(Click to enlarge)
|First Maintenance Checkup
for my Nissan Leaf
February 12, 2013
Mark D Larsen
The maintenance schedule for my Nissan Leaf states that the first checkup is due at 6 months or 7,500 miles, whichever comes first. Last October I had reached the 6 month threshold, and therefore made an appointment with my local dealer for the checkup. However, when the service technicians saw that I only had a little over 5,000 miles on the odometer, they suggested that I wait until it hit 7,500. After all, the only real service they perform for a Leaf at his stage depends upon the miles driven —not the age of the vehicle. It makes sense: there is no oil to change, no carburetor, no spark plugs, no transmission, no muffler. Other than rotating the tires and visually inspecting the wiper blades, brakes, lights, struts, and axle boots... there is no maintenance to perform! Another benefit of driving an electric vehicle.
This past week, I noticed that my odometer was only a few miles short of the 7,500 threshold, as shown in the photo above, so I made another appointment for the first checkup. Rotating the tires and the visual inspection took about 10 minutes, for the minimal charge of... $19.95, plus tax. That was it: the entire cost. Can’t beat that!
Since my Leaf will hit its one-year anniversary at the end of next month, the mechanics then suggested that I might as well also have them perform the battery analysis covered for free under warranty. Gladly! I had wanted that service performed ever since the capacity loss kerfuffle last fall. That took another 20 minutes to connect my Leaf to the computer and run the checkup.
Below is the printout of the results. As you can see, my Leaf received all five stars for the relevant factors that can affect the battery pack:
- Frequent Quick Charging. I have never quick charged my Leaf, let alone “frequently,” as there are no QuickCharge stations anywhere near me.
- Frequent Topping Up. I have never even plugged in my Leaf when the pack was already charged to more than 80%. The vast majority of my charging is at night, to the recommended 80% for battery longevity. Thinking back, I believe that I have only charged to 100% about a dozen times at most: my trips to Zion and Kolob Canyons, my Plug-In Day odyssey to Las Vegas, my test runs to Veyo, and to visit my sister in Mesquite.
- Pedal to the Metal. I would imagine that this factor has to do with very high speed driving, which can gobble up the electrons very quickly and “cook” the battery pack. I have only driven my Leaf at freeway speeds a few times, such as for the odyssey and driving to the St. George airport, and in all such instances I have kept my speed at legal limits. The overwhelming majority of my driving is around town, with speed limits rarely above 40 mph. This is obviously why my 5.5 miles-per-kWh average to date is so much higher than the EPA official rating of 2.94. And only once have I seen the temperature gauge display 7 bars, while on the odyssey in Las Vegas, even though last summer we experienced 47 days of triple-digit temperatures in this hot desert climate.
- Fully Charged, with No Where to Go. As I indicated above, I only charge to 100% on the rare occasion that I anticipate needing the Leaf’s full range. I have never let it sit for days on end fully charged. The longest that it has sat idle in the garage was for about 10 days, while we were visiting the in-laws in Sacramento during the Christmas holidays. When we left, I took the recommended precautions. The pack was charged to 80%, and I unplugged it from its EVSE so that it would not unnecessarily try to charge every night on the timer. The operating manual states that, when the vehicle is not in use, the pack will automatically charge the 12V battery “for 5 minutes every 5 days.” To minimize using the pack’s electrons for this, I also attached a trickle charger to the 12V battery. When we returned, the pack’s charge had dropped to about 76%, and the 12V battery was fully charged. This tells me that, under the same circumstances, my Leaf could sit idle and unplugged for at least 6 months without “bricking” the battery pack —even though the manual recommends not letting the vehicle sit without charging for more than 3 months.
Looking good! We’ll see how the next checkup goes at 15,000 miles, when the maintenance will also include... replacing the cabin’s air filter. Oh, my... Ohm My!