One morning recently when I unplugged and started my vehicle I saw a warning lamp on the dashboard. I had seen this lamp once several years before after charging at a faulty public charging station. I wasn’t too concerned, the car drove fine. I power cycled the car when I got to work and the light went out and stayed out. Problem solved. That is until I tried to plug the car in to charge. It refused to charge even after several attempts.
Error codes from my LEAF
I have a program called LEAFSpyPro that can read the diagnostics codes from the cars computer. I saw 21 problem codes. Uh-Oh I thought, last time this light came on I got just two. With enough miles left to get me back home and onto the Nissan dealer I decided to drop the car off for repair after work.
When I got to the dealer, I shared the problem and showed the diagnostic codes to the service advisor. He asked me if I had replaced the 12v battery. No, never, was my response. Well hopefully that’s all it would be, he spoke of several LEAFs they had worked on that refused to charge and the root cause was a weak 12v battery. However the call I received the next day was not good, the 12v battery was just fine, the fault was with the built in battery charging assembly, estimated cost to repair $2,581. Unable to charge the car and with 19 miles remaining I had little choice but to get the car fixed.
Extended Warranty, good while it lasts. When I purchased the car new I bought an extended warranty good for 8 years or 100,000 miles. The car had been very reliable and and thankfully I didn’t need to use the warranty much. Six months after the warranty expired, this happened. That’s what you call bad luck. I knew that this was a risk but reasoned with the 100,000 miles of trouble free driving and only a year to take delivery of my Tesla Model 3 it should be an acceptable risk. After all I have done all the recommended maintenance. I’ve driven plenty of other cars without a warranty, and had pretty good luck, if you maintain a car it typically is faithful.
Other components in the LEAF such as the main drive motor and the inverter are also expensive assemblies. Driving a LEAF without a warranty is a financial time bomb, there are multiple expensive components that can fail, and few shops that are trained and certified to repair these EV components. With the high voltages in an EV fixing the car yourself without the expertise could prove fatal.
Good for just 100,000 miles.
It seems clear to me now that one should only drive a LEAF with a warranty. Once it gets to 100,000 miles, the car should be traded.
Fact or Myth? EV’s are cheaper to maintain. Err that would be a myth, despite fewer moving parts, the electrical components such as Battery, Charger, Inverter and Motor are all expensive.
Update 2017-07-13 Nissan agrees to refund $1,000
Nissan Consumer Affairs were able to arrange for a $1,000 refund for this repair given that it occurred close to the battery replacement just 8 months prior. See this post.