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Troubleshooting a Nissan Leaf that won’t charge?
The Nissan Leaf is easy to troubleshoot especially if the issues you are facing are only related to charging. For the most part, this can be attributed to human error. Incorrect plugging or incorrect chargers are often to blame.
For more troublesome issues, the electrical system may be the one to blame. This can easily be remedied by replacing a worn or expired battery and your Nissan Leaf should be up and going in no time.
The most complicated issue you can face when troubleshooting a Nissan Leaf that won’t charge could be related to wiring. For this, you will need a certified technician to come and help you.
Lastly, there are Nissan Leafs that are defective due to a manufacturer’s quality control overlooking the issue before being handed off to the showroom. You can have these units replaced if you’ve proven that they made a mistake.
The Nissan Leaf is one of the most popular electric vehicles in existence today. At Over 500,000 units sold, it is one of the highest selling EVs in the world. It has even, at one point in time, outsold Tesla.
As with most EVs, there have been instances of Nissan Leafs malfunctioning. Recalls have been done for a few of them. The good news is that a vast majority of the Nissan Leaf is untainted with any defects or malfunctions.
So rest assured, you have a pretty robust EV with the performance to match. And troubleshooting a Nissan Leaf should be a rare occasion for owners like you.
This is the most basic way to deal with your vehicle if your Nissan Leaf starts then dies.
Although, the most sensible thing to do at this point is have your Nissan Leaf checked by an expert for any underlying problems that may remain hidden from the surface.
Preventive maintenance is your best bet when it comes to identifying issues present of about to arise and mitigate the situation immediately.
There are also some points/things to consider before doing any repairs to your Nissan Leaf.
Let’s tackle those first.
Some Conditions To Consider/Questions To Ask
Are You Still Within The Warranty Period?
Are you still within the warranty period? You are? Good. Stop. Have the manufacturer take a look before you do anything else lest you void the warranty.
Your warranty guarantees repairs from experts with minimal costs.
Do You Have An Owner’s Manual Available?
Is there an owner’s manual available? An owner’s manual is an invaluable source of answers for troubleshooting a Nissan leaf that won’t charge. Nissan Leafs, like all other production cars, have user manuals included in the glove compartment. Make sure you have it and read it before doing anything.
Are You Certified To Perform Repairs?
It is highly advised to perform any repair that would void your Nissan Leaf’s warranty. Basic repairs can be done if you’re handy enough but you are still at risk of causing more damage if you don’t know what you’re doing.
If you have any automotive certification, it’s best to undergo further training to cover EVs like the Nissan Leaf in your knowledge arsenal. After all, EVs are the future and everyone has to keep up or get left behind.
Is A Certified Mechanic Available?
Do you have access to a certified mechanic within your immediate locale? If so, hire them to do the repairs for you.
How Old Is Your Nissan Leaf?
Nissan Leafs deteriorate over time. This is an inescapable fact. Like all cars, parts wear down and eventual malfunction is expected. So, how old is your Nissan Leaf and is it time for a major overhaul?
How Old Are Your Batteries?
Batteries malfunction over time. Check all of your batteries to make sure none of them are expired or past the half-life point. There is an expiration date listed on top of your batteries so you’ll know when to replace them. Sometimes, a simple battery swap is enough to get your Nissan Leaf up and going again.
Is There Any History of Malfunction In The Past?
Has your Nissan Leaf malfunctioned in the past? This may or may not be related to your charging problems on the surface. A deeper diagnostic check could reveal a connection between the initial issue and the eventual total malfunction or charging issue.
Is The Malfunction Internal Or External?
Sometimes you have to ask if the malfunction is internal or external. Internal means your wirings from the charging port to the batteries and the brushless motors. External, your charging point itself from where it connects to the charging station.
When Was The Last Preventive Maintenance Performed?
Keep a log of the preventive maintenance schedules and when it was performed. Oftentimes, the lack of any preventive maintenance is the reason why Nissan Leafs malfunction.
What Did The Certified Mechanic Suggest?
