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8 Common Problems Of A Nissan Leaf

8 Common Problems Of A Nissan Leaf

What kind of problems does a Nissan Leaf Hybrid usually have? In this blog, we’ve outlined the most common issues you might encounter in a Leaf Hybrid. However, let’s first start with a quick answer.

The most common issue of the Nissan Leaf was its rapidly deteriorating battery which was a significant concern for its earlier models. Some critical problems faced by Nissan Leaf were the Automatic Emergency Braking problems in the 2011 to 2017 models and the airbag sensor issues of the 2013 to 2016 models. Other minor issues include the sunroof problems and EVAP system clog in the 2011 to 2017 models and the restricted rear visibility issue in the 2018 to 2020 models.

That was the most straightforward answer possible. In the article below, we’ll discuss every problem in detail. This includes identifying it, fixing it, and determining how much it costs to repair. Read on!

1. Battery Life Problems

Nissan Leaf’s earlier models are infamous for having serious battery degradation problems. Nissan used 24kWh batteries in their original Nissan Leaf, but these batteries were produced without a TMS or thermal management system resulting in rapid deterioration of the battery range, especially in very hot environments. Reports state that the early models lose a quarter of their capacity in five years.

The 2011 to 2015 models are important models to watch out for and avoid. Not only do they have batteries that are affected by hot environments they are also around ten years old or are going to hit that mark soon. Julian Sale, owner of Motorize Electric Vehicles, a Vancouver Island seller of new and used EVs, said, “A 10-year-old EV from 2011 will provide one-third of the capacity that it had when it was new”.

According to Nissan web forums, Nissan offers a standard eight-year or 100,000 miles warranty, which is good, especially considering that many consumers claim to be on their second battery within this time.

Replacing the battery is quite an expense. It will cost you at least $5000 (for the earliest 24kWh battery) and can cost up to $10,000 (for the 62kWh battery pack).

Also read: How To Charge A Nissan Leaf With Level 1, Level 2 Or Level 3 Charger

2. Automatic Emergency Braking Problems

The AEB or Automatic Emergency Braking system allows the Nissan Leaf to automatically apply the brakes if the sensors at the front of the car detect a possible collision. Under normal circumstances, such a system is beneficial and can prevent serious crashes or injuries. However, in the case of the Nissan Leaf, this system may cause crashes and injuries instead of preventing them as it randomly employs the emergency brakes, which in turn could result in a rear-end collision with an oncoming vehicle.

This AEB failure is caused by faulty sensors that trigger without the threat of potential collisions. A software glitch may also be responsible for the same problem. This problem was not fixed under a recall, but Nissan released multiple technical service bulletins for the problem, and the sensors should be replaced under warranty, free of charge.

If you’re looking to buy a used Nissan Leaf, then you probably don’t have to worry about the issue since it generally shows up at low mileage and was a problem seen in the earlier models, 2011 – 2017.  Thus, by the time the vehicle changes ownership, the problem is likely already resolved.

3. Passenger Air Bag Problems

A problem concerning the 2013 to 2016 models of the Nissan Leaf is airbag deployment failure for the front-seat passenger. This is caused by the Occupant Classification System (OCS), which identifies if the seat is occupied. Unfortunately, the system is faulty and incorrectly classifies that a seat is not occupied, resulting in the passenger seat airbag deactivation. In the case of a crash, serious, even fatal, injuries could be incurred by the passenger if the airbag is not deployed.

Nissan issued a recall for this problem which required the dealers to reprogram the Airbag Control Unit (ACU) and replace the OCS Electronic Control Unit (ECU) to fix the problem. All done free of charge.

This problem poses a severe safety risk, so if you’re in the market for a used Nissan Leaf, it’s best to check if the vehicle was a part of the recall and inquire if it was taken in for the fix.

4. Limited Rear Visibility

Another problem commonly found in some Nissan Leaf models was a loss of the rearview image. This was solely a software issue that would present itself once the backup camera and display settings were changed. A loss of the rearview image severely restricts the rear visibility increasing the risk of accidents and collisions, especially when reversing the vehicle. This lack of rear visibility also meant that the Nissan Leaf failed to comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and required an official ‘fix’.

