A thread for people happy with their Leaf

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Joined
Nov 9, 2023
Messages
916
Location
Lyman, Iowa
There seam to be no end of people who have a problem with their Leaf. Not surprising, as this is a forum to help those with a problem, but I would love to hear from those that the car is doing well and fitting their needs.
I had been interested in the Leaf and EV's in general since before they became mfg. Back in the '80s I donated some parts to a local collage group that was electrifying a Dodge van with help from the DOE. I recently saw that same van on Ebay, some 40 years on!
Not being one who buys new vehicles (I bought 1 in my life so far and ran it over 200K) I knew a new Leaf was not in my cards. In 2013 or so there was an EV day, near by and I went and rode in a few different cars and sat in just about all. I found the Leaf fit my large frame well and had good visibility. I went to the dealer and test drove a few (new and used) but they were out of my price range.
I was well aware of the shortcomings of the early electrics esp their range. I logged my trips and found that 98% or better were under 25 miles, more or less the perfect match for the early Leaf.
I have had several cars, and our "daily driver" is showing its age, it is currently 24 years old. Time had come to think about a replacement or retiring this for another daily driver.
I read though Lefty's "Before you buy a used Leaf" and learned that the newer "post 2013" had some improvements worth paying extra for. 2014's and 2015's were at the upper end of what I was willing to gamble on a car that has a limited market.
I found a very lightly used '15 with "horror of horrors" only 9 bars and upper 60's to low 70's on the GOM.
Test drove the car (private sale) and agreed on a price.
NO LEAFSPY, check, but I have been very happy ever since. I still haven't put a Leafspy on and unless there is a problem with the car, I see no reason to obsess over what it can and cannot tell me. Unless and until the car can no longer preform its function, I don't need to know what it says.
May be it is because I went in with realistic expectations on what the car can and can not do, but it has never let me down, even in -15F weather.
Yeah, I would love it if it could do the longer trips, all 2% of them, but I knew going in it would not.
I costs around $1.40 for our daily trips to town, down from over $3.00 for our econbox gasoline, and I can "fill it" at home!
Someday I may be faced with the choice of buying a replacement traction battery or moving on from the car, but today that day seams a long way off and I thought about and researched it before I bought. I know it will cost close to double what I paid for the car if I choose to replace with a 40Kwh pack. I could re-up with a "rebuilt" 24Kwh pack for about what I paid for the car. These were known's when I went looking to buy.
As I was buying an 8 year old car, I had no expectations that Nissan would cover anything, so no disappointment there.
Even before I bought, I wired in a 50 amp feed to my detached garage as I knew someday I would have some electric vehicle.
My used Leaf came with two EVSE's, the OEM 120 volt unit and an adjustable aftermarket unit. I have settled in to a 16 amp charge current for right around 2 hrs in the middle of the night. This keeps it near full every morning. As the weather moderates I may have to cut it back some more. My monthly electric has gone up around $35-40 a month, and my gasoline bill has all but disappeared. It has been months since I filled anything.
So lets hear others success stories!
 
My story is somewhat similar. My wife and I thought about EVs for quite a while, but only needed one car at the time and our econo-hatchback (2007 Toyota Yaris) was good enough and that's what we rolled with from fall 2014 through fall 2020.

During Covid we moved to Massachusetts for my wife's new job (which was via Zoom from our tiny apartment for the next year). About six months after we moved we sold the Yaris and upgraded to a 2010 Honda Fit Sport. Reasons: four door convenience, a bit more room, much quieter (because I removed the interior and installed sound deadening materials during Covid free time), and an unbeatable price because I spent several weeks helping my brother strip lead paint in his house and he gave me the Fit, which they were thinking of selling, as payment.

In mid-2021 my wife's job required her to be in person again. Around the same time we purchased our first home 16-17 miles from her work. Now we had a justification for owning two cars. She found out that there was free charging at her work and suddenly an EV was an ideal second vehicle for us. I found a 2014 Leaf SV about 70 miles from us (I wanted to test drive and not have to ship) and went through lengthy negotiations with the private seller who valued it much higher than either I or KBB.com did. He would tell me that he could take it to the dealership and sell it for $4000-$5000 more than he was asking and I would say "You should definitely do that instead of wasting your time talking to me!" After about six weeks of no other interest in the car he came down to my original asking price and we had our Leaf.

