5 Reasons Why You’ll Want the 2011 Nissan Leaf Software Update

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We find out what happens when our 2011 Nissan Leaf undergoes an essential software update.

We find out what happens when our 2011 Nissan Leaf undergoes an essential software update.

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Recalls, whether mandated by law or entered into voluntarily by an automaker are part of modern day car buying. 

Often car owners ignore the advice of the automaker for non-safety related recalls and updates such as the recent 2011 Nissan Leaf software update to rectify a software fault which could lead to potential start failure, choosing instead to operate on the assumption that if it isn’t broken, there’s no need to fix it.  

However, here’s five reasons why you’ll want to listen to Nissan and send your Leaf in for what we think is an essential upgrade. 

Not applying the update tempts fate

Anecdotal evidence from owners over at MyNissanLeaf.com suggests that the initial software problem which caused many Leafs to be stranded is still manifesting itself in cars which have not yet been updated. 

While we’ve heard from several owners who haven’t bothered to have their cars upgraded and say there’s no issue, we think tempting fate isn’t always the best way to go. After all, would you carry on using a gasoline car which had a similar fault which caused the engine to stop? We think not. 

2011 Nissan Leaf at dealership after software upgrade, May 2011, photo by George Parrott

2011 Nissan Leaf at dealership after software upgrade, May 2011, photo by George Parrott

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The update is free

If you’ve just spent $32,750 on your brand new Nissan Leaf then getting something for free which improves your car reliability is a no-brainer, right?  

And in our experience the update has improved car reliability. In addition to fixing the potential start failure problem, the update also applies new code to the car’s state of charge meter, improving reliability and hopefully reducing the chance you’ll get stranded.

Improved range calculations

As anyone who has driven a 2011 Nissan Leaf on a long-distance trek will tell you, the car’s on-board range calculation system isn’t the most accurate way of figuring out just how far you can go before needing a recharge. 

2011 Nissan Leaf Software Update

2011 Nissan Leaf Software Update

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Before the update, our 2011 Nissan Leaf erred on the side of youthful optimism. Even when down to our last few bars or charge, the miles-till-empty display would sometimes tell us we had as many as 20 miles left at the first low-battery warning. 

Unfortunately, as we found out on a few occasions, those final 20 indicated miles disappeared more quickly than the odometer could roll over, one of the primary reasons why early adopters did find themselves stranded after over-relying on the range estimation software. 

Post update, our car proved it could provide realistic range estimates on a 72-mile journey, allowing us to drive further than the now pessimistic range algorithm said we could. 

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Comments (5)
  1. Was wondering whether "weather" had anything to do with this article...had to read the first paragraph several times to get it!

  2. Nikki,
    Our "range estimate" is better than it was, but still blindly optimistic on morning startup. Yesterday, the range display showed 106 miles at leaving our home garage. My wife drove 59 miles and returned home with 22 miles showing and the bar display was down to the final TWO bars! We needed to go back out for dinner, and there was no way that we would then trust the Leaf to get us home with that 22 mile display estimate--we used our Volt which had 9 miles remaining of EV range; we used that all up, but then only used .04 gallons (US) of petrol for the last 1.8 miles of the drive home.
    The Volt projection at day start was 40 miles EV; yesterday I got 43.6 miles EV.

  3. So George, let me get this straight:
    The Leaf says 22 miles remaining. But that scared you, so you drove the Volt 9 miles on EV plus 1.8 miles on gas = 10.8mile trip. Your Leaf told you it had TWICE the range available for your trip out to dinner....but you took the Volt instead.
    So, um, how much "extra" juice is too much? Would you have made the same trip in your Volt if you only had .08 gallons of gas in it? After all, that's twice what you needed?
    I'm just asking where the "too much is still not enough" line-in-the-sand is set.

  4. Yes, Jim,
    In our experience the Leaf range drops in large and unpredictable deltas in the first mile or two after a stop. We do not trust the "range estimate" at all when it is under 30 miles...I have no interest in pushing it, or "flatbedding" it, and we are quite comfortable using it as our regular commuter (about 30 miles total) and on an extra errand later in the afternoon, but under 30 miles....it goes on the charger.

  5. Well all credit to Nissan for at least trying to fix the "range estimate" function in conjunction with the starting issue. I have no love for Nissan, but the thought of those brave "early adopters" (that includes you George P.) getting stranded still made me sad. I hope that this is successful.

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