Therefore, a recall was issued for 2018 – 2020 Nissan Leaf models, among other Nissans, and the fix was a simple one. The dealers would update the backup camera setting software, and the issue would be resolved, all done free of charge.

If you’re in the market for a 2018-2020 Nissan Leaf, it’s best to check if the rearview image is being displayed while reversing and ask about the recall status for the vehicle you’re interested in.

5. Air Conditioning Problems

There have been some complaints about the air conditioning unit in the Nissan Leaf. This air conditioning problem can be traced to two faulty parts: a refrigerant hose and a compressor.

The problem with the hose is that over time it develops cracks and starts leaking refrigerant. Eventually, enough of the refrigerant leaks to make the air conditioning futile. The solution is to replace the hose and have the aircon re-gassed. This will cost you around $150.

The second cause of the air conditioning problem is a faulty compressor. The compressor failure could be indicated by an audible grinding noise when the AC is switched on. The solution to this problem is to replace the compressor, which will set you back anywhere from $350 to $1000. 

6. Sunroof Problems

There were multiple complaints about the Nissan Leaf’s sunroof. The consumers reported that their sunroof easily cracked and, in some cases, exploded. The problem was in the design of the sunroof; it was made from a thinner glass for this model, which allowed it to save weight and improve efficiency. However, this also meant that the glass was weaker and could crack or explode more easily than could be expected from a car.

There is only one solution to this problem, and it’s not a cheap one. The sunroof has to be replaced, and that will cost between $1000 to $2000, which is steep. The sunroof problem is heavy on the wallet, especially if you consider the $1000 already spent to get the sunroof option in the first place.

The problem was primarily found in the 2011 to 2017 models of the Nissan Leaf, which could mean that Nissan rectified the problem or improved the sunroof’s strength for the later models.

7. EVAP System Clog

A problem shared by most Nissan models from 2003 to 2017 is the EVAP system clog. The EVAP system or evaporative emission control system traps gas vapors that try to escape the tank and recirculates them. The tube between the fuel tank and the EVAP vapor canister is what gets clogged up. This can trigger the check engine light or result in gas spilling out of the tank on your next refill.

Fortunately, Nissan is aware of this problem and covers the cost of fixing the vapor tube clog under its warranty. It even announced a warranty extension to 15 years or 15,000 miles, whichever comes first.

A visit to the dealership is not needed unless the problem presents itself. 

8. Soy-Coated Wiring

Soy-Coated wiring has become a common issue for most brands, including Nissan. Most automakers switched to soy-based coating for their wiring because it was more biodegradable and so more eco-friendly. Although it’s better for the environment, it’s also better for the automaker as these soy-based coatings are cheaper than their plastic counterparts.

The problem with these soy-based coatings is that they attract rodents which then like to chew on them and use them as nesting material. This could cause an array of problems, any system that utilizes wires accessible to these rodents is at risk of failing. This has become quite the problem since there is no easy solution, and it’s a problem found in most vehicles by most automakers.

There are some simple steps to include into your routine to try and catch these rodents before they cause an expensive problem. This includes regularly opening the hood and looking for signs of rodent activity, looking for shredded pieces of wire where you park your car, and cleaning out all the food in your car.

What’s The Worst Year Of The Nissan Leaf Hybrid?

Nissan Leafs are reliable cars that should last between 100,000 miles to 150,000 miles. They may require a post-warranty battery change between or after this period. The Nissan Leaf has been around for over a decade, offering two generations. We’d like to summarize what model years were the best and what years to avoid.

The model years to avoid are 2011, 2013, and 2015. These years were the most complained about, and their more notable problems were rapid battery deterioration and automatic emergency braking failure.

The rapid battery deterioration problem was worst for the 2011 model, and it’s also the most complained about, which is fair since it was Nissan Leaf’s launching year. Launching years tend to have the most problems in retrospect since the manufacturers work on and start fixing the issues in the years following the launch. 

All remaining years of the Nissan Leaf are great options. The later models have fewer complaints which could be due to Nissan fixing its old problems, or it’s just that these models have been used less so far.

When you’re in the market for a Nissan Leaf, it’s best to watch out for the airbag OCS recall in the 2013 to 2016 models, the limited rear visibility recall in 2018 to 2020 models, and the EVAP tube issue in models before 2018. Other than that, you should be all set.


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