SamHobbs
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Determining range of a used vehicle

Wed Jun 10, 2020 9:53 pm

I have noticed that when someone posts their own vehicle in Craig's List they often are clear about the range and/or the bars. Dealers do not, at least not in ads such as Carfax.

But then I realized that they often post pictures of the Vehicle Information Display. That is commonly called the dashboard, right? So I have done a lot of research about that and find more confusion than answers. I think however I have it figured out. Since I am looking at used vehicles I am referring to vehicles of 2015 and before. I looked at a user guide for a 2019 model and they seem different.

In the right of the Vehicle Information Display there is an area that has the current battery charge, the estimated battery capacity (indicating how much the battery is capable of storing) and the estimated range. The estimated battery capacity is a vertical row of narrow bars; like boxes. Those are the bars that people refer to when they talk about the bars, right? To the left are horizontal bars that indicate the current charge. And in the lower left (of the current charge) is a number indicating the estimated range. So if the vehicle is not fully charged then I can look at the current charge to estimate what the vehicle is likely capable of on a full charge, right?

If that is all correct then I wish people would write help articles as simple as that. I did not find such a thing.

LeftieBiker
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Re: Determining range of a used vehicle

Wed Jun 10, 2020 11:50 pm

The problem with the above is that while it would be nice if it were that simple, it isn't. The range estimator has earned the nickname "Guess O Meter" because of its inaccuracy in multiple EVs. In the gen I Leaf, for example, it just takes the last few minutes of energy consumption the last time the car was driven, and extrapolates that into available range. This ONLY works out when the last few minutes of driving just happened to consume energy at the same rate as the average rate for a typical drive by the car's owner. Most often what happens is you get a wildly optimistic estimate based on the car being driven gently to a stop and parked. Sometimes, in dealership lots especially, you will see a pessimistic range estimate based on lead-footed test drivers' energy use. So while the capacity bars are usually roughly correct*, the range estimate is nearly useless when car shopping.

Speaking of which, I suggest you read my used Leaf buying guide:

https://www.mynissanleaf.com/viewtopic. ... 2&p=538030


* Capacity bars can be reset to a full, incorrect reading of 12, by rebooting the car's Battery Management System, or BMS. Even when not tampered with, the 12th (sometimes also know as the first) bar is worth fully 15% of the battery's capacity, while subsequent bars are worth only about 6% each. Thus a "12 bar" Leaf can have between 85% and 99.9% of full capacity.
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SamHobbs
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Re: Determining range of a used vehicle

Thu Jun 11, 2020 12:09 am

Thank you.

Well most of what you are saying is that the range estimator is not a useful indicator.

So let us concentrate on what is useful you say the capacity bars are usually roughly correct and that helps.

As for your article, how much of the details can be determined by VIN? Someone should write a program that can filter the details based on VIN. Certainly there are many things that cannot be done; I am only suggesting the things that can be done. And that is off-topic from my question so I should ask in a separate thread if relevant.

LeftieBiker
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Re: Determining range of a used vehicle

Thu Jun 11, 2020 12:20 am

As for your article, how much of the details can be determined by VIN? Someone should write a program that can filter the details based on VIN. Certainly there are many things that cannot be done; I am only suggesting the things that can be done.
The VIN won't help with information on battery capacity. You have two or three options for that: if you think the seller is honest, and they didn't just buy the car from someone else, you can trust the capacity bars. You can also take a 10 mile or longer test drive, and try to estimate the actual real world range, which you can then compare with the capacity bar reading. You can also arrange to do a charge capacity test, calculating how many KWHs it takes to "fill" the battery, and compare that with the 24KWH (minus about 2KWH that are 'reserved') capacity of a new Leaf.

If you think that none of these options are easy, or great, you are correct. It is even worse with other used EVs.
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Stanton
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Re: Determining range of a used vehicle

Thu Jun 11, 2020 7:26 am

Why wasn't it recommend that the OP take a LeafSpy or LeafDD reading?
I wouldn't buy any used Leaf without taking an AHr measurement.
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Re: Determining range of a used vehicle

Thu Jun 11, 2020 8:48 am

Stanton wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 7:26 am
Why wasn't it recommend that the OP take a LeafSpy or LeafDD reading?
I wouldn't buy any used Leaf without taking an AHr measurement.
LeafSpy shows a lot of resolution.
But not more accuracy.
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SamHobbs
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Re: Determining range of a used vehicle

Thu Jun 11, 2020 9:41 am

As for use of LeafSpy or LeafDD, I am asking what can be determined based on pictures of the dashboard. Certainly there is much to do after selection of a candidate and after initial contact with the dealer.

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Re: Determining range of a used vehicle

Thu Jun 11, 2020 12:09 pm

Be very skeptical of any 2015 LEAF or older that still shows 12 capacity bars. An outlier LEAF of that age, from Washington or Oregon, may still have 12 legit bars, but any hotter climates would be harder on the battery, so 12 legit capacity bars would be extremely unlikely...

If the LEAF shows less than 12 bars, it's likely legitimate as it would be harder for the seller to BMS reset and then fake less than 12 bars.

If the LEAF has the DC quick charging package, then you can estimate capacity by adding 50% charge at a DC quick charger (i.e. charge from 30% to 80%) and then doubling the kWhs that the charger reported. However, keep in mind that there are losses, so that's a ballpark estimate.

A better estimate can be made via a range test.
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