Sometimes, during a preventive maintenance procedure, a mechanic will uncover issues that are either present or about to happen. They will have some recommendations suggested for you to take.
Is The Charging Port In Good Condition?
As a point of contact, the charging port will eventually show signs of wear and tear. Constant contact with the charger can wear off the protective lining leading to gaps where surfaces have to be flush with each other.
Are You Charging Through An Approved Charging Station?
Some charging stations are incompatible with the Nissan Leaf. This is a human error that can easily be resolved by finding the right charging station and getting power to your Leaf there.
Is The Overnight Charging Option On?
Is the overnight charging is on. Overnight charging is meant to be slower as it is expected that you are going to be resting during the entire duration. This prevents overcharging.
Have You Checked The Wiring?
Is your wiring harness in good condition? Are the points of contact conducting properly? Is there any loss of power from the charging point to the batteries?
Has There Been Any Instance Where You Completely Drained The Batteries?
It happens. There are times when you forget to charge your EV and use it down to the last drop of electricity stored in its batteries. When this happens, your batteries could get compromised.
How Many Times Has This Happened?
The number of times you’ve completely drained your batteries has an effect on your Nissan Leaf’s reliability. Batteries that have experienced complete draining eventually cannot store enough juice.
These are just some of the questions/things to consider before troubleshooting a Nissan Leaf that won’t charge. It’s no secret that preventive maintenance is the best way to ensure your Leaf’s longevity in the long run.
Still, the above-mentioned solutions are only the tip of the iceberg.
Understanding Your Nissan Leaf’s Electrical System
Troubleshooting a Nissan Leaf that won’t charge ultimately warrants a closer look into the vehicle’s electrical system.
Because the Nissan Leaf is an electric vehicle, it’s system operates on a different level than that of an internal combustion engine vehicle. For a better understanding, make sure you consult the Owner’s Manual before operating your Nissan Leaf.
The amount of knowledge you can get from scanning through those pages is priceless. Understanding your vehicle better is always a good thing. Ask any car guy.
But here’s what you’ll basically find out after reading your Owner’s Manual: your Leaf, although very car-like, has very unique operating characteristics.
As an electric vehicle, it does not require any gasoline. It is fueled by the amount of electricity stored in your batteries. Your batteries are lithium ion (Li-ion) and it will discharge in small amounts when you operate your vehicle.
Like an internal combustion engine without fuel in the tank, when you’ve used up all the electricity stored in your battery, your Nissan Leaf will stop working. You will need to re-charge the battery to get it going again.
Charging your Leaf takes anywhere between 30 minutes to 21 hours depending on the amount of electricity used up and charging mode used.
Your Nissan Leaf Has Two Types Of Batteries
The Nissan Leaf uses two types of batteries, a 12-volt battery (the same as what you’ll find in a conventional internal combustion vehicle) and a high voltage LI-ion battery.
The 12-volt battery is the one that powers up everything inside your Nissan Leaf plus the headlights, windshield wipers and supplemental restraint systems.
The Li-ion battery is the one that moves the Nissan Leaf forward by powering the electric motor. The Li-ion battery is also responsible for charging the 12-volt battery.
To charge the vehicle, the Nissan Leaf has to use specific plugs that feed electricity into the Li-ion battery. The internal system then takes over and switches back and forth to feed both batteries. You can choose fast charging or trickle charging based on the urgency of the situation.
You’ll know your Nissan Leaf is charging by checking that the three lights on the dash light up in order. If it’s flashing, then your Nissan Leaf has a charging issue. This might be a human error. Check to see that you’ve plugged it in correctly.
If everything looks in order, check the Owner’s Manual or call a mechanic.
Last but not least, check if you have the latest software updates. Nissan sends out information regarding software updates on a regular basis. Take advantage of this to make sure your EV is in optimal condition, physically, electronically and digitally.
You can also extend your range by converting the driving force into electricity. This happens when the regenerative brakes kick in when you’re going downhill or decelerating.
