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Used Nissan Leaf Review After 5 Years of Ownership

nissan leaf charging station

The Nissan Leaf may be one of the best electric cars available as a starter electric car or a local commuter. While it may not be the best looking car, the Nissan Leaf will get you from point A to point B without using fossil fuels and gets you there fast. Once of the best things about the Nissan Leaf is how little noise there is while driving which makes for a quiet and comfortable experience. After 5 years of owning a 2013 Nissan Leaf and putting it through everything I can think of, overall, its a great electric car.

Nissan Leaf Range

2010-2017 Nissan Leaf Range24 kWh84 miles / 135 km
2018-2019 Nissan Leaf Range40 kWh Battery158 miles / 252 km
2020 Nissan Leaf Range62 kWh Battery226 miles / 364 km

Electric range in older Nissan Leafs are the biggest issue when compared to modern day EVs. A Leaf from 2010-2017 is better suited for a daily commuter or driving locally. All leaf models from those years are essentially the exact same model and very little was changed until 2018 when they redesigned the Leaf. Can you do road trips in a Nissan Leaf with these models? Sure, but it does require fast charging stops at around 20-30 minutes. So you would have to factor that time into your road trips. I personally keep my “short road trips” to no further than 75 miles.

If your strongly against using fossil fuels you may find its worth doing every once and a while. If you do road trips often, it may be worth spending a little extra for an electric vehicle with longer range or to get the new Nissan Leaf. I’ve done round trips from as far as Seattle, WA to Portland Oregon and from Vancouver, BC to Pemberton, BC. The 5 years I’ve owned my Leaf I’ve driven for a total of 14,600 miles (23,500 kilometers) which isn’t that much but I generally don’t drive too often. In that time period, I have had to pay zero in gasoline costs which is a great feeling every time I drive past a gas station and maintenance costs have been very low.

Charging a Nissan Leaf

Charging a Nissan Leaf at a BC Hydro Fast Charger Station

Charging a Nissan Leaf is the same for all model years. Press the charge port button to open the charging door and connect your charging cable. It really is that simple. A great tip for Nissan Leaf owners is to use the “Auto Lock” button after plugging your car in. By pressing up on the Auto Lock button this will keep the charger locked to your car so that it can’t be removed until it’s done charging. This is really useful if your going to be away from your Leaf while it’s charging. It’s also helpful to other EV owners so that if you haven’t gotten back yet, they can unplug and use it when it’s done charging. Charging at a fast charging station will usually take 30-45 minutes if the battery is near empty.

Nissan Leaf Charge Time? (from empty)

  • 2010-2017 Nissan Leaf 24kwh: 30 Minutes on Fast Chargers / 2 Hours Level 2 Chargers / 8-10 Hours Wall Outlet
  • 2018-2019 Nissan Leaf 40kwh: 40 Minutes on Fast Chargers / 3-4 hours on Level 2 Chargers / 8 hours on Wall Outlet
  • 2020 Nissan Leaf 60kwh: 1 hour on Fast Chargers / 4-5 hours on Level 2 Chargers / 11.5 hours on Wall Outlet

Nissan Leaf Regenerative Braking

There was a story that was published where a man in Hawaii uses most the battery charge going to the top of a mountain and generates all that electricity coming back down. I experienced something similar where I had driven up the Cascade Mountains coming from George, Washington (yes, that’s an actual place). When I had reached the top of the mountain the range meter was reading nothing it was so low. I continued my decent down the mountain and by the time I had reached the bottom… I had 89 miles (143 km) of charge which is way more than what I thought the batteries could handle.

Nissan Leaf Reliability & Maintenance

Nissan Leaf battery gauge & instrument cluster

Battery Reliability: After 5+ years of ownership I have had very little (if any) battery degradation. While I have only driven 14,600 miles (23,500 kilometers) over this time period, the battery is still holding up very well. According to the dashboard gauges there are 11 bars of the 12 bars left on the battery meter which measures the “battery life” (vertical meter on far right). The battery warranty on Nissan Leafs are good up to 8 years or 100,000 miles and many older Nissan Leaf batteries don’t even start to see battery degradation until 60k to 70k miles. I have done many fast charges (sometimes multiples a day) with most charging done by level 2 plugs and there hasn’t been any changes in the battery reliability so far.

In regards to any Nissan Leaf maintenance repairs, all that has been done was a rotation of the tires. This was the one time I brought it in to have it looked at and the Nissan dealer had said the car is fine. And all they did was rotate the tires. Since then I have had zero maintenance issues and no need to bring the car in.

The one thing that had to be replaced on my Nissan Leaf in 5 years is something that’s also found in fossil fuel cars… the 12 volt battery.

Jacob Haust

The auxiliary battery in 2020 finally had to be replaced. This powers everything but the electric motor and oddly it’s also required for the vehicle to start. The cool thing about the auxiliary battery is it’s charged with a small solar panel on the roof. Total cost of the battery replacement: $130 CAD. If we’re accounting for everything, I also ran out of windshield washer fluid. So my total cost of maintenance over 5 years is $135 CAD ($96 USD).

