So What Exactly DO You Have to Service On a 2011 Nissan Leaf?

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2011 Nissan Leaf

2011 Nissan Leaf

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Despite initial purchase prices higher than those for gasoline cars of equivalent performance (before incentives, anyway), electric cars undisputably cost less to run.

Not only does the grid electricity to drive a mile cost just half to one-fifth the cost of the gasoline to go the same distance, but electric cars have far fewer maintenance items.

What's missing?

A 2011 Nissan Leaf requires no:

  • oil changes
  • spark plugs
  • air filter
  • transmission fluid
  • muffler
  • radiator hoses or flushes

It has no check-engine light, and its brake pads are likely to last much longer than those in conventional cars, because they're used only in heavy braking or to bring the car to a full stop.

The rest of the time, its wheels are slowed by resistance from turning the motor-generator to regenerate electricity that's fed back into the Leaf's lithium-ion battery pack.

In fact, brake pads aside, the tires and the wiper blades are likely to be the Leaf's only major replacement parts.

2011 Nissan Leaf

2011 Nissan Leaf

Enlarge Photo

Dinging dealer profits?

But car dealers today make very little profit selling new cars. Instead, their profits come from selling used cars, and servicing cars they sell. So what happens when the Leaf removes many of the reasons owners bring their cars into dealers for nice profitable servicing?

Nissan told trade journal Automotive News that because electric car technology is so new, Leaf buyers will be far more likely to take their car to dealers for any work, rather than a third-party shop. Especially, we expect, during the car's 8-year warranty period.

2011 Nissan Leaf

2011 Nissan Leaf

Enlarge Photo

Battery pack removal

Dealers will also be capable of removing the car's battery pack from the undercarriage, to diagnose and service the 48 individual modules inside it, each of them made up of a cluster of individual lithium-ion cells.

Leaf service facilities are required to have a forklift to move the 600-pound battery pack around the shop.

What would YOU do?

So tell us this: If you were to buy a Leaf, would you have it serviced exclusively at your Nissan dealer? Or would you take it to a third-party service facility? Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.

For more 2010 Nissan Leaf information, see our Ultimate Reference Guide to Leaf stories from across the High Gear Media network.

[Automotive News (subscription required)]

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Comments (13)
  1. Well, it happens I still own a 2000 Patrol GR Diesel, it has about 260.000 KMs and it's clutch lost the pedal assistance a few weeks ago.
    I went to a Nissan service centre, here in my residence region, and they diagnosed a full Clutch replacement - cost about 3.000 Euros... I was not happy, I knew the pedal assistance should be something related to the vacuum pump that makes it work... I resolved to take my Nissan to a non-Nissan service shop so that they could make a different diagnostic.
    They found out the clutch was almost new and the problem could be actually related with the Servo-mechanism.
    So, that made me think the post-sell business is a very serious matter for the makers, I always believed the makers should stay behind their machines (they actually did, a few years ago, I had an oil leak and they solved it, no questions asked, different service shop, though...).
    I'm still happy with my machine, it hasn't let me down a single time and the proove of this, is that I'm on the list to the Leaf.
    Nissan is still a great brand for me.
    Greetings from Europe.
    Essiemme (Portugal)

  2. oopss... sorry for some bad English I just written...

  3. the reason that people dont go to dealers is that they are RIDICULOUSLY, PROHIBITIVELY EXPENSIVE.
    they charge 2 to 3 times as much for the same work. if they were 15-20% more expensive, then i think people would expect and accept that.
    but for the most part, they arent even in the same ballpark.

  4. You left out those darn smog checks we have to do every 2 years in California. I only go to a dealer for warranty work.

  5. If I purchased a Leaf or a Tesla, my first visits would be to the dealer (how many garages have a fork lift?). As the product knowledge and expertise increased, I would return to my trusted garage.

  6. While my cars are under a factory warranty, I will use the dealer. After the warranty is up, I use an independent specialist. The rates are usually about $25 cheaper per hour and the independents aren't always trying to sell you new parts you don't need (if you find the right one...)
    When I get my Leaf in December, I will take it to Nissan during the warranty period if anything needs to be looked at. The 8 year/100K mile warranty is a huge plus for the Leaf.

  7. Does that warranty cover the batteries ?
    I think they will not have 100% capability, by that mileage... It's still an impressive add-on.
    Essiemme (Portugal - Europe)

  8. The Ford Ranger EV used a trolley for the battery pack, which weighs 1500 lbs. However, you need a lift to raise the truck off the battery pack, because you can't just roll it out from under the truck. Also they have specific diagnostic tools, which will take a while to appear in 3rd party repair shops. So I imagine at least for a few years, all repairs are probably going to be exclusively at the dealer. Depending on what the warranty covers, I don't really know what the dealership would charge for, but maybe they get reimbursed from Nissan for repairs. Previously when I have purchased a new vehicle, I opt in for the full coverage warranty. Although it's been a wash money wise, the small add to the monthly payment was worth not having the shock of a several thousand dollar repair charge. However with an electric car, unless the components are crap, there really isn't a lot to worry about failing, so the full coverage warranty would be a hard sell for me.

  9. I don't think there is an eight year warranty on the Leaf, just on the batterypack and Nissan has as far as I know yet to specify how much residual capacity they actually guarantee after that period, so in fact there isn't any meaningful warranty at all on the batterypack at this point.

  10. It's quite possible for an electric motor to remain in service for 100 years or more. It appears there's going to be a battery change in about 8-10 years, and other than that there's not much to fix.

  11. Well, for me, there is plenty of electronics to fail. Let's hope not, of course!
    Essiemme (Portugal - Europe)

  12. I'm really surprised by the lack of a water based cooling system, i.e. no hoses or radiator. Lithium ion batteries run hot. How is Nissan keeping the pack cool under heavy load with no fluid, hoses, pump, etc?

  13. Doesn't the cost of the battery pack balance out the reduced maintenance from no water-based cooling? It is a long-term system; however, it will require replacement if you either keep the car, or attempt to resell it:
    * Hey! Wanna 'lectric car?
    * When did you replace the batteries?
    * Huh?
    * No thanks

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