Steve Marsh’s 2011 Nissan LEAF Loses Fifth Battery Capacity Bar At 141,000 Miles

AUG 18 2015 BY MARK KANE 55

Nissan LEAF Owner Turns 100,000 Gas-Free Commuting Miles

Nissan LEAF Owner Turns 100,000 Gas-Free Commuting Miles

Steve Marsh published an update on his 2011 Nissan LEAF in Washington state, which in late 2013 became the first U.S. LEAF to cross 100,000 miles.

As of July 27, 2015, the odometer stood at 141,000 miles, with 5 battery capacity bars lost (7/12 bars is less than 60% capacity) and 160 GID at full charge.

This is probably still the highest mileage LEAF in the US, though because of its fading range, Steve needs to charge midway to his job, charge to full at his job, and then return home while stopping again midway for a charge.

This is the reason why he switched to a new 2014 LEAF and is using the older 2011 in less demanding summer time (no heat needed) situations.

Here is an update and answers to some questions posted on MyNissanLEAF forum by Steve:

“Down 5 bars at 141,000 miles

It has been some time since I’ve posted an update.My mileage rate/month has dropped as I’m splitting my driving across another LEAF. Today was a perfect example – rather suddenly this morning, I realized I didn’t plug in the ’11 last night. So I plugged in the ’14 and because of the faster charger in the newer models, I was able to head out after a much shorter charge time and make it to work without stopping.As we go along, things seem to be getting better and better in the world of Nissan EV. If the purported higher capacity battery packs are interchangeable, Nissan has followed through on everything I hoped for when I started this journey more than 4 years ago. The multiple model levels introduced in the last couple of years have made the car more attractive to me.I am currently charging midway at least once each direction of my commute. The recent GID drop supports my impression that it is getting harder to go this distance. There will come a time when I say enough is enough and I don’t want to try and make the old battery continue to work for this commute. I anticipate that to be somewhere around 150,000 miles. It will continue to be a great errand runner.I have noticed that when put in ECO mode, the REGEN is now next to nothing and no longer slows the car significantly.Everything about the car has been terrific – brakes are still on their first set, Tires are on second set with lots of tread left. Still no need for a wheel alignment and holds straight. No other mechanical issues beyond the power window switch a couple of years ago. Is there any other car model out there that can go this kind of distance with such little maintenance?Thanks again for everyone’s support and encouragement. Steve”

“Hi All – yes, I am driving the 2011 as much as possible to keep the miles off the 2014. When I bought the car, my plan was to save as much as I spent. That doesn’t look feasible without replacing the battery and going another 150,000 and even then it would be close. No matter how many miles I put on it, the KBB value isn’t likely to fall much further now. I am being stubborn, sometimes spending an extra hour going each way. I would like to get to 150,000 miles before the colder, wetter weather arrives.

I am hopeful the new 30Kwh will fit in the 2011. In the Arizona meeting a couple of years ago, there was a discussion about different battery capacities. Most agreed that it would be wise to stick to one flavor. Mr. Palmer is gone now so I don’t know if that will mean anything. Going to 30kwh will allow me more miles before I reach this battery capacity.

On the lack of regen, I wonder if it is related to the strongly pulsating brakes when battery is LBW or below and brakes are applied lightly. This may become a safety issue that could result in a mandatory fix? Would that have to be a new battery? Idle speculation.

Just trying to hang in there until new batteries are “announced” and there is clarity on replacement option.”

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55 Comments on "Steve Marsh’s 2011 Nissan LEAF Loses Fifth Battery Capacity Bar At 141,000 Miles"

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Steve asks “Is there any other car model out there that can go this kind of distance with such little maintenance?”

Yes, read here. 250K miles

“Volt is holding up flawlessly! No noticeable battery capacity loss. Used 9.7 kw because it’s a 2012. I am so pleased with this vehicle!”

“The Volt was always my dream car! To get to drive it everyday is a dream come true! This car is Wonderfully engineered!”

i was just thinking…wonder how the Volt holds up….and boom! here it is. And to think the 2016 Volt is even better….

I think one could argue that the Volt is the best vehicle Chevy has produced since the 57′ Chebby.

“…with such little maintenance?”

How many oil changes would a volt need?

Once every 2 years

So 2 for a 2011 Volt. Almost trivial, but more than the zero that his Leaf required.

Doesn’t a Leaf require brake system flushing every year or 12,000 miles? If so , how did this guy do it without doing a relatively expensive brake flush?

I know sometimes people like to exaggerate the advantages of their vehicles, and leave off the more unflattering parts of the story..

Anyway I just wondered what is it about the LEAF that requires so much brake maintenance on brakes that are not greatly taxed to begin with?

I wondered that too, Bill, when I took my 2014 Leaf in for the 15,000 maintenance. They told me that the brake flush was important. But why would it be more important than in an ICE car?

