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Catastrophic Failure of Heating System

Posted: Wed Dec 30, 2015 3:03 pm
by coloradoren
I noticed in April/May that the heater in my 2012 Leaf SL wasn't working right but because of the known crappiness of Leaf heating, I quickly forgot about it when the summer started. I remembered the issue a couple weeks ago when the temps dropped and it turns out it wasn't heating at all. I brought it to the dealer and lo and behold they want $4,000 for a completely new heating unit since this one has failed. :shock:

I cannot believe this is even a real amount they are quoting me and I never would have bought the car if I had any idea that something like this on a nearly new vehicle was a possibility (part of the justification for buying the car was that there would be no big ticket transmission/engine repairs in the several thousands).

The part that really pisses me off is that my warranty ended in October and even though the problem occurred well before then, Nissan is being very by the book and insisting the car is out of warranty. This is obviously very frustrating because my car still only has 21,000 miles on it and because I've always babied it, it looks and drives brand new. There was never a warning light of any kind or any indication of the problem except for the heat not blowing which I didn't notice in the hot summer/autumn months.

Needless to say, this is a crappy turn of events and now I highly regret buying the car in the first place. I wanted to help the progress of EVs by getting on board but never would have taken the plunge if I'd known something like this was a possibility. End rant...

Ok, my question for you all is has anyone else experienced this problem before?

Re: Catastrophic Failure of Heating System

Posted: Wed Dec 30, 2015 3:24 pm
by LeftieBiker
First, this isn't a "catastrophic failure" in any sense except for the financial one. I was picturing fire or flood when I read the title. Anyway, the real issue is that you didn't document the problem in any way while the warranty was in effect. Even a phone call to the dealership might have been enough to get it fixed later, under warranty. It's an outside chance, but when you do get it fixed, have the mechanic or tech look for corrosion or other physical signs of a critical part having failed at least six months ago. Nissan might accept that, and at least split the cost with you. As for this being a common problem, there have been a lot of defective PTC heaters in later model S Leafs, but I don't know if it's the exact same unit or not.

Re: Catastrophic Failure of Heating System

Posted: Wed Dec 30, 2015 3:31 pm
by Stanton
The more common heater failures were with resistive heaters in earlier model Leafs (and the "S" version, which yours is not). If you're lucky, you might get them to split the cost with you. It's already been said, but you "missed the boat" when you didn't do something about it when it wasn't working last April/May.

Re: Catastrophic Failure of Heating System

Posted: Wed Dec 30, 2015 5:32 pm
by Firetruck41
It shouldn't cost that much, the main HVAC system in the cabin is $950 (parts cost), and the PTC heater element is in the $1300 neighborhood from what I can see. The PTC element seems to be a relatively common failure point. The problem is the PTC element is discontinued and I can find no replacement for the superseded P/N... and no reference to a PTC element that is currently available, after searching a bunch of Nissan OEM parts stores. Might make a phone call to a discount OEM nissan parts dealer/store and see if you can get a cost/availability on the PTC heater element. I would think it should be much less that $4k even with labor.

EDIT: I was able to find it (PTC heater) on Nissans parts website which links to local dealers for $1,116, out of stock but available for order: Nissan of Portland, P/N B7A43-00QOF

Re: Catastrophic Failure of Heating System

Posted: Wed Dec 30, 2015 9:59 pm
by ElectricEddy
Any diagnostic codes ? Might be as little as a sensor.

Re: Catastrophic Failure of Heating System

Posted: Thu Dec 31, 2015 12:31 pm
by XeonPony
From what I understand they redesigned the 2011/12 heater system so they do the upgrade when repairing

This is not at all catastrophic, if we miss use words they lose all meaning!

My 2013 had the ptc die at 16000km, I made damned sure to have it well recorded date time Km at the dealer ship and Nissan corp! took them damned well 2 years to fix it and typical with my luck that winter it died it was -60c out (real numbers not that bs fake wind chill number!)

As others have said best to just pay to have them look at it and see if they can clearly show the failure is old and may get some warranty help, other wise sol, take the lesson home to report issues the second you notice them, rather then later.

As for the mode of failure yes it seems to be a common weak point in these cars.

Re: Catastrophic Failure of Heating System

Posted: Thu Dec 31, 2015 7:43 pm
by GerryAZ
2011 and 2012 Leafs all have a hot water heater system. The later models have a dry heating element only on S models. The SV and SL models have the dry heating element combined with heat pump. There have been failures reported with the dry heating elements and with the heat pump systems, but the 2011 and 2012 heating and air conditioning systems have been quite reliable (until now).

I had no trouble at all with the heater and air conditioning systems in my 2011 during the 3-1/2 years and 50,000 miles I drove it. I even used it after the accident to partially discharge the battery for long-term storage because I knew that repairs would take a long time if the insurance company chose not to declare it a total loss.

I suspect the dealer quoted a price to replace everything associated with the heater. There are several sensors, HVAC control module, coolant pump, power controller for heating elements, the heating elements themselves, motor-operated air flow dampers, and associated wiring harnesses. Loose wiring connections or failure of any component would lead to loss of heating. The actual cost of repair depends upon what actually failed. I suggest you question how the dealer determined the repair cost and ask what actually failed before you authorize repairs.


Re: Catastrophic Failure of Heating System

Posted: Thu Dec 31, 2015 10:16 pm
by speedski97
So a simple test, with the car readied up ( ready to drive )set the heater to 90 degrees and defrost ( max heat request) in the power use page of the center display does it show the 5,000 watts use for the A/C use? that will give an indication if heater element is working ? For the heater to work you need to make hot water, then pump the water though the heater core, and blow air over the heater core. find out which one of these is not happening in your car and fix it. or have it fixed... Most shops are looking for work this time of year find a small shop with smart techs. start with the word please, it goes a long way...

Re: Catastrophic Failure of Heating System

Posted: Thu Dec 31, 2015 10:29 pm
by LeftieBiker
Yes, keep in mind that dealerships usually (not always) follow the following repair procedure: start replacing modules associated with the failed system until it starts working properly again. Some try to save time by just replacing the whole system. I was once quoted $3k for a transmission replacement, when what the car needed was a $300 (parts and labor, total) external solenoid.

Re: Catastrophic Failure of Heating System

Posted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:04 pm
by Pcosman
I have a 2013 leaf with 30k miles on it. My heater just quit working about a week ago I got it to the dealer and they told me it would cost $2033 to replace the PTC Heater and reprogram the VDC. The part cost $850 and the rest is labor. I have been looking for a video or a tutorial that would show steps to replace it.
I not complaining about the car I still love it. I have had it for a year and operating cost have been about $500. If it was a gas car it would have cost about $3000 for gas and tune up's.