking it would be perfect as my first car purchase in 14 years. It's in perfect shape, body and interior, etc.

Sadly, I've had it all of two days, and I'm finding the range isn't anywhere what I expected. I work 15.4 miles from my house, there is a steep hill to climb on the way in, and back down on the way back, (Highway 26 from the east side of Portland, OR out to Beaverton) but so far I've had to stop midway and charge this thing up downtown on both the trips I've made...

Here's as accurate a run-down as I can make:

Picked up from dealership - Dash says I've got 28 miles. Drive 6.1 miles to work - dash says I've got 19 miles.
Leave work... stop in downtown Portland to charge, 9.6 miles from work - Dash says I have 9 miles left. Traffic was bad, some stop and go...

Charge it for 1/2 hr, leave the charger with it telling me I have 56 miles... it's two 'bars' from the "1" at the top at this point.

Get home, roughly 5.5ish miles away, car says I have 32 miles left. Park the car. Start it later - 28 miles left. Drive back downtown after stopping at two other charging stations that only had Level 2 chargers. Didn't pay attention to the miles reported on the dash between then and hitting the charger. (L3) - Charge it up a full hour or so... says about 59 miles when it's first turned on.

Drive the 5.5 mile trek back home from there, and it's saying 34 miles when I park it.
This morning, get it turned on - 32 miles. It's dark outside. Headlights on. Defrost for about 5 minutes, turn that off.
Drive my 15.4 miles to work, and I park the car and the dash tells me I have 11 miles left -- less than I had when I left work the prior time and ended up downtown to charge it again - I may not make it downtown this time and will have to find a charging station closer to my work.

This is obviously not workable as a 'drive to work and back and maybe stop at the grocery store or for dinner' scenario that would be the most basic of my expectations.

So I get on the forums and start poking around and realizing a car of this vintage probably needs a $5500 battery to return it to the functionality I'd expect. So, we're now talking a $16000 investment to do that, which is, indeed, far less than the money it would cost for a 2018 Leaf -- but is it worth it? This is a 2012 SL with 33,000 miles.

Will I get the performance I need with the new battery, and would it be worth the expense, or should I take this thing back to the dealership immediately and look for a hybrid or something instead, given what I intend to use a vehicle for?

This decision will need to be made very soon - and I'm hoping to get some good, solid advice before I make the full commitment.

Thanks!

LeftieBiker
Posts: 9379
Joined: Wed May 22, 2013 3:17 am
Delivery Date: 31 May 2013
Location: Upstate New York, US

Re: Help! Just bought a 2012 Leaf - range is low - worth a new battery or take it back?

Fri Mar 02, 2018 11:24 am

There are several real and potential issues here. First, read the number of "capacity bars" which are the very short bars right next to the charge level bars on the dash. I suspect you have 10 or fewer of the 12 possible bars. If so, I suggest you either return the car or replace the battery. Is the latter worth it? If you love the car otherwise, maybe. If not, no. The 2012 is the last year with a very inefficient, power-sucking heating system. You might be much happier with a Leaf built AFTER March of 2013, both because of the better heating system and the better battery used then.

The range estimator on the dash isn't much help, except in a very broad sense. How much range does it show when the battery is fully charged? If you aren't able to get the pack fully charged because of the limitations of the 120 volt charging cable, then you need a 240 volt "Level 2" charging station at home.

Finally, where (city, state) do you live? You climate matters both because of the heater power consumption and because hot climates kill Leaf battery range.
Scarlet Ember 2018 Leaf SL W/ Pro Pilot
2009 Vectrix VX-1 W/18 Leaf modules, & 3 EZIP E-bicycles.
PLEASE don't PM me with Leaf questions. Just post in the topic that seems most appropriate.

agedmachine
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2018 8:32 am
Delivery Date: 28 Feb 2018
Leaf Number: 023601

Re: Help! Just bought a 2012 Leaf - range is low - worth a new battery or take it back?

Fri Mar 02, 2018 12:16 pm

Lefite,

Thanks for the reply -- I can answer with the following information at the moment:

It showed 59 miles last night at an L3/Rapid charger at full charge.

I'm in Portland, OR - not too hot, not too cold.

I will have to check out the battery bars after work, when I'm heading straight for a charging station again to make sure I can get home... thanks, again.

estomax
Posts: 176
Joined: Fri Jan 20, 2017 9:23 pm
Delivery Date: 21 Jan 2017
Leaf Number: 424033
Location: Seattle

Re: Help! Just bought a 2012 Leaf - range is low - worth a new battery or take it back?

Fri Mar 02, 2018 12:40 pm

best thing you can do is borrow an OBD2 to bluetooth adapter and scan the car with the LeafSpy app. that will tell you actual battery health and we can tell you from there how worn the battery is.

10k is what i paid for my 2013 SL with 27k exactly a year ago with 92% battery health, but prices have gone up since then so i suppose what you paid might not be such a terrible deal. If the battery quite is worn though (which it sounds like), it is definitely a terrible deal.

