Canadian Regulators Open Investigation Into Nissan LEAF Brake System Malfunctions


Nissan LEAF

Nissan LEAF

It appears that the bitter cold weather in Canada may be affecting the operation of the braking system in the Nissan LEAF.

Per the Detroit News:

“Canadian regulators opened an investigation Wednesday into brake system malfunctions in Nissan Leaf electric vehicles in severe cold weather.”

The investigation includes 2013-2015 Model Year LEAFs.

This is not the first time a possible braking system issue related to the LEAF has surfaced.  Several owner complaints have been filed with the NHTSA (click complaints and search for service brakes), though none appear to be linked to cold weather.

Source: Detroit News, hat tip to George K!

Categories: Nissan


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13 Comments on "Canadian Regulators Open Investigation Into Nissan LEAF Brake System Malfunctions"

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Interesting. The only problem we’ve ever experienced with our 2013 Leaf (leased) was with the brakes. Lost braking regen, and leaking brake fluid from the controller. All fixed/replaced under the lease warranty, but still not confidence-inspiring. Not related to cold, though. We live in Southern California.

Interesting indeed. I’ve had my 2015 Leaf since July and haven’t had any brake related issues. Mind you 90% of my commute is freeway and I do drive in B mode most of the time.

It happens in sub 0F temperature. At startup brakes lights are lit on dashboard and brakes makes a lot of noise and lacks power.
We had a very cold February in Quebec and it happened to several of us here.

I’ve noticed that regen braking is variable and seems to be based on how the car “boots up”.

I’ve gotten in and felt like there was none, then stopped someplace, and after starting the car again, regen is back to normal.

I noticed similar with the A/C last weekend. Couldn’t get cold air, made a stop, then it was fine.

Welcome to the world of software driven car systems!

I can’t explain the cold air issues but the re-gen braking issues are probably related to the SOC of the battery and the battery temperature.

As I understand it the rate at which you can charge the battery is really dependent on those two factors. I notice it more with the range prediction reading. You jump in the car with 100% charge and look down and you can drive 160 km, drive for a few min (maybe 5 km) and you are down to 120 km. Get to around 100 km and the range indicator stays flat. What happens toward the end completely confuses me, you go from about 20 km to less than 10 km in a flash and then all sorts of voices tell you the world is going to end. I normally loose my bottle at that stage and charge on a regular L2 for 30 min and w-ha-hey I gain 30 km, which is clearly non-sense and I think related to the battery not being at zero when the rang-o-meter reaches nothing but the start-up value gives you the full predicted range.

Attack of the infamous “Guess-O-Meter”! I thought Nissan had improved that for the 2014 model year…


One of the new Range Rovers was launched with a software issue or two. They are equipped with air suspension and a handful of drivers experienced the car suddenly lowering itself to ‘getting in and out’ height while driving along at speed. While not being dangerous in itself, it was somewhat disconcerting to the occupants.
Land Rover at the time suggested the owners pull over to the side of the road and then switch off the ignition. Wait a few seconds and then resume their journey…REBOOT…

These software problems are only going to get worse as technology takes over.
Which is why I like my old Land Rover. 1961, no electronics and only one fuse…

The regen breaking is non existent for the first 10 min at -17c to – 45c and the heater blows cold air around -30c. Never had brake issues and with a preheated car and heated seats and steering wheel who cares…heated floor mats would kill the chill on the floor..hint hint

First, it was LEAF issues when the car was located in hot climates. Now, it’s troubles directly related to cold climates. I like the LEAF – to be sure. Nissan hung it all out there, and I like that. There are many LEAFs in my town, county and state. Our moderate temperatures seem ideal for the car. When Nissan first introduced us to the technology of their affordable commuter EV, there was much talk of the air-cooled battery pack and electronics. Nissan explained the design was perfectly effective yet admitted it was a compromise due to cost. Nissan even told us the 2nd generation LEAF would have a thermally-controlled pack. Of late, they’ve retracted this message.

I have to say Nissan looks to be struggling to make a profit on LEAF. It becomes ever-so-evident that their battery pack and electronics need some liquid cooling and heating. To come out with a gen2 LEAF with an air-cooled system after all these negative experiences seems extremely poor planning.

James, Nissan hasn’t released a 2nd gen LEAF yet, and as far as I can tell they have not released specs on the supposed upcoming 2nd gen LEAF. If you have access to those specs, please share.

Nissan has made some incremental improvements to the battery pack, but it may be too early to know for sure how well the “lizard” pack is performing. I think that most would like to see some significant changes to the battery pack, but there are bound to be budget and design limitations that may prevent major improvements with the current platform.

Probably frozen battery, so regen is disabled until it is warmed, but the system is not applying more friction brake to compensate.

I have experienced a similar mode in my volt a few times in the extreme winter we had. When the battery is below -8C it will switch to gas mode for most propulsion energy and limit discharge/regen to/from the battery until it is warmed up.
Obviously leaf does not have that backup, so it just has to live with reduced power in and out of the battery.
But if the brakes don’t pick up the slack, you’re going to have a hard time stopping without the extra regen help.

Never had a brake problem on my 12 Leaf here in the Pittsburgh area, and it’s been below 0 F several times the past couple winters.

I think the brakes on the car are excellent, actually – the best I’ve ever had in a small car. The dual-piston design on the front calipers are quite effective.