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From its introduction in late 2010 until 2019, when it was finally surpassed by the Tesla Model 3, Nissan Leaf proudly stood as the world’s best-selling electric car.
Unlike the more conventional Nissan Leaf issues, this time we’ll focus on Nissan Leaf charging problems which aren’t common but aren’t unheard of either. There are a few instances where the Nissan Leaf will exhibit unusual charging habits or fail to recharge the battery altogether.
Whether due to the car or charger malfunction or simply down to human error, you’ll find the most common issues further below.
Nissan Leaf charging problem due to battery thermal management solution
The most common Nissan Leaf charging problem is associated with Nissan’s battery thermal management solution or the lack of an advanced one thereof. While modern, more expensive EV’s use some sort of liquid-cooling solutions to keep their batteries cool and maximize their performance, Nissan has opted for a more cost-effective air-cooling system.
Although this helps keep the Leaf’s price low, it also leads to potential charging issues.
Every battery has a lifespan that’s dependent on several different factors, the most important of which is arguably the aforementioned battery thermal management system. Simply put; without efficient cooling, an EV battery will overheat, which, in turn, will degrade its capacity and reduce its lifespan.
Since Nissan Leaf relies on inexpensive and not overly efficient air cooling, its battery pack will heat more than the battery of a comparable Tesla or almost any other more expensive EV leading to earlier range degradation.
Rapid charging at public charging station (DC Level 3) heats the battery more than conventional Level 1 or Level 2 onboard charging or even driving. With that in mind, it has to be noted that the Leaf wasn’t designed for long-distance travel but for daily commute. Long trips between fast-charging stations don’t give the battery enough time to cool down, which leads to potential charging problems. You can also try a home charger to see if it solves the problem.
The 2018 onwards second-generation Nissan Leaf owners have found out that their rapid charging will be considerably slower than it’s supposed to be if a fast charger has already been used during the day.
This Nissan Leaf charging problem is actually a safeguard implemented to prolong the second-gen models’ battery life. In such a case, the car’s electronic management software will essentially reduce the maximum charging speed to prevent battery overheating.
This particular solution was implemented due to sub-optimal experience with the first-gen models. Although these early Leafs didn’t have the large battery packs of their successors, the overheating was still an issue.
Furthermore, without the aforementioned safeguard, their batteries were known to downgrade in as little as one year into ownership or less.
If you’re experiencing this particular issue with your Nissan Leaf, know that – while annoying – the solution is here to prolong your battery life. Repeated fast charging sessions in a short period simply weren’t intended for the Nissan Leaf and its basic battery thermal management system.
Other Nissan Leaf charging problems
Aside from charging issues related to the battery thermal management system, the Nissan Leaf has been known to exhibit other charging problems. Below are some of the most common ones.
Certain chargers don’t work with the Leaf
There’s a documented issue where certain charging points won’t work with the Nissan Leaf even though there’s nothing wrong with the car. For instance, ChargePoint chargers have been known to exhibit this particular behavior.
You’ll be pleased to know that neither the charger nor the car itself is faulty. It’s the car’s software. The simplest solution is to take the car to the dealer or other certified mechanic and get its charging software updated. The car should charge fine on any public charger after that.
The car doesn’t charge at the maximum available rate
This is a fairly common occurrence and not a charging problem at all. Achieving the maximum charging rate claimed by the manufacturer is practically impossible due to several different factors such as battery temperature and its state of health, external conditions, the state of the charger itself, etc.
In short, any single one of these factors (or any combination of them) can have a detrimental effect on the charging rate your car will achieve at any particular charging point in any particular scenario.
CHAdeMO port is working, but the J1772 port doesn’t
There’s a peculiar scenario where the Level 1 and Level 2 charging port (the right one) in Nissan Leaf fails to initiate the charging, but the Level 3 charging port (the left one) is working perfectly fine. The culprit is the faulty onboard charger, but the good news is it doesn’t need a replacement unit.
There’s a simple repair solution that’s extremely cost-effective compared to an onboard charger replacement. It still requires the onboard charger disassembly which is a job best left to a professional. A certified mechanic shouldn’t have any issues replacing a faulty diode on the onboard charger’s circuit board.
Nissan Leaf “Ready” light flashing but the car isn’t charging
If a car fails to initialize charging despite the “Ready” green light on the original EVSE charging cable blinking, then your power outlet probably isn’t grounded.
Using a different power outlet should do the trick, provided that one’s grounded. If the “Fault” red light is blinking simultaneously with the green light, then you might be having a faulty cable.
Troubleshooting of user-related Nissan Leaf charging problems
As it’s often the case, some charging problems with Nissan Leaf are actually user-related and easily avoidable.
You’ll know that Leaf is charging if the three dot-lights on the dash are lighting up in order from left to right. If all of them are flashing at the same time, your Nissan Leaf has a charging problem. Troubleshooting of the most common potential Nissan Leaf charging issues that stem from human error can be found below.
Get acquainted with the owner’s manual
Understanding your vehicle is key in assuring its smooth operation, and the amount of information the owner’s manual provides is priceless – especially if you’re new to electric vehicle ownership
Check your auxiliary 12 V battery
Much like their ICE (internal-combustion engine) counterparts, electric vehicles too come with a conventional 12-volt battery. This unit is responsible for powering up headlights, windshield wipers, power locks, etc.
Most importantly, however, it powers the electronics that send a signal to begin charging. With an empty 12-volt battery, your car won’t be able to charge the main lithium-ion battery pack.
Check for software updates
As demonstrated in the example above, software updates can play an important role when it comes to charging your vehicle. It’s best to have the latest software update installed just in case.
Dash lights are lighting in sequence and then turn off
If your Leaf’s dash lights are illuminating one after another and then turn off altogether after around 5 minutes, this means that your charging timer is turned on. Setting the charging timer on will prevent your car from charging outside of the hours instructed in the timer settings.
To override the charge timer and charge the car immediately, you only need to press the charge timer override button on your dashboard with the cable connected.
The charge timer button is the second from the left in the upper row in the picture below.
Dash lights flashing and beep sounds
This particular pattern indicates a charging problem that’s most likely connected to the charging cable or a charge connector lock switch button.
The cable release mechanism may have gotten bent somehow, tricking your car into thinking that you’re holding the release button down. This is a mechanical issue that a certified mechanic should fix without much trouble.
Understand the State of Health of your car’s battery
Nissan Leaf’s battery SOH is conveniently displayed on the dashboard in the form of bars. The full 12 bars indicate a healthy battery, but over time, your Nissan Leaf will inevitably start losing its battery capacity.
Once the dreaded bar graph drops to only 7 bars or lower, the conventional charger might not be enough to recharge your Leaf. A battery in this state of degradation might require a current higher than 8 amps that the plug-in charger provides.
Don’t underestimate the importance of preventive maintenance
Nissan Leaf is still one of the most popular EV’s around despite its advancing years and diminishing appeal. The quirky compact car is a perfect companion for a city commute – especially if you have an access to overnight charging.
There have been a few issues with the Nissan Leaf charging over the years, but none of them was part of a major recall. The most notable Nissan Leaf charging problem is probably the car’s passive air battery pack cooling.
With such a cost-effective solution in place, the car doesn’t get the opportunity to cool down the battery pack between consecutive rapid charges, which leads to trickle charging speeds on each successive charge without a proper cool down.
Other than this somewhat annoying safety and battery-saving measure, the Leaf is, more or less, a good, hassle-free option for anyone willing to join the EV revolution.