If you lease your Leaf can you put any brand of tire on it?

Maintenance schedules for other Nissan’s also include brake flushes as well now.

? LOL.

140 000 miles drived require A LOT oil changes.

Those are mandated by MILEAGE not by years.

Forget about that and will surely meet car mechanic about broken engine 😛

PS Can Volt go on pure EV if ICE is busted ?

Some of your statements are not entirely correct. For instance you should use a qualifier in your miles driven to engine running time. If you drive 100k miles and 50k is on battery then the gasoline engine ran for 50k of the total number of miles.
That would be 10 changes of oil, under a strict regimen of oil changes. Once every 5k miles. In the case of the Volt there is an OLM, oil light monitor, which tells you when to change oil. 2 years without changing oil under normal driving conditions is the manufacturer’s claim and this has been borne out in the real world.

I do agree though that the potential cost, if something breaks down on the Volt, would be more.

The answer to you last question is yes, as long as there is battery power.
I would refrain from using words like busted. Why not simply ask, if the Volt is out of gas can it still run?

Premo_li wrote:

“140 000 miles drived require A LOT oil changes.”

Not necessarily. With the engine is mostly in ideal load condition, the oil can easily last 10K miles. My Volt oil life meter still shows 80% life after about 8K miles on the ICE.

“Forget about that and will surely meet car mechanic about broken engine ”

Engine wears are heavily depending on the load characterisitic. With a strong EV motor and large battery to buffer, the wear and tear of the ICE is at its most optimium point.

“PS Can Volt go on pure EV if ICE is busted ?”

Absolutely! In fact, I have even driven the car when the gas tank is empty.

Voltect transmission doesn’t require the ICE at all. A seperate clutch will completely bypass the engine power if it is down.

In fact, when ICE is no longer available, the car will present a warning but fully drivable as long as there are enough battery power left.

“In fact, I have even driven the car when the gas tank is empty.”

Be careful, if the gas engine tries to run with no gas in the tank you will eventually burn out your fuel pump, which is designed to cool itself with gasoline. Someone on here drove without gas to avoid burning gas in maintenance mode or to prevent burning any gas on frigid days, and ended up burning out his fuel pump because it kept running dry with no gas in the tank to cool it. You could probably pull the fuse to the fuel pump to manually turn it off when driving without any gas in the tank.

you are right.

I wouldn’t recommend that as “normal operation”. But it is simple to illustrate the point that gas engine is NOT required to operate.

In addition, I would think the fuel pump would shut off if there is no igniton. Or that would be the smart design…

Yeah, I’m the guy who burned out his fuel pump. For all the good things I say about the volt, i do harp on several negatives. But I’ve learned not to ever run out of gasoline.

The volt’s design is very ‘buggy’ but its deficient on things that you can live with if you operate the thing normally.

And that includes plugging the car in (even 110 @ 8 amps is good enough), in extreme heat or extreme cold.

Mileage on the ENGINE not total driving miles.

Assuming 80% electric and 20% ICE that’s 28,000 mile son ICE. But then it’s not running all the time so say 50% duty cycle is 14,000 miles. Say 5,000 miles between oil changes still only 3 changes in 4 years.

An oil change is trivial anyway. I used to change mine back in my salad days, but with Jiffy Lube it’s like $30, chump change.
Other maintenance though could be much more expensive, but since the engine is not on all the time wear on parts takes longer, breakdowns are less frequent.

I dumped my 2011 LEAF after losing 3 capacity bars. My Model S put to rest a growing range anxiety and I haven’t had to be a “charging whore” since….

Tom, that’s offensive to the rest of us EV motorists who haven’t got the range of a Tesla nor the budget for one.

I’m not rich but I managed to afford a Tesla. It’s your choice to be offended……..

Well I can’t argue against that flawless logic, guess I’ll remain the charging whore that I am.

Lol! But still better than being a Volt-grassturfer desperately promoting old technology…

I have neither the range nor the budget for a Tesla either. However, I hardly find it offensive when Tom refers to his former self as a “charging whore”.

Actually, according to the INL study, Volt owners charge more often than LEAF owners on average due to is smaller battery.

So, the biggest charging whore is Volt.

As a Volt owner, I am NOT offended at all by that label.


As a charging pimp, I find your comment offensive.

There seems to be a consensus that Nissan improved the battery pack between MY 2012 and 2013, even though Nissan announced no upgrade. Apparently the battery capacity on the later model years hold up better over time. It would be interesting to read of a comparison between MY 2011-2 Leafs and MY 2013-4 Leafs reaching 100,000 miles. But of course, at this point there isn’t enough data to be statistically meaningful.