So far in over 2.5 years of ownership my one disappointment is only tangentially related to the Leaf. One of the reasons I got a good deal (along with a filthy interior and criminally abused paint) was a small rust spot on the driver's rear fender lip. My wife didn't care but I wanted to fix it, and I had priced the repair cost into the offer I made the seller. So, after many hours of my time cleaning the interior and compounding/polishing the exterior, followed by $1250 paid to the local body shop for them to (allegedly) cut out the rust, fabricate a new fender lip, and repaint, we had a pretty sharp Leaf. The disappointment came when the rust bubble reappeared within 15 months, despite my liberal use of an undercarriage rust inhibitor product (PB Surface Protect) along with washing the car and undercarriage at every available opportunity throughout our incredibly salty winters.

Other than that, I have no complaints. The majority of our charging is free and my wife loves the car. We use the Leaf for her commute and other local driving and the Honda Fit is reserved for longer trips. It's a good combination that works well for us and should continue to do so for quite a while.
 
I bought a 2012 Leaf for around $32,000, minus 7,500 later that was about $24,500. By 2016, the battery was dying. I bought a 2016 30kwh Leaf new for $25000, minus another 7500, so around $17,500. (they were selling for what seemed like cheap in Sept of 2016)

I sold the 2012 for 6000 December 2016. (mistake, but no one wanted it, should have forced it on some family member as a gift).

If you do the maths, since 2012, I have dumped about $36000 into Leafs. But in January 2022 my 2016 30kwh battery died under warranty and got replaced/upgraded to a 40kwh for free.

I now have a 2016 with a 40kwh battery that gets me great range and after 2 years is still at 92% SOH, so seems to be aging appropriately.

You will not find many people who bought TWO new Nissan Leaf cars in the last 12 years. I am one. For much of my younger years, I considered a $2,000 depreciation per year on a vehicle to be acceptable. Many luxury vehicles depreciate faster. Some very budget cars will depreciate less since they have such a low starting point.

My 2016 Leaf is at a book value of only $5000 or so, but its worth more than that to me as a reliable vehicle that has an upgraded battery. 12 years, $24,000 in expected depreciation, I could suggest that I have a $12,000 Leaf. Not quite honestly, but I am not totally under water either.

In the end, early adopters who paid top dollar for a 2012 Leaf only to have the battery die out of warranty, have ample reason to hate their experience. In my case, when I take the 2012 (sad) and the 2016 (home run), its a wash for me.

I like my Leaf and nearly 4 miles per kwh if I am nice. It lacks some modern safety features like adaptive cruise, lane assist and emergency braking. Other than that, I find it perfect for my local commuting needs. I am kind of stuck with it -- resale value is below its real value (given the 40 kwh battery, no accidents, 100% garaged in my case). If someone hits me and totals it, I'll be very very sad, as the other guys insurance will surely screw me. On the bright side, if I were to get totaled, assuming the battery pack was spared, SOMEONE would get a salvage steal of the year! Lets hope no accidents.....
 
I would disagree about those so-called "safety features". The last 25 years of my working life I was an OTR trucker, I had no cruise, I had to pay attention to driving, it was my job. All those new things allow "drivers" to pay less and less attention to the job at hand. We quickly go from a "safety back up system" to a relied on to do the job system, something they were never designed to be. I had someone drive into the back of my semi trailer at 70 MPH (I was doing much less) they didn't even react until the last minute, and not in enough time to avoid hitting the back of the trailer.
I am one who wouldn't be upset to see all of these functions removed from vehicles.
We don't need automation, we need responsible drivers.
 
I found a very lightly used '15 with "horror of horrors" only 9 bars and upper 60's to low 70's on the GOM.

You are spot on emphasizing the need to have a clear expectation of what you want from the car, and how your geography, weather, and driver habits will affect range. I only add that self-awareness of range anxiety is also key. My wife refused to drive our 2013 LEAF if she thought the SoC would drop below 25% by the time she returned home. I relied on Leafspy, and could arrive home with under a kWh remaining without sweating toooo much.

I'm glad you are having a good experience, but I caution others away from using your approach of not having LeafSpy during shopping. The tl;dr version is you got lucky, and you help yourself by probably being stingy with heating in the winter and driving like a proverbial grandma.

Why do I say lucky ?
After the first bar (and ~ 16% lost), each additional bar is ~ 6.5% of new capacity. Without Leafspy you do not know how close you are to losing the highest capacity bar showing. But much more importantly, you have no idea if the pack has a weak cell. The capacity bars hide that information, as does the GOM.