Practically zero maintenance is one of the biggest benefits of electric vehicles. When you take into account the amount of things that can break on a combustion engine, then the cost to fix all of things that can break combined with the amount of fossil fuel required for the vehicle to operate, electric vehicles are way less expensive to own. As to where an electric vehicle has one moving part on the motor, doesn’t use gas and you may have to pump up the tires or replace the windshield washer fluid when they get low.

Nissan Leaf Winter Reliability

When I had purchased my 2013 Nissan Leaf it had come with all season tires that are rated fairly well for winter. One of the best things about electric cars is actually the weight, which would seem counter intuitive. The battery weight actually allows electric cars to drive very well in winter. Since the batteries are usually positioned low in the vehicle it creates a low center of gravity which gives electric cars better performance year round.

Even in extreme cold in Canada, there has been very little change in the battery performance. Range difference is noticeable when it’s very cold outside dropping 10-20%. But once the battery warms up and I use the seat heaters instead of hot air which helps improve the range. If you have an indoor heated garage this will help prevent some of that. Its alos worth mentioning that charging the vehicle indoors in winter will give you a much better charge rate since the battery is warmer. The Nissan Leaf does amazingly well since it’s a front wheel drive car and the motor sits on top of the front axle providing better traction in the snow and ice.

Used Nissan Leafs in the Pacific Northwest

used nissan leaf pacific northwest
Nissan Leaf in Vancouver British Columbia Canada

The most difficult trip to do was from Seattle, WA to Portland Oregon. This required charging 4 times each way which added 4 extra hours to the round trip. In an older model electric vehicle with 80 miles (129 km) of range this isn’t ideal. With modern electric vehicles like a 2020 Nissan Leaf its easy to do this trip with only 1 charge to get there. This is the difference that 5 years of EV development can do. For road trips, I would recommend the newer 2020 Nissan Leaf model which will make for a more relaxing experience knowing you’ll reach your destination and save a lot of time in the process. If you end up getting a used Nissan Leaf, be sure to check the battery meter and make sure it has 11 or 12 battery bars. This indicates the battery is still in great condition.

If you live in the Pacific Northwest and are looking for a budget EV, a used Nissan Leaf is ideal. Especially if you live in places like Portland or Seattle. Both cities have an incredible amount of EV chargers. Over 200+ EV chargers (not including Tesla charging locations) throughout the Portland area with over 1600+ EV charging stations across the state. Seattle alone has over 250 chargers available.

If you live in a large city, electric vehicles like used Nissan Leafs are ideal. If it’s “stop and go” traffic that you mostly drive in 90%+ of the time, you’ll actually generate more electricity than the Nissan Leaf uses. I experienced this driving around downtown Seattle where I spent the day in the city and left with 10 more miles of charge than I arrived with. This is the beauty of regenerative braking in electric vehicles. Something else that fossil fuel cars will never be able to compete with.

Buying a Used Nissan Leaf

If you search for “Nissan Dealership” and select a dealership close to you, you might be surprised at how many Leafs are available for sale. There are many used Nissan Leafs available across the United States and Canada. For example, Campbell Nelson Nissan in Edmonds, WA has over 65 used Nissan Leafs for sale (at the time of this publication). This is where I bought the Leaf I’ve owned. It turns out many of the Nissan Leafs that come off lease end up here at the Nissan Edmonds, WA location to be sold for the very first time. So if you’d like to get a 1 owner Nissan Leaf in Washington State, this would be the place to go. Some are as low as $9k and and most average between $14k-$19k with low mileage. Tell them Jacob sent you. They might give you a deal on a used Nissan Leaf and it does help me out a little bit.

2020 Nissan Leaf Price?

$32,000 – $42,000 USD

Used Nissan Leaf Price?

$5,000 – $29,000 USD

If 60 Nissan Leafs are sold, that prevents 522+ gallons of gasoline per car/per year from being burned (based on a gasoline fueled car of identical size). Calculations were made with a gasoline car of the same size (newer VW Golf) which gets and average of 29 mpg, 13.2 gallon fuel tank, an average fuel cost of $950/yr, $24 to fill the tank and using the average driving range of 15k miles a year. That works out to 31,350+ gallons of gasoline not being burned per year for every 60 Nissan Leafs that are on the road. What I’ve spent on maintenance and charging costs on a Nissan Leaf over the course of 5 years… a gasoline car of the same size would use in only a few months. This is the cost comparison of EV ownership from a first hand perceptive with half a decade of experience. Owning an electric vehicle saves you a lot in both fuel costs and maintenance costs.

Overall, a Nissan Leaf is very reliable EV. Total cost of maintenance over 5 years was $135 CAD ($96 USD) and the total cost of ownership (which would include the very little I’ve had to pay for charging over the past 5 years) would ad up to maybe a few hundred in total. The only complaint I have after reviewing the 2013 Nissan Leaf (aside from the appearance) is the range of only 84 miles/135 kilometers. Which for city driving is all you would ever need. For the new 62kWh 2020 Nissan Leaf the range was greatly improved with 226 miles of range which for most people is plenty. So if you only require an electric vehicle for getting around the city, an older Nissan Leaf may be one of the best electric vehicles on a budget.


Jacob Haust

With a passion for design, electric vehicles, engineering and the environment, Jacob is combining his interests to help make the world a more sustainable place for generations to come.

jacob haust


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