Owning an EV is a great life choice. The Nissan Leaf has been on the market since 2010. But if your Leaf won’t charge, then it’s suddenly not a great life choice. There’s always a reason your car won’t charge and always a solution.
Common reasons your Nissan Leaf won’t charge include:
- No power going to your Leaf
- Charging timer on
- Cable problems
- Battery too hot
- 12V battery dead
This article will examine why your Leaf won’t charge and how to fix it. I also cover another common Leaf owner complaint – Nissan Leaf won’t charge to 100%
No Power Going to Your Leaf
The most common cause for your Leaf not to charge is there is no power going to the charge port. There are a few reasons why no power is available.
- Power outage
- Overloaded circuit
- Scheduled shutdown
Power outages have become increasingly frequent in our everyday lives due to storms and weather conditions due to climate change. Unlike an ICE car, if you own an EV, it becomes second nature to check the weather. If we have no power, then we can’t charge our car, which could result in working from home for the day, (or worse!) having to take public transport!
Preparation is key. If we know a storm is brewing, we can recharge our car or have at least enough range to travel to a fast charger. Fast chargers are generally installed with backup power, such as solar.
Or we can have a generator on standby, which somewhat goes against the EV ethos but sometimes needs must.
First things first, check if you have any power. You may not have noticed that the power is down and gone straight to your car. My go-to item to check power is my electric stove. Most stoves have a digital clock on them. If the power is off, the reading will be a couple of hours behind and usually flashing. If the power is still off, no reading will be available.
The power might be restored, but that doesn’t mean your car has charged. Most people charge their Leaf at a particular time each day, usually at night. If you have had a power outage, your timer won’t kick in, and your car hasn’t charged.
You can do an immediate charge start now, but it will take a couple of hours to get you to the required level. As I say, if you have enough range, going to a fast charger is the optimum choice after a power outage.
Your charger’s circuit may have become overloaded at some point through the night, and your car hasn’t charged because the circuit has tripped.
Why would a circuit overload? For a couple of reasons. Each area of your house is zoned. Your EV takes a lot of power to charge, especially if you have a Level 2 installed. If somebody has plugged in another heavy energy item in that zone, the circuit may have tripped. This is, of course, a good thing. Circuits trip to prevent fire. But it’s not good if you thought your car was happily charging through the night only to discover that it hasn’t.
Look in the charging area and see if anything unusual is plugged into a power washer or anything with a heating element. If there is, unplug it and then go and check your circuit board. Flick the circuit switch, and hopefully, everything is back working correctly again.
If it trips again, there’s an issue with that zone, which could be your charger or the charging cable.
Unless you are a qualified electrician, you need to call one out to check over your EV setup. Don’t use it until someone has looked t it. Hopefully, you have enough range to get you where you need to go or at least to a fast charger.
Scheduled Power Outages
Scheduled Power Outages are becoming increasingly frequent with more energy drain on the grid. It certainly depends on where you live, but some states are more prevalent than others, i.e., California.
You should be notified when the power is going to be down. Generally, they turn the power down or reduce it just after a peak. Unfortunately, this is usually when EV owners charge their cars.
There just isn’t enough power to go around everyone some days, and the energy companies have to monitor and equalize the grid so they have enough for most of the time.
You can check if your power has been off by, as said, looking at something that has a digital clock. It should be running a few hours behind.
You can pre-plan how you will charge your car so you have enough range on the days that the scheduled outage is planned.
Charging Timer On
The next common issue – your car has a charging timer set. This is a great way of charging your car using off-peak cheaper electricity. But your EV has to be plugged in for the charging schedule to work.
You might have forgotten to plug in or been away from your charger at the scheduled time and missed the allocated charging period.
The charging timer can be set up for a set amount of time and also for multiple days of the week.