The GOM is an idiot gauge, heavily influenced by recent energy consumption rate. It is foolish to rely on a GOM reading as a surrogate for remaining capacity unless you were the one doing the recent driving of say ... 20+ miles

---
Here is the fate you escaped from, but a quick peek through this forum shows is all too common:
The pack is a tick away from losing the 9th capacity bar so the SOH is 100 - (16+3*6.5) = 65%
There is a weak cell, cutting off the bottom 25% of capacity. Now the usable capacity is 40%
A new pack from that era is ~ 21.5 kWh usable, so your car might of had 8.6 kWh usable
You bought during nice weather and the GOM was 'massaged' to show pretty good range
Now it is winter, and you easily use 400 Wh/mile between defrosting, some cabin heating, and high friction roads

Winter range ? About 8.6/.4 = 21.5 miles
Thread titles with some slight variation of 'GOM says 60 miles but I only get 20! WTF ??' are a dime a dozen

I have yet to read of a single person who came to this forum looking for buying advice who was able to analyze in the above manner before they bought a LEAF. That includes you, and it includes me. In fact, in the past when I have written all this out for others it has been ignored because the underlying concepts and terms are not in their toolkit.
 
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You will not find many people who bought TWO new Nissan Leaf cars in the last 12 years. I am one. For much of my younger years, I considered a $2,000 depreciation per year on a vehicle to be acceptable. Many luxury vehicles depreciate faster. Some very budget cars will depreciate less since they have such a low starting point.

My 2016 Leaf is at a book value of only $5000 or so, but its worth more than that to me as a reliable vehicle that has an upgraded battery. 12 years, $24,000 in expected depreciation, I could suggest that I have a $12,000 Leaf. Not quite honestly, but I am not totally under water either.

I do car money arithmetic in much the same way as you. I'd figure 6 years left in the current car, so 36k for 18 years. And of course cheap fuel as a bonus, and cheaper insurance since there is little reason to buy comp/collision

Nice
 
Why do I say lucky ?
After the first bar (and ~ 16% lost), each additional bar is ~ 6.5% of new capacity. Without Leafspy you do not know how close you are to losing the highest capacity bar showing. But much more importantly, you have no idea if the pack has a weak cell. The capacity bars hide that information, as does the GOM.
What you missed, is I took the car on a long enough test drive in the cool weather, to be sure it would do what I wanted.
I agree. Leafspy can be a good tool, but there are other ways to assess the condition. Actually driving in the manor you want to use it, is a good test.
There is always some "luck" involved when buying an older vehicle, stuff breaks, things change, and leafspy can show the battery fine today and the the battery can have a problem in a week.
The dash gauges are inaccurate, but they also get their info from the same modules that Leafspy does. Only how the output is presented is different.
All these months on, I still don't know how close the cells balance, but I do know it will do what I bought it to do. I have no idea what the Hx values are, but the car does fine. You can call it luck, or I call it doing my research and taking on a good long test ride to see how the SOC drops, what it does when you pull a hill or a expressway on ramp.
What is more important, Leafspy numbers or how it performs in actual conditions?
We have plenty here that see "good" leafspy battery reports until they are in the cold and pulling hard, then one or more cells drop quicker than the rest, and they have a problem.
I am one who looks at any data scanned through the OBD port as a diagnostic tool, and less as something that can predict future problems.
Afterall, if a car does not have a problem doing what you purchased it for, does it really have a problem ?
I purchased for a private party, someone who owned the vehicle for some time, and I could query them about it, assess their truthfullness to some extent. May be that helps, I feel it does, over going to a dealer. When I inquired about the car and told him where I was coming from, his first question/statement was "Your not going to try and drive it home are you?" (I lived 250 miles or so from the seller). He wanted to be sure I knew of the limited range and was OK with that.
I knew and expected battery degradation, and researched the options currently available if there was something that cropped up soon after purchase. I was aware of what the cost would be.
I'm not saying there isn't a little luck involved, there always is, Leafspy or not, but you do the best you can and make the best decision you can and accept there is NO way to be 100% sure of anything, if there were, there would be no reason for mfg to have warranties, they would know 100% the car will last.
 
I very much agree with you that a test drive in winter conditions that mimics daily usage is a fine test. So we recommend that people who live in 4 season climates only buy a LEAF in mid January through early February ?

We have plenty here that see "good" leafspy battery reports until they are in the cold and pulling hard, then one or more cells drop quicker than the rest, and they have a problem.

