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