Marko
2013 Leaf SL Premium
27k, 93% SoH 2/17 32k, 96% SoH 6/17
46k, 94% SoH 2/18 52k, 88% SoH 6/18

SageBrush
Posts: 2791
Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2011 2:28 am
Delivery Date: 13 Feb 2017
Location: Colorado

Re: Help! Just bought a 2012 Leaf - range is low - worth a new battery or take it back?

Fri Mar 02, 2018 1:34 pm

Return the car.

I bought my 2013 LEAF for $8300 a year ago (so it would have depreciated in the meantime) and it has a *much* better battery.

I bought my car from N. California from
https://carportal.co/buy/
They will provide you LeafSpy data upon request so that you can pick a car with a healthy battery. My car gets ~ 100 miles a charge when driven gently in good weather, ~ 80 miles a charge if driven faster or wet roads
Last edited by SageBrush on Fri Mar 02, 2018 3:39 pm, edited 3 times in total.
2013 LEAF 'S' Model with QC & rear-view camera
Bought off-lease Jan 2017 from N. California
Car is now enjoying an easy life in Colorado
3/2018: 58 Ahr, 28k miles
-----
2018 Tesla Model 3 LR, Delivered 6/2018

LeftieBiker
Posts: 9379
Joined: Wed May 22, 2013 3:17 am
Delivery Date: 31 May 2013
Location: Upstate New York, US

Re: Help! Just bought a 2012 Leaf - range is low - worth a new battery or take it back?

Fri Mar 02, 2018 1:48 pm

agedmachine wrote:Lefite,

Thanks for the reply -- I can answer with the following information at the moment:

It showed 59 miles last night at an L3/Rapid charger at full charge.

I'm in Portland, OR - not too hot, not too cold.

I will have to check out the battery bars after work, when I'm heading straight for a charging station again to make sure I can get home... thanks, again.


The range estimator bases its estimate on the last few minutes of driving, so if you have to climb a hill before parking the car that could be it, but generally you should be showing a lot more miles on a full charge. You may well have lost 4 capacity bars. That would be good news if the car was still under the 5 year / 60k mile capacity warranty, but that is very unlikely. If you can return the car that's your best course of action.
Scarlet Ember 2018 Leaf SL W/ Pro Pilot
2009 Vectrix VX-1 W/18 Leaf modules, & 3 EZIP E-bicycles.
PLEASE don't PM me with Leaf questions. Just post in the topic that seems most appropriate.

SageBrush
Posts: 2791
Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2011 2:28 am
Delivery Date: 13 Feb 2017
Location: Colorado

Re: Help! Just bought a 2012 Leaf - range is low - worth a new battery or take it back?

Fri Mar 02, 2018 3:38 pm

never mind
2013 LEAF 'S' Model with QC & rear-view camera
Bought off-lease Jan 2017 from N. California
Car is now enjoying an easy life in Colorado
3/2018: 58 Ahr, 28k miles
-----
2018 Tesla Model 3 LR, Delivered 6/2018

Levenkay
Posts: 489
Joined: Mon Sep 26, 2011 10:01 pm
Delivery Date: 11 Aug 2018
Leaf Number: 308382
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Help! Just bought a 2012 Leaf - range is low - worth a new battery or take it back?

Fri Mar 02, 2018 3:41 pm

agedmachine wrote:I'm finding the range isn't anywhere what I expected. I work 15.4 miles from my house, there is a steep hill to climb on the way in, and back down on the way back, (Highway 26 from the east side of Portland, OR out to Beaverton) but so far I've had to stop midway and charge this thing up downtown on both the trips I've made...
It does sound like even a pretty degraded LEAF should make a 35 mile roundtrip..

People are asking you about your car's "capacity bars". Please be sure you know that the right-hand battery gage on the instrument panel shows TWO attributes of the battery as 12-segment bar graphs: The longer, inner radial bars depict how much of your battery's maximum capacity is charged, while the outer curved segments show how much of the battery's original maximum capacity is still available. Here's a link to an article containing an annotated picture of that portion of the display. It kind of sounds as if you're only aware of the "state of charge" portion of the display. It's those outer segments that folks are most interested in.
agedmachine wrote:Here's as accurate a run-down as I can make:
Picked up from dealership - Dash says I've got 28 miles. Drive 6.1 miles to work - dash says I've got 19 miles.
Leave work... stop in downtown Portland to charge, 9.6 miles from work - Dash says I have 9 miles left. Traffic was bad, some stop and go...
This is almost beside the point, but you mention the "stop-and-go" aspect of the drive as if it were adding further stress to your car's driving range. That would be true in an ICE vehicle, where idling the engine and/or running the transmission in a low gear wastes fuel, but an EV's range IMPROVEs in sluggish traffic (unless you're running the heater). To maximize range in an EV, generally, avoid high freeway speeds (>55-60mph) if you can .