Those are the people who rely on the SOH value and do not look at the cell voltage histogram at 20 - 30% SoC. You do not use LeafSpy, so you do not know how to use its information to greatest advantage.
 
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Those are the people who rely on the SOH value and do not look at the cell voltage historgram at 20 - 30% SoC. You do not use LeafSpy, so you do not know how to use its information to greatest advantage.
I can read and understand a Leafspy graph, I am sure there are some small trends that become more clear the more you use it on one car to see trends over time.
With all the people who have problems and report their Leafspy findings, it would tend to indicate that it is not great at predicting future problems for them either.
Predicting the future is very hard anyway you try and do it. Leafspy is a diagnostic tool primarily, as are all scan tools. They aren't real good at predicting what will happen. A human is better at predicting if they can see trends over time. A snapshot in time, even with some history is just that, a snapshot.
Not saying Leafspy is useless, far from it, but it will not and has not prevented people from buying cars and then being disappointed when what they thought turns out not to be.
I was not disappointed because I did a test drive, and was not expecting to be able to drive what the GOM said on start up. You can call that luck, just as I could say the same when someone checked a car out with Leafspy, but neither would be 100% true. educated guess would be a better term.
Put another way, this winter we had two people with HV battery isolation issues, requiring major battery work, neither a test drive nor Leafspy would be able to predict that happening in the future.
 
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Without LeafSpy you don't know about a cell failure occurring sooner, and that you would want to know about since that low cell starts to kill range before age or mileage effects SOH. If I saw a used Leaf with 100mV or so cell difference that would make me suspicious enough to steer clear looking for one with the more typical and normal 25mV and under difference.
 
I do love my LEAF ! Over the decades I kept hoping some car manufacturer would get the EV job done. Then Obama worked with Think (from Norway) and I was happy -- I maybe could afford a used one some day. But that went down the drain. Then the Leaf began in 2011 and a friend bought a 2012. So in 2014 I got to drive it and was really impressed. Still couldn't afford one. In 2017 the Bolt arrived and the test drive was almost scary because of how much power was available. My faithful 4 cylinder pickup (2002 Nissan Frontier) was about to become not so reliable. I tried to convince my retired self that I could afford a car loan with my credit union. But my wife said get real. She also said that when it caught fire I could not cry about it. It seems she predicted the future of Chevy Bolts. So I settled for a 2014 Mazda 2 Sport with 6800 miles that cost $9400 with $1k for the pickup. The Mazda 2 is just not a popular car in Maine, but it served me very well for 3 years. Then Covid came and in early 2020 I saw that used car prices were falling including EVs. So looked at all the market and decided on a 2017 Nissan Leaf S. After looking as far afield as New York and Pennsylvania I saw some offered by Carvana for less than $15k.but they were well used and rough inside and out. Another month and suddenly a lot of return from 3 year lease became available and they were $13k to $15k. I chose my 2017 Leaf S with 16,200 miles and got a trade in of over $4200 on the Mazda so that I had a $11,200 loan. Carvana was very good to work with and I had to call them maybe 16 times to insure a smooth purchase. It took 3 weeks for Carvana to move the car from So. Cal. to Kittery, Maine. Now almost 4 years on I have over 35,000 miles on the Odo. and am still at 10 battery bars. My expenses so far have been 4 Nokian GR4W All-Weather tires (5.4 mi/kWh when new), got the front end alignment done. a 12 volt battery the first winter and wiper blades. I charge at home Level 2 and when taking a long trip the best charging station available. Several 250 mile trips but most common are 12 to 17 mile round trips. There are just enough charging station locations in Maine to do most trips, just can't go into the North Woods. Think of all the worry gone from my life over replacement fluids and engine parts. I liked Cornbinder 89's logical approach to buying a limited range EV. and while the Leaf was never intended to be more than a city car, it does well on the hills of mid-coast Maine and our rural life.
 
Without LeafSpy you don't know about a cell failure occurring sooner, and that you would want to know about since that low cell starts to kill range before age or mileage effects SOH. If I saw a used Leaf with 100mV or so cell difference that would make me suspicious enough to steer clear looking for one with the more typical and normal 25mV and under difference.
I agree it can be a useful tool, but there are other ways to get similar info and neither are 100% guaranty of future results. Use it, but don't let it be the sole determining factor.
True range is best determined by actually driving it and seeing what that range is, how the SOC drops while under real world conditions.
Nothing will be a predictor of a cell failure of the type that results in a HV isolation problem. I chose this as an example as it will likely cost as much to fix as a weak cell, we had at least two over the winter, and neither was predicted.
If you have Leafspy handy, why not use it? but don't expect it to show all future problems.
 
