EV Owner Story: Our Old Nissan Leaf Just Sent Us A Selfie!

3 years ago by Assaf Oron 16

I have never been a car person.

Scratch that: I *had* never been a car person, until we stumbled into EV world by leasing a 2012 Leaf. That heaven-blue wonder was my first “car person” car. So it will always be close to our hearts, even though it was only a lease.

Yup, this is the current Google Street View of our home, starring the 2012 Leaf a few days before it was returned.

Yup, this is the current Google Street View of our home, starring the 2012 Leaf a few days before it was returned.

Our two-year lease was due late August, but starting in May, various outfits at Nissan started pestering us with emails, phones, letters and pigeon-grams explaining how great it would be to dump it earlier and get a new one. Particularly tone-deaf was Magic Nissan, the dealership who had leased us the 2012: they sent us a brochure full of ICE Nissans, with no mention of Leafs.

Anyway… by early July these corporate pests, and the dwindling 2014-model inventory (have you noticed? Nissan only sold the 2014 for 6 months!), managed to wear us down. I signed a new lease almost 2 months ahead of time, and on the 12th drove to Eastside Nissan, dropped off our 2012 and picked up a shiny silver 2014.

July 12, a tearful farewell to Old Leafie

July 12, a tearful farewell to Old Leafie

I was still intensely curious too see what befalls our Leaf Ex. See, I decided that the way to maximize our contribution to EV adoption is to lease-and-return every two years until the technology matures sufficiently. Beside being a reasonable techno-financial strategy at present, this maximizes the number of EVs we help put on the road – and also enables people of more limited means to get their hands on affordable used EVs. All that, of course, depends on our Ex EVs finding a new home, starting with the 2012 Leaf. Hence my curiosity.

Given that we had driven it only for an extremely low 8.4k miles in two years, I thought the dealership would rush it to market as an excellent resale prospect. That dealership has a couple of used Leafs advertised at any given time. I trolled their used for-sale pages for weeks on end, and nothing. Nothing showed up on the regional Craigslist either. For about a month, the CARWINGS connection to the 2012 still worked. It showed almost no movement. The car was just sitting somewhere. Then the CARWINGS line went dead, with a message indicating that either someone blocked the connection, or it just died out because the Leaf hadn’t moved for 14 days (which seemed about right).

What was going on? Does Nissan, despite all assurances to the contrary, scrap some of its Leafs? Was our Leaf Ex selected for some secret experiment, removing it from the road? If the car isn’t in circulation anymore, our putting-EVs-on-roads strategy is bust.

And then, when nearly all hope was lost, our beloved 2012 Leaf sent us a selfie. Isn’t it a charming one?

The Aforementioned "Selfie"

The Aforementioned “Selfie”

My wife actually thought it was some kind of identity-theft scam. But fortunately, that very morning I did learn, via someone nice at Magic Nissan, that it was sold at auction in August, and registered in New Jersey shortly afterwards. The quoted violation date was August 21. So the selfie is legit.

Actually, the letter reads more like a ransom mob from the Mob: “Pay this ($2.60 + $50 ‘fees’) or we’ll ruin your life”. The website’s opacity and the hostility of the person on their phone line reinforced the Mob notion.

So I called Eastside Nissan, after all they are the ones who told me in July to leave the license plates on (I came equipped with a screwdriver to take them off). Eastside said they deal with this kind of thing all the time, just send them a copy of the selfie and they’ll handle it. I called the Mob again, just to make sure they don’t send scary people to us (or to our credit rating) before the paperwork is sorted out. This time I got a much nicer gal who told me I can chill, they can’t do anything for 30 business days anyway, a tiny fact that was missing from the letter, She explained the omission along the lines of “we prefer to mess with people to make sure they call us”.

And there you have it, your Leaf will likely have a life after you. Possibly – just like the Classic Ex – it will be a more interesting life than the one it had with you, so eat your heart out. And next time I return a lease, I will remove the plates regardless of what the dealership people say.

PS: if you have access to a free detailed VIN check, feel free to share the full vehicle history. I scribbled the VIN next to the selfie but here it is in copy/paste mode: JN1AZ0CP3CT024379.

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16 responses to "EV Owner Story: Our Old Nissan Leaf Just Sent Us A Selfie!"

  1. MTN Ranger says:

    Is there a word for stalking a previously owned car?

    1. Assaf says:

      yeah, but the question here is who’s the stalker and who’s the stalkee? I think we have a valid claim that Leaf Ex is the one stalking us 🙂

      1. kdawg says:

        Reminds me of the “Where’s George” dollar bills. Maybe you should create a FB page or Twitter accnt for JN1AZ0CP3CT024379. Or people can just post a hashtag # with their vin number, and people can track their cars indefinately.

        #technology

  2. Scramjett says:

    “we prefer to mess with people to make sure they call us.”

    Yes, because, you know, the mob never does anything like that.

    1. Assaf says:

      She was the Good Cop 🙂

  3. David Murray says:

    I’ve also wondered what happened to our 2011 that we turned in when we upgraded to a 2013. I’m sure it is being driven around somewhere by now, that was 6 months ago.