You go on to observe that the "remaining range" numeric readings aren't consistent with observed miles driven. As you may have heard, drivers (particularly of the early model LEAFs like the one you've got) snidely refer to that display as the "Guess-O-Meter" (GOM). I've owned three LEAFs: a 2011, a 2012, and now a 2016, and certainly agree with that moniker for the '11 and '12. The range display is much better-behaved in current models. That's no help to you, I know, but you'd do better to just watch your battery bars and driving economy, It sounds as if your car's battery is more degraded than any I've driven, but if I'd suggest you get an idea of how many kWh your battery holds when full. You mentioned doing a fairly large L3 charge; L3 chargers often display how many kWh they've dispensed. Dividing that by the number of charge bars you gained from the session would give you a very crude "kWh per bar" figure, which you can then mentally multiply by whatever "miles per kWh" efficiency you're currently getting (you can set the center dashboard's console to display this) to get a "miles per bar" figure of thumb, and supplement or replace the GOM display. Note that the "miles per kWh" figure can be reset, in the same manner as the trip odometer, by pressing and holding the "switch center screen display" button down for a few seconds while the energy economy screen is showing.

I live in SW Portland, and commuted about 19 miles per day in a LEAF to a job I held in Beaverton up until December 2017. In the summer, the car would usually claim over 4.8, and sometimes as much as 5.2 mi/kWh, while in winter I usually got about 3.8. I figure I averaged a shade better than 4 mi/kWh for the year. I suggest you reset the stats at the beginning of a commute, start off with a full charge, and just do your home-to-work commute, nonstop. It isn't forecast to rain tomorrow, so try the commute route tomorrow with seat and steering-wheel heaters only (their consumption is insignificant, as is the consumption of the headlights you mentioned), and see how things look. You should get at least 3.5mi/kWh; otherwise maybe there's an alignment issue or something There are chargers in Beaverton if you're unsure of being able to make the return trip.

The Sylvan hill isn't all THAT high (something like 350 feet, I think), but if it's an issue, you could consider using the Beaverton-Hillsdale highway (OR hwy 10) instead. It would avoid some of the elevation gain, and I always found it a much less frenetic drive anyway.

Another tip: If you got the car from a dealer, they probably set the tire pressures down to Nissan's recommended 36 psi, which nearly everyone here concedes is too low. I found that running at 41psi was a lot better from a tire-wear standpoint, and also increased the driving economy. Supposedly, you trade away a bit of grip doing that, but honestly, it wasn't that great to begin with anyway.

I'll agree with others that you shouldn't buy this car if you need to replace its battery immediately in order for it to be useful to you. If the car will do your commute as is (possibly with the extra hassle of charging while you're at work, if your employer provides that capabilty; mine did, but I didn't need to use it), that's one thing, but otherwise, help yourself to one of the remaining few subsidized new EV purchases or leases, and have a considerably better experience overall.

On an optimistic note, if the car CAN make the commute now, it'll do a lot better once the weather warms up, and maybe the battery degradation will slow down (like I say, though, I haven't experienced even a one-bar-loss degradation, so check around on the forum here for the collected studies of how things vary with time).


Folk have recommended you use LeafSpy to suss out the car's battery. I'm in your area, and can offer the loan of a functional OBDII dongle. PM me if you're interested.
Last edited by Levenkay on Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

SageBrush
Posts: 2791
Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2011 2:28 am
Delivery Date: 13 Feb 2017
Location: Colorado

Re: Help! Just bought a 2012 Leaf - range is low - worth a new battery or take it back?

Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:59 pm

OP, if I was shopping for a used LEAF I would value your car at about $3,000
2013 LEAF 'S' Model with QC & rear-view camera
Bought off-lease Jan 2017 from N. California
Car is now enjoying an easy life in Colorado
3/2018: 58 Ahr, 28k miles
-----
2018 Tesla Model 3 LR, Delivered 6/2018

Black2014SL
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Feb 25, 2018 5:02 pm
Delivery Date: 01 Feb 2018

Re: Help! Just bought a 2012 Leaf - range is low - worth a new battery or take it back?

Sat Mar 03, 2018 8:03 am

+1 on returning the car.

It seems like there is a good number of used leafs out there. Unless you are being picky about trim and options the car has you should have no problem finding a used Post March 2013 build Leaf for around the same price. Definitely invest the $40 for a bluetooth OBDII and LeafSpy Pro app so you can check the batteries health before buying.

Don't use the Miles left reported on the dash as any serious data. I recommend having the remaining battery % displayed on the dash. I reset the trip meter before each trip and then calculate miles I have driven vs how much % of battery has been used to get an idea of my expected range for that current trip. I commute from University Place, WA, up to Bellevue on I-5 and I-405. It's a 45 mile one way commute and a decent amount of hills. I find I average about 0.7 miles per 1% of my battery on this commute. You can use this method as a way of determining battery health/range when test driving new ones. Not the best, but works when you aren't able to use a tool to monitor battery.

Good luck, and I hope you are returning that car today!
2014 SL 40,128mi. Purchased Feb 1, 2018
AHr=58.91 SOH=90.07% 395.77V Hx=87.52% 37QCs & 1248 L1/L2s, 256GIDs

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