Caring For Your Li-ion Battery
Your Nissan Leaf has a high voltage Li-ion battery. Respect the Li-ion. Here’s why:
If the Li-ion battery is disposed of improperly, there is a risk of severe burns and electrical shock that may result in serious injury or death and there is also a risk of environmental damage.
Treat your Li-ion battery with care and respect in the same manner that you would the jungle cat with the almost the same name.
As added pre-cautionary measures, here are the manufacturer’s instructions:
To prevent damage to the Li-ion battery:
- Do not expose a vehicle to extreme ambient temperatures for extended periods.
- Do not store a vehicle in temperatures below −13°F (−25°C) for over seven days.
- Don’t leave your vehicle for over 14 days where the Li-ion battery available charge gauge reaches a zero or near zero (state of charge).
- Do not use the Li-ion battery for any other purpose.
Don’t Know What To Do? Get An Expert
Modern vehicles are more complicated these days to troubleshoot because of the vast array of electrical components and sensors installed. In fact, doing DIY repairs could lead to your warranty getting voided by the manufacturers.
This is especially true if the repairs needed involve the ECU, sensitive electrical components and fragile sensors.
Don’t risk losing your Leaf’s warranty just to save a few bucks. Better yet, get some formal training and get certified so you can perform the right type of repair without adding to the damages incurred.
A good mechanic will have the right tools with him to diagnose your problem, provide a solution, and a quotation for the total amount needed for the repairs.
Once your mechanic has that information, he’ll do a physical check of all the components involved in the issue. Through this process, he’ll be able to discover the nature of the failure and repair/replace the faulty/damaged component.
Quotations And Additional Questions
After the initial diagnosis process is done, you will receive a quotation for the total price associated with the repairs and replacements. At this point, you can ask your mechanic for alternative solutions, cheaper parts available, basic preventive maintenance tips and others.
Take advantage of the opportunity to get your money’s worth and acquiring new knowledge.
If you’re confident enough, you can go the DIY route afterwards for the same type of repair.
Nissan Leaf Force Reset (Or When In Doubt, Hit The Reset Button)
Think of your EV as an oversized computer with wheels when troubleshooting a Nissan Leaf that won’t charge. When in doubt, you can always hit the reset button and hope for the best.
There’s no actual button though. But, you can essentially reset the Nissan Leaf by unplugging the batteries at the terminal.
Here’s how to do it:
- Pop the hood open and locate your 12 volt battery.
- Disconnect the positive and negative terminals. Just loosen the bolts and slide the rings out.
- Wait for 10 minutes.
- Reconnect the batteries. Take extra care in re-attaching the terminals and make sure that this is done in the correct manner.
- Charge the Nissan Leaf.
That’s basically it. If that doesn’t work, consult the Owner’s Manual or call a mechanic. You probably have a bigger problem with your Nissan Leaf and fooling around with the vehicle could lead to more issues.
What Type Of Battery Is Best For My Nissan Leaf?
Nissan Leafs come with vehicle appropriate standard batteries as stock features. If you’re about to replace your batteries, get heavy-duty, maintenance-free batteries for ease of use and convenience. Check the owner’s manual to see what type of battery is best for your Nissan Leaf.
The Tesla CyberTruck Is Coming. Should I Upgrade?
Yes. Or you can get a Tesla Cybertruck and keep your Nissan Leaf. The Nissan Leaf is a perfectly serviceable EV that performs well under most conditions. The only thing lacking is the space that the Cybertruck can provide. It is perfect for short jaunts and maneuvering around the city easily.
I’m Buying A Second Hand Leaf. Is It Still Reliable?
Yes. Most Nissan Leafs being sold in the market are from owners who were disappointed with their EV’s performance or looks. These are owners who only purchased a Leaf for the novelty factor EVs pose. For those who seriously considered buying a Leaf, their vehicles are still in pristine condition.
Troubleshooting a Nissan Leaf can be an easy task if you’re handy and an owner’s manual is available. There are simple checks you can make to find out what’s wrong with your car through that manual. There are also suggested repairs the manufacturer offers so you won’t have to bring your EV in.
For more complicated issues, the best thing to do is call a certified mechanic to check and repair your car.