2012 Leaf with 30,923 miles lost 3 bars, one per summer. And I’m on my second set of ecopia tires…I think it’s the hotter climate that degrades range and increases tire wear, I’m in central Florida.

I have a 2013 Leaf (S trim) on the east coast of Florida. It’s a little cooler here than Central Florida. I’ve done about 20K miles and lost 1 bar of capacity (which happened around 15k miles).

I put 86 318 kilometers (53 283 miles for murican) on my 2012 SV Leaf and still have all the bar.
SpyLeaf is rating the SOC at 86% so I guess one is close to disappear.
Second set of Ecopia with 2 winters (very cold) and about24 000 Km on snow tire.
Same brake pad and a front shock leaking and need to be replace because of very hard hitting.
One power window switch have been replace and one Nissan mandatory brake fluid replacement every 24 000 kilometers.
I skip the last one because I’m doubtful of this being necessary at all.

2012 leaf lost first bar at 41,000. Joked about it at the dealership when I had a Battery check at 39,000. Should be noted I have charged on 110v the entire life of the car. 540v less than 10 times 240v less than 50 times. It is NY with below 0 winters no garage.

I think Nissan should just give him another battery for the effort he has put into driving it.

They could possibly do a battery swap for him, for the price of the Battery with Core Exchange, and maybe just credit him with the price, as a ‘Thank you’ for being the first to 150,000 Miles!

Not so unlike – Toyota did for the Taxi Driver in Vancouver, BC with the 1st Gen Prius that had so many miles on it [~500,000 Kms] – but in his case I understand they offered him a whole new 2004 Prius! (Maybe Nissan could give Steve a whole new 2016 with the 30 kWh battery in exchange for his 2011 (so they could really see what the mileage does to it!)

My 2012 Leaf has 31000 miles and has lost 1 bar. I live in N Fla. That small loss of capacity makes a difference. I think 100+ range is perfect for metro driving and 175+ range for regional driving. I will get a 2017 Leaf, Bolt, or Tesla gen 3.

The question is why did he buy a whole new car? Why didn’t he just replace the pack in the first one? I am hoping to drive my leaf as many thousand miles as I can but I expect to have to change the battery at about 100k, hopefully with a 30 kWh or bigger pack if it is compatable.

Just_Chris, I believe based on the comments that he purchased a newer leaf because of the 2011 has a slow 3.6 charge vs the new leaf with a 6.8 charge rate. Secondly, it would also lead me to believe that his did NOT have Chademo either. I am with you, just sell the 2011 or trade it in for a newer technology. Why keep both…

Because it’s the first LEAF to 100,000 and may be the most driven LEAF for quite some time to come…
Why do people buy classic cars?
Why do people buy the same ugly car they had as a teenager?
Sometimes it’s more than money or logic that drives us 🙂
Also lets not forget being it’s owner gives him a small piece of celebrity status in certain circles!

I would say he should swap it to the 30kWh one, but if he already bought a 2014 model too, then I think he is just going to use that one when he needs more range than whats left on the 2011.

One of my co-workers drives in from a more rural part of the region in his Leaf and has to charge it every day to make it home. I wonder if he has lost a lot of capacity driving in the desert heat. He is someone who I can imagine will swap up to the 30kWh battery ASAP.

Tires on his second set? The tires on our Leafs haven’t lasted more than about 20,000 miles.

Only 20k miles per tire set? Is this normal for a Leaf?

How about a Volt?

Almost 50K miles on my Volt with factory tires.

They are okay. But I would upgrade to Michelin once those are done…

That’s not bad. Most modern tires *should* get you 50-60k miles. The stock tires on the Leaf are a notable exception – they are absolutely horrible! Mine didn’t even make it to 20k miles, and if you read through, you’ll see I’m not alone.

I would never call buying a Michelin tire an upgrade. I’d rather buy three sets of cheap tires than one set of Michelins.

They’re quiet nice riding tires but every Michelin tire I’ve ever had has started to show sidewall dry rot checking before the second year. I usually get 6 to 8 years out of tires so obviously that’s too soon. I really like the idea of a 90000 mile tread life, but what’s the point if the sidewalls crack?

Even if that isn’t dangerous, they should not deteriorate that quickly.

Your choice, but Michelin as alway exceed our expectation and my experience is very good with them.
So much that it’s the first brand I choose when model are available.

40k miles for my Volt.

60% capacity after 140,000 miles is just terrible. 48 miles on a good day is only 29 miles on a cold day. These first gen Leafs will haunt the reputation of EVs for decades to come, like the diesel Oldsmobiles of the early 1980s did for diesels. Nissan really did a disservice to the EV movement when they decided to save a few hundred bucks on battery maintenance. Sorry to offend, I know this won’t be a popular comment, but hopefully Nissan learns their lesson and makes the gen2 a lot longer lasting.

