Two Years And 42,000 km Later

42,000 km (26,250 miles) and going.

Our LEAF turned two this week. It’s been an absolutely great experience. The LEAF has been performing very well, we haven’t noticed any battery degradation and it’s still a lot of fun to drive, like day one.

Two-year service

This week I took the Leaf for its 24-month scheduled maintenance service at Hunt Club Nissan, the dealership where we took delivery two years ago. According to the maintenance guide, the service should have included replacing the brake fluid, replacing the in-cabin micro filter, rotating tires and a inspecting a long list of items. Interesting enough, absolutely nothing needed to be replaced! Tires were rotated, the battery was tested, items were inspected and that was it. Details below.

Brakes

The brake fluid still looked like new and didn’t need to be flushed. That would have been a costly service that I’m glad the Leaf didn’t need. As for the brake pads, it’s about the same story: We still have a long way to go before we need new ones. That’s one of the best things about regenerative braking. It recovers kinetic energy back into electricity without actually using the regular brakes like in regular gasoline cars. Brake pads are only called into work when the car is just about to stop, or if you brake too hard.

Brake lining after each maintenance service.

Brake lining after each maintenance service.

Brake pads are recommended to be replaced when they are 1 mm thick. They were first measured at the first 6-month service, when the Leaf had about 10,000 km. Since then, both front and rear brakes only lost 1 mm of thickness. At this rate, I estimate I’ll only need to replace them at 186,000 km (rear) and 248,000 (front). Pretty good, eh?

Cabin Air Filter

Nissan recommends changing the in-cabin microfilter every year. The dealer replaced it last year but the old filter still looked pretty clean. Besides, the replacement cost was a hefty $72. Later I realized you can purchase the filter online (for $15) and replace it yourself. That’s what I did this year but I decided to delay the replacement until after 18 months, to wait and see how dirty it gets.

Tires

The original Ecopia tires are still doing well, given that we only use them 8 months a year (we switch to winter tires during the other 4 months). The tire tread depth on all four tires have dropped from 7 mm to 5 mm (6/32″). The minimum depth recommended for summer tires is 1.6 mm (2/32″) so they still have a long way to go. At this rate, I estimate we’ll need to get new summer tires at 75,000 km.

Battery

The Battery Usage Report, which is a mandatory test required by the warranty, passed with flying colors, or five stars, in all categories (charging, driving and storage). The Leaf still has 12 bars of capacity, which is great. Any drop in capacity at this point is still not noticeable.

Cost

I’ve been keeping track of the Leaf’s performance since day one. In these two years we used 5.5 MWh ($658) of home electricity, plus some trickle charging at work, camping sites and the few public charging stations currently available in Ottawa. I estimate that driving the same 42,000 km with our second car, a Toyota Corolla, would have cost us $4,750 in gasoline, plus $250 in oil changes, plus $200 in additional insurance (yes, our insurance company has a fairly good rate on EVs). In total, we have saved $4,542 so far by driving with electricity, or almost $2,300 per year. Over ten years, which is the amount of time we intend to keep the Leaf, the total savings will probably be enough to buy another Leaf!

Reliability

So far, there were three things that had to be replaced under warranty. The parking brake actuator, the Telematics Communication Unit (TCU), and the power lock in one of the rear passenger doors. Out of the three, only the parking brake actuator needed an emergency service, although I was still able to drive the car to the dealer. The electric power train on the other hand has been working flawlessly.

Maintenance

 After two years, there were only two things I had to replace on the LEAF as part of a regular maintenance: the cabin air filter, which I already mentioned, and more recently, the two front wipers in preparation for its third Canadian winter. The dealer performed the two mandatory annual services that included software updates (no cost). I also chose to perform the optional six-month services in between, mostly because they fall right after the salt-and-sand season we call Ottawa’s winter. The scheduled services cost an average of $136 each (excluding the cabin air filter).

Carwings

What can I say about Carwings? It stopped working again last week. I called technical support, they asked me to check the configuration, like they always do, but the car completely lost two way communication with the network. Sigh…

Charging Infrastructure

Even though there are quite a few public charging stations now in the Ottawa-Gatineau region, they are all Level 2 stations which still take a long time to charge. DC Fast Chargers are still not available anywhere, not even at dealerships like in the U.S. Unfortunately Nissan Canada hasn’t done any effort to get them installed north of the border and that’s particularly frustrating. DC Fast Chargers would allow me to do trips that I can’t do today in any practical way. It would be a game changer for EV adoption but it’s not a vision shared by manufacturers in Canada (other than Tesla, who’s right now is building super chargers at the 401in Kingston).