  4. RAF says:

    Fpr $40 CARFAX will show you the details. They show 9 history records and should have dealer registration info for LEAF. http://goo.gl/ubRz61

    1. Assaf says:

      Yeah I’m too cheap to pay that.
      Also, via the government website you can get a similar service for $5 or $10.

  5. Phatcat73 says:

    You never should leave your old plates when you sell or return the car.

    1. sven says:

      I don’t know what the law is in Washington, but in my home state, NY, you are required by law to surrender your plates before cancelling your insurance coverage. If you don’t turn in your plates, the DMV will suspend your registration and can suspend your driver license. I guess the state is trying to prevent people from driving around without insurance by eliminating surplus plates from circulation. When you buy a car, the DMV won’t give you plates without showing proof of insurance.

      http://dmv.ny.gov/registration/surrender-vehicle-plates-dmv

      1. Scramjett says:

        I think California has something similar.

    2. sven says:

      In Washington you don’t have to surrender your old plates when you sell your car. The plates have “month and year tabs” that expire after 7 years, and the owner must then get new plates. But you do have to remove or invalidate the month and year tabs when you sell a car. In NYS we have registration stickers on the windshield that expire in 2 years, and no tabs/tags on the license plates.

      http://www.dol.wa.gov/vehicleregistration/platedisposal.html

  6. sven says:

    I’m glad to hear that Nissan didn’t scrap Old Leafie.

    I see that your beater Hyundai Santa Fe is also in the Google Street View pic that you posted. What’s its nickname? 🙂

    1. Assaf says:

      Actually none of our cars have nicknames. As said at start, we are not really car people – for us, a car has been just a way to get around, and occasionally a maintenance/expense headache.

      It has changed once we got our first Leaf, but still not so far as to make nicknames. I just made them up for the story, which is why they keep changing throughout the post 😉

      1. sven says:

        I would have guessed that your Santa Fe was nicknamed Old Stinky, since my photogenic memory seems to recall that in a previous story you said that it gives off an ominous odor. 😀

        http://insideevs.com/nissan-leaf-inadvertently-climbed-5100-foot-artist-point-without-sweat/

        Don’t take this the wrong way, but when I read that previous story, I rolled my eyes when I got to the part where you said the Santa Fe’s Check Engine Light is permanently on and it gives off an ominous odor while running. It sounds like the emissions system isn’t functioning properly and your Santa Fe is emitting excessive CO2, CO, NOX, HFC, and unburned hydrocarbons into the atmosphere. It just seemed hypocritical that someone preaching the environmental benefits of driving BEVs and the dangers of CO2 induced global warming would also knowingly drive a malfunctioning ICE that emitted more harmful emissions than it was designed to emit or allowed by the EPA to emit. It’s analogous to someone removing the catalytic converter from their ICE and not caring about the excessive emissions coming out of their tailpipe.

        As a daily pedestrian and sometimes bicycle commuter in a very densely populated urban area, vehicles running with the CEL light on and belching harmful crap out of their tailpipes is big pet peeve of mine as I hate breathing it in. Saying that you don’t drive the Santa Fe very often so that the extra emissions aren’t that much, would ring as hollow as a Coal Roller saying that he only rolls coal once in a while so that his extra emissions aren’t that much either.

        I assume Washington State doesn’t require annual emission tests for ICE vehicles, allowing you to keep this car on the road (NYS does, but an extra $100 will get a shady mechanic to pass a failing vehicle. NJ requires the DOT to do the emissions test at state inspection stations, so no cheating there). Why not go to AutoZone and have them read the check engine light codes for free, to see what’s causing the CEL to light up? It could be a simple fix like a bad oxygen sensor, or spraying some MAF cleaner onto the mass airflow sensor, or spraying some carb cleaner into the throttle body, or putting some fuel-system/fuel-injector cleaner into the gas tank.

        I didn’t bring any of this up in the comments to your previous story, since it was otherwise a very positive story about the utility of BEVs and just left it at that. 😀

        1. Assaf says:

          sven, I only now saw your comment. FWIW if you ever care to look, here are some answers.

          1. Ugh. The sweet blogosphere. The place where people always assume the worst about you – including the assumption that you are a perfectly incompetent idiot – and then proceed to be as mean to you as possible, while remaining blissfully anonymous themselves. Thanks for reminding me of that, but no thanks. And talk about hypocrisy. Not being a jerk is rule #1 and you just broke it big time with your comment.

          2. That clunker has been in the shop to fix the CEL multiple times. Mercifully WA state has a law that allows you to renew the tabs if you spent enough $$ trying to fix the problem. Short of replacing the entire engine I’m not sure there’s much to do at this point.

          3. The smell has probably nothing to do with the CEL, it’s just drops of burnt oil.

          4. If you follow (stalk?) me so closely, you should know more or less how not-often this car is used. It is now December and the last time the clunker moved was August. And when it moves, it goes out of town, hardly passing near any pedestrian or cyclist.

          5. I never claimed to be a saint. If, in your books, anyone who’s not a saint is hypocritical if they dare voice any opinion, then I wonder how you yourself can even look in the mirror. You do it anonymously, I suppose.