Three? Oh, oh, oh, oh!
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Fourth Maintenance Checkup
for my Nissan Leaf

June 5, 2015

Mark D Larsen

When I started my Leaf this morning, I saw that the odometer would turn over to 30,000 in just a few more miles. While running errands, I therefore decided to stop by our local Nissan dealer to set an appointment for the corresponding maintenance checkup next week. By coincidence, the service department happened to be having such a slow day that they could fit me right in. I was in no hurry anyway, so I decided to have the checkup done on the spot. They pulled my Leaf into the service bay to get started, and after a few minutes hoisted it on the lift:

Doctor’s Office
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Operating Table
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As we all know, compared to a gasoline car, the maintenance on an EV is minimal. Here is what Nissan’s booklet for the Leaf states when crossing the 30,000 milestone:

So let it be written... so let it be done!
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Since I had just replaced the tires, I told the service technician that there was no need to rotate them. I already knew that replacing the brake fluid and in-cabin filter would take more time and thus expected the service to cost more than the previous checkup. I was actually shocked, however, when the final bill was over $204.54. Never had I paid that much before. Upon looking over the itemized breakdown, I could understand why. The labor alone totaled almost $153, then there were parts, supplies, and taxes. Moreover, there is some fine print in the maintenance booklet above that I hadn’t noticed before. The footnote states that the EV battery report is a mandatory condition of its warranty, but Nissan performs the 12- and 24-month inspections free-of-charge. This time, since I had now owned my Leaf for 38 months... the cost had to come out of my pocket. Got me!

So what did the checkup show? I asked the service technician to print copies of the various reports for me, which I have scanned and included below. You can click on any of the thumbnails to see their more legible, full-size versions.

Like in all the previous checkups, my battery earned “five stars” in all four categories. My scores are still “very high” for "Frequent use of Quick Charging” (I've never yet used my CHAdeMO port); “Frequent charging when battery state of charge is already high”; (I’ve never topped it off if already higher than 80%); “Too much electric consumption while driving” (I rarely floor it and seldom drive the Interstate); and “Long term parking with high state of charge” (it’s never sat fully charged for more than a few hours).

I had never seen this report before, and suspect that it is a new computer diagnosis that Nissan wants technicians to run on the entire Leaf system at the scheduled maintenance intervals via the OBD-II port. The routine seems to analyze the control system, the motor, the charger, the battery pack, as well as non-EV systems like the air bags and brakes. Apparently everything checked out fine on my Leaf, since no DTCs (Diagnostic Trouble Codes) were generated.

The dealer was performing an alignment check on all vehicles serviced this month, free-of-charge. In my case, since the installation of the new tires had also included an alignment, the courtesy was likely superfluous. To be honest, I have never understood exactly what such degrees are supposed to indicate, nor what their ideal settings should be, but I am glad to see that in this case the cambers appear to be symmetrical right-and-left, on both front and rear.

The visual inspection really is a checkup, in that the technician has to put literal checks on a generic graphic of a vehicle. When a component doesn’t apply, a long diagonal line is drawn through the box, as you can see above for items like differentials, belts, oil interval, exhaust system, etc. All the other parts that are on my Leaf earned checks in the green circle, indicating that they are in good shape. I was pleased that brake pads still earned 7 (rear) and 8 (front) ratings. That the tread depth received a 9 rating amuses me, since the new Michelins have less than 1,000 miles on them. I assume that the technician only gives tires a full 10 when the dealership itself installs them.

After leaving the dealership, just a few more miles down the road, my odometer in fact turned over to the targeted 30,000 miles, so I pulled over to the side of the road and took the photo below on the left. I then turned on the Mini ELM327 plugged into my Leaf’s OBD-II port and ran LEAFStat on my iPhone. As you can see in the screen dump on the right, my battery capacity was at 79.18% —less than half-a-percent above the threshold to lose my second capacity bar. It won’t be long now! It is obvious —and discouraging— that, despite earning all five stars above for meticulously caring for my battery, it has deteriorated with half the miles, and two years earlier, than Nissan had projected.

Oh... dometer
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Sad stat
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