+100 John, I couldn’t have said it better.

Now, if the Lizard battery has cured all the Leaf’s ills, then why hasn’t Nissan made that crystal clear to everyone?
Oh, that’s right…. Nissan claims there never was a battery problem. It took a class action lawsuit for them to face it.

Meanwhile, when Tesla owners heard a strange noise in the drive train, they got a completely new one. No hemming, no hawing, and no denial of problem.

Nissan proves beyond all doubt how much demand there is for EVs – people even bought theirs, knowing how lame it was, because in most of the country, there wasn’t anything else to buy in that price range.

Nissan had better bring their A game in 2017.

“Nissan proves beyond all doubt how much demand there is for EVs – people even bought theirs, knowing how lame it was, because in most of the country, there wasn’t anything else to buy in that price range.”

Hey now. I resemble that comment 😉

I do wish I could afford / have had access to a better EV back in 2012, but a Leaf was a better fit for me than a Volt. In 2018, when I’m ready for my next EV, Nissan won’t have the market cornered. They will have to win my business based on merit.

Lizard battery didn’t come around until late 2014 for 2015 model Leafs. It won’t be until the 2nd or 3rd summer for the first model year that we have solid degradation data and know how many cars lost a bar or not.

Or in other words, we don’t KNOW that the 2015 battery packs work any better in heat. We won’t know for another couple of years.

John Hansen said:

“Nissan really did a disservice to the EV movement when they decided to save a few hundred bucks on battery maintenance. Sorry to offend, I know this won’t be a popular comment…”

Well, it may not be a popular comment with Leaf owners, but I suspect a lot of EV enthusiasts would, like me, agree with you.

I am shocked how fast the 3 additional bar are lost.

I remember that when Steve Marsh’s LEAF crossed 100K miles, it only lost 2 bars. Now 41K miles later, it lost 3 more bars?

That is an acceleration in capacity loss, NOT flattening out as others have predicated.
That is one of the BEST climate for an EV as well.

This doesn’t look good for Nissan.

Looks like Steve’s battery is dying, which he realizes since he’s expressed doubt as to whether he’ll get to an actual 150,000 miles when he’s almost there already anyway. I keep remembering when the VOlt came out, the designers of the Leaf battery called the Volt ‘hopelessly overdesigned’, ‘too heavy’ and ‘too underutilized’. Well, subsequent years have opened up the battery cycles a bit with more miles per charge, but I have yet to hear ANY one ANYWHERE who has lost battery range in ANY Volt. I bet GM’s conservative philosophy burnishes their reputation. Maybe its too much to hope for to get other car companies (even Tesla) to make low-priced EV’s that families would buy if the vehicles were available. Like many others, I wish GM would at least test the waters a bit by putting a plug on a somewhat larger vehicle. There’s the option for the CT6, but its probably going to be pricey. How about doing a 4 cylinder PHEV for the Chevy Impala? Or are they afraid about cutting the market for the upcoming Caddy CT6? I know GM’s large SUV’s and Large trucks have such a huge markup on them that they are in… Read more »
Nissan should take a leaf out of Zero’s book and offer an ‘early adopter discount’ on a 30kwh replacement battery pack. The discount could be proportional to the capacity loss. Nissan should recognize the cost as research & development and take it out of its R&D budget. A problem for owners of old generation Leaf BEVs (& Prius hybrids) is that they cannot simply replace the old battery pack with the latest one, because the electronics need to be upgraded to match. Hence Nissan should also offer early adopters an attractive discount on a new Leaf. That would help Nissan limit the damage to their reputation which would otherwise reduce car sales. Nissan could then work out their best option for dealing with the early version of the Leaf. They have several business options to consider. For example, one of the key benefits of EVs is that they have a very long potential life span due to having few wearing parts. So one option is to return the early Leaf cars to the factory to be refurbished. Would it be cost-effective to update the old versions in a batch down the production line? What would you refurbish? Maybe new tyres… Read more »

If you want to talk about what they should have done take a look at “hobbyguy” in Caistic – Santa Clara, CA who lost his 4th bar at 62,000 miles and 33 months and they told him tough luck. Instead of telling him to pound sand they should have given him a battery pack for the cost of labor and adapter only if they didn’t want to do it completely free.

oh, and I forgot to mention “hobbyguy” lost the 6th bar at 69,000 miles and 51 months.

and a correction Caistic is in Santa Clarita, CA not Santa Clara.

Chip said: “A problem for owners of old generation Leaf BEVs (& Prius hybrids) is that they cannot simply replace the old battery pack with the latest one, because the electronics need to be upgraded to match.”

Really? A simple software change would take care of it. Just because the chemistry of the battery might be a little different doesn’t mean the whole pack has to be designed to be outside the wide voltage range of the electronics which interact with it.