Solar Panels Near Delta, ONIn conclusion

The Leaf is definitely the car we drive the most in the family. Our second car (my wife’s car), which we also use for longer trips, only drove 17,000 km since we first got the Leaf. In other words, the Leaf drove 2.5x as much as our gas car, showing that we only drive it when we really have to.

We love to drive the Leaf. Even my son is driving it now. That’s why it’s so frustrating to take the gas car on a longer trip that we know the Leaf could do if only the Nissan dealership along the way had DC Fast Charger.

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16 comments on “Two Years And 42,000 km Later

  1. I’m pretty sure there’s no supercharger being built in Kingston “right now.” At least I saw no evidence of it a couple of weeks ago when we were on the 401 at Kingston. it must just be planned at this point.

  2. SunCountry CS90s are the closest to fast charge here in Ontario giving about 14kw from a 208v supply (70+ km/hr on my Tesla MS40). Ev geniuses are working on an open source J1772-to-Chademo charger to upgrade Leafs to utilize this capability which would quadruple their max. charge rate. This would give up to 16kw if the CS90 is on a 240v source.

  3. Interesting… we drove Toronto to Ottawa via the 401 and I saw nothing of it… I wonder why its location isn’t published anywhere if its in progress.

  4. I’m interested in purchasing a Nissan Leaf but I’d like to know about it’s performance in cold winter temperatures. I live in Saskatchewan. Enough said.

    • Hi Jennifer. This is going to be my 3rd winter in Ottawa. Lowest temp I got was -29C. Drove to work like any other day. Range will definitely drop, not a problem if you can charge at work or somewhere else during the day. How much it will drop depends on much you use the cabin heater. Worst case for me was 80 km in one charge but it can be less if you heat the cabin like a furnace. 2013 model has a more efficient heater though, and a faster charger, so you’ll be in a better shape than my 2011. I saw you joining the Canada Owners Group on FB. People there will give you more info/advice. Good luck. Hope you get one. 🙂 Ricardo

  5. Love your Blog. We’ve had a leaf for 3 months now – purchased in Kingston. My wife drives daily to work and we use for weekend errands – perfect car for what we need. We have not seen any signs of a charger on teh 401 (but if you ever get stuck we do have one near Odessa)

  6. I have enjoyed your blog and am hoping to receive my new 2014 Leaf next week and I will definitely join the Facebook group. Thank you for all your insights.

  7. Hi, got my Leaf and love it. I am looking for the Facebook group, can somebody give me the exact name please?

  8. I live in Ottawa and I recently had an accident – written off with my Audi (not my fault) and I’m considering picking up a 2012 Leaf off-lease – my commute is 33 kms one way from Stittsville to Elgin Street along the 417 – with no opportunity for day time charging – will I be suffering from range anxiety particularly in the winter? Is it possible to put in one of the newer more efficient heaters in the car thereby extending the range and if so have you priced it out? Any help or comments really appreciated.

    • Hi Bruce. A 66 km round trip to work will be a piece of cake, 99.9% of the time. There will be an odd day where temps will stay below -20C the whole day, and the battery heaters will kick in while you’re parked outside, but even so, I simulated this “worst possible scenario” last winter and still got a 60 km total range (see my latest post). Remember there are quite a few charging stations downtown now, including a free one at City Hall, right by Elgin Street. Charging for about an hour during lunch time might be all you will need to boost your charge during that day, in those extremely clod days. There are also two charging stations at Minto Place and two near the Museum of Civilization. See plugshare.com.

      The heating system is not an upgradable option. I have used a 12V heater inside the cabin, with limited success. It’s enough to keep your feet warm or to keep the windshield from fogging, but not enough to warm up the entire cabin. There’s also mod available that allows you to keep the air flow inside the cabin without using the electric heating system. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykjgnrZTF2c

      I know one person in Ottawa who made this “upgrade” and he was pretty happy with it. I also know one Leaf owner in Stittsville that I can put you in touch with. I also live in Kanata, which is pretty close. Feel free to drop by any time.

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