Early last year,looked at my current budget, anticipated new future expenses and saw there was going to be a problem. So i spent a few months researching hybrids, EVs, and wee 4-bangers. I was looking into Honda Fit and stumbled upon the used Nissan Leaf possibility. Found a company a couple states away that refurbishes older Leaf models with parts from newer wrecked versions and i ended up down the rabbit hole of researching and determining feasibility. Then i sold my 1y/o Nissan Frontier, without a planned replacement, to balance my future budget shortfall. Then i convinced my Wife that a Leaf would satisfy all of her daily driving needs and bought one from several states away and it was delivered. So now we have a 2013 Leaf with some new suspension parts, 2019 wheels, and 2019 40kwh battery. No regrets, reduced our transportation costs by more than 50%, and now i have to make sure i drive the other car just enough so the tires dont get flat spots from sitting.
 
I would disagree about those so-called "safety features" . . . I am one who wouldn't be upset to see all of these functions removed from vehicles. We don't need automation, we need responsible drivers.
Agreed. One of the things I like about our Leaf is the dearth of hi-tech gizmos.
 
I bought a used 2013 Leaf SL in 2015. 13,300 miles, $16,000 dollars. Added the Nissan backup camera and discount-auto LED daytime running lights in 2016 myself. Did the 2G-3G telematics update in 2017 for $200. Replaced the tires in 2018 for $950. Replaced the 12-volt battery in 2019 for $140. That's it.

Today the car has 72,300 miles on the odometer, 9 bars on the dash display, and SOH of ~60.2% (bounces around between 60.0 and 60.4 % on various trips) according to LeafSpy. We use it exclusively for shopping and other trips in the area, reserving our Tesla Model S for trips of about 50 miles or longer, so the Tesla accumulates maybe 50% more monthly miles although it's used far less often.

We've been very happy with the car. I should probably take it to a dealer for the several recall notices I've ignored and for an overall inspection. The are no obvious issues, but it is 11 years old and hasn't seen a dealer for 7 years.
 
We purchased my 2018 Leaf SL in May of 2018. I'm retired now so I don't use it for commuting just for errands and grocery shopping. I love my car (adaptive cruise control is life-changing!). We installed solar a year and a half ago and then batteries a year ago so the car gets charged by the sun.
 
Reacting to the title of this post... I guess we have been the exception to the rule because we've had a positive experience with our 2017 Nissan Leaf SV. I bought it 2.5 years ago with ~45k miles as an experiment to see how if our family would enjoy owning an EV. There were only 7 bars (range about 75 miles) so I was counting on Nissan to replace the battery, and they came through with flying colors with a free 40kwh replacement! Yes, it took a LONG time, but this was not an issue for us because I had planned to keep my other vehicle until the Leaf was finished. Now, I get 130+ miles on a full charge.

I thoroughly enjoy driving the Leaf zipping around town to drop off kids, get groceries, grab takeout, etc. without having to pay for gas! I wish more of you had a similar, positive experience as well.

We've only had to do basic maintenance (replaced tires and wipers) on our Leaf. My only two complaints are related to this being a no-frills car. First, the cabin materials are bare bones cheap. The plastic and fabric (floormats and seats) never look that great even after you have given it a decent cleaning. Second, I really wish the US version had a removable headrest for a 3rd passenger in the backseat.

Unfortunately, I am selling it because my wife loves her Tesla more (which is a total money pit, in case you're wondering). *sigh*
 
I'm driving a used 2015 24kwh which has 135,000 miles on the clock. 72%soh and covers all my daily driving needs just fine. I am really happy with it. We have an ICE 7-seater which is used when we need to get the whole family in and longer journeys. Drovong the leaf is much more enjoyable!
 
I agree it can be a useful tool, but there are other ways to get similar info and neither are 100% guaranty of future results. Use it, but don't let it be the sole determining factor.
There is no better way to check the Leaf battery and someone laying out money on a car who might already be nervous about jumping into the world of EV (after all many buyers do start with a used vehicle). For $25-50 OBD2 (which can be used on any vehicle) it's just silly not to be armed with all you can before purchase. A test drive at 80-90% SOC might not be obvious to the driver who is paying more attention to driving and checking out a car they are interesting in buying. You of all people who proclaim to test and diagnose problems correctly before doing something should be advocating the use the best tool that you can get to make a wise expensive decision.
 
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