There are certain situations where the charging timer will not work or activate. They are:
- If the ‘Power’ switch is in the On position, the battery will not charge
- If the charging station also has a timer set that is different from your vehicles
- If the onboard computer senses the high voltage battery is too hot
- If the charging timer is set for a particular location – Home – and you’re trying to charge elsewhere (only on Leaf models with Navigation installed)
Cable problems are up there with power problems. Your Leaf charging cable is made of sturdy, heavy-duty plastic. But the reality is it bears the brunt of a lot of abuse. Not intentionally. Most people take very good care of their charging cable; when they unplug it, they loop it onto a hook until they need it again.
But life gets busy, and we forget to pack it away sometimes, and it gets driven on, shoved out of the way, and ultimately gets damaged.
If the car can’t create a full seal from the charge port to plug, no charging will occur.
It’s good practice to regularly inspect your cable, especially if more than one person uses it. Check for any cracks, nicks, or damage.
Only check when both ends are unplugged or disconnected. If you find any kind of damage, you need to replace the cable with a new one then. Charging cables cannot be repaired. Any leakage of voltage can cause serious injury or fatality.
Battery Too Hot
Nissan Leaf first sprang onto the EV market back in 2010. Initially, they were very popular, with little or no competition. They have sold 170,000 units in total, but a certain Mr. Musk put paid for that when he introduced Tesla on the scene.
That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the Nissan Leaf, but Tesla has different ways of doing things.
Regarding EVs, the most important element is the high-voltage battery. The high-voltage battery has to maintain specific parameters in terms of temperature. This is where the Leaf falls down.
Most recent EVs have applied coolant technology to keep the high-voltage battery at the optimum temperature.
The Leaf uses fans instead of coolant. This is not as efficient and leads to problems with the Battery Management System. If the temperature is too hot, the onboard computer will not allow charging to take place. This is especially noticeable if you are attempting to fast charge. Fast charging uses DC power which generates more heat in the batteries and so requires the fans to work even harder.
If you have fast-charged recently and find you need to charge again, the software will prevent you from doing so to protect the battery’s longevity.
It can lead to a Diode in the charge port malfunctioning. If you find that only one charge port is working, you’ll need to check the car with a dealer. Although not a big or involved job, it is to do with high voltage and should only be done by a qualified technician.
12V Battery Dead
All EVs, including the Leaf, have two batteries. The main high voltage battery that powers the car to move and an additional traditional 12V battery. Most EV brands use lead acid batteries; they are cheap and identical to the 12V batteries found in ICE cars. Some brands have recently started introducing Lithium Ion 12v (about 15V).
Although they are much more expensive to produce, they are much smaller and much lighter than lead acid. The lighter weight is more beneficial in an EV for range factors; the lighter the overall vehicle, the further the range.
In the Leaf, the 12V runs all the auxiliary items such as locks, windows, etc., but it also runs the electronics that send the signal to allow charging to activate. This is a problem if the 12V is flat, as you won’t be able to charge your high voltage.
To boost your 12V, follow these steps:
- Put the vehicle in Park (P)
- Turn everything off
- The power switch can’t be moved from the OFF position
- Pop the hood and locate the 12V
- Connect the lumpers to the 12V (this has to be done in a specific order)
- Connect the Red (+) to Red (+)
- Connect the Black (-) to Black (-)
- Start the booster (either a boost pack or donor engine)
- Move Leaf to ‘Ready to Drive’ position
- Start your Leaf
- Remove the jumper cables in the reverse order as below
- Black (-) and Black (-)
- Red (+) and Red (+)
You will now be able to charge your high-voltage battery. Plug in and activate as soon as you have boosted your 12V. Do not attempt to drive your Leaf if the Power Limitation Icon is visible (Yellow Turtle). Wait until you have enough power and your range is consistent with your journey distance.
I’ve covered a few other common Nissan Leaf issues which you hopefully won’t experience, but if you do, we have you covered with these posts:
You may find Is Leaf charger waterproof? helpful also.
If you are curious about other EV models, check out the EV FAQ category.
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