• Apr 11th 2011 at 12:59PM
  • 30
2011 Nissan Leaf – Click above for high-res image gallery

When you start up an electric car, the first thing a new EV driver notices is the silence. For some Nissan Leafs, though, things are a little too silent – as in, the car isn't starting at all.

According to a report in Reuters, Nissan is getting complaints that some Leafs randomly don't start, a problem caused by something in the air conditioning system. This is happening to an unknown number of Leafs in the U.S. and Japan. Spokesman Toshitake Inoshita told Reuters that the problem could be a particular component or a programming issue. Since there is no safety hazard – if the car doesn't start, how can it cause a problem? – for now, there are no plans to issue a recall. This might change once Nissan figures out what's wrong. You can read Nissan's official statement after the jump.

Meanwhile, Leaf owners are working on their own to identify the problem, and it appears the A/C unit is most certainly to blame, and often in conjunction with pre-cooling the car. If your Leaf dashboard flashes on a bunch of warning lights, don't do the first thing you think of and turn the car off, because that's when the real problems start. The short version, taken from the helpful Leaf drivers over at My Nissan Leaf, "if your car throws the exclamation point car error with the yellow triangle, don't turn it off, drive to your nearest dealer or risk requiring a tow."

[Source: Reuters, My Nissan Leaf via All Cars Electric]
Show full PR text
Nissan has recently become aware of an issue on a small number of Nissan LEAFs with a sensor in the air conditioning system. If this sensor is activated it will illuminate a warning light on the instrument panel and may cause the vehicle to not restart once it has been turned off. We are actively investigating to determine the root cause and what action is necessary to address the issue.

This is not a safety issue as the vehicle will not stop running while being driven but may not restart after being turned off. Nissan is committed to a high level of customer service and satisfaction and is working to promptly address this issue.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      They might think they aren't going to have to recall them, but they'd be wrong! They are all under warranty anyhow. Denying and delaying will result in the type of publicity they really don't want. Look what happened to Toyota..
        • 4 Years Ago
        Isn't the purpose of a "Recall" is to provide free repair service to any owner, regardless of warranty status.

        Since the Leaf is so new that ALL vehicles are fully covered under warranty... why would a "recall" be needed?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Recalls can certainly happen while a car is also still under warranty.

        Recalls are required whenever a vehicle or piece of original equipment are found to be defective in such a fashion as to be unsafe, or if found to be non-compliant with safety regulations. Federal reg. 49 CFR 573 is the authority here.

        In the Leaf's case, the inability to start the car is not considered unsafe, as pointed out in the article - so there is no need for a recall to be initiated.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Why a recall? Mostly to inform that one lone Leaf owner who doesn't read the Internets that his car may (or may not) have a defect that requires him visiting the dealer that he normally wouldn't.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Not acceptable for a production car.

      Sounds like a very minor problem however.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I do not think it is a minor issue, because I do not believe that the cause , i.e. that a detector in the AC causes the car not to start.
        As the A/C seems to be involved, this could be related to the already known problem that the LEAF doesn't perform well under cold conditions and therefore only sold in the South

        Pls. read at MoneyCNN the article of Valdez-Dapena regarding his experieneces when he took a LEAF to NY, obtaining miles/charge far under the indicated by EPA and unreliable "miles available before recharging" indication

        I suspect that until now NISSAN has delivered only vey few caes has to do because they are grapling with this problems. As it is, the NISSAN promises a blessing for the towing services .
      • 4 Years Ago
      I wonder what the response would be like if this was the Volt.....
      • 4 Years Ago
      Keyless ignitions should be illegal. Anyway, is it REALLY that much of an inconvenience to insert and twist a key? Lazy asses.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm not sure I follow your reasoning. You don't like keyless ignitions so they should be made illegal?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Illegal or illegal? A very, very good question! When in doubt, always err on the side of over-regulation. But first justify the expensive legislation with an even more expensive study prompted by a 'concerned citizens' group.

        Is key entry racist or more importantly, is the idea of a 'key' sexist! (more studies) .

        Your taxes at work, in the nanny state.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Why should they be illegal? Do we really need the government to ban buttons because some folks MAY not be using them correctly?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Shhhhh! Don't let my LEAF find this out! I've had 1,000 worry free (and gas free) miles so far! :-)
      • 4 Years Ago
      Agreed, Although sometimes these rumours of faults in new vehicles turn out to be just myths. Sometimes even deliberate frauds like the Toyota, "I can't stop my car".

      These myths, once started are very difficult to stop. Imagine if this fault had been detected in the Volt or Ford Focus EV, the story would have been front page news and trumpeted as evidence that EV's, and especially US made EV's were unreliable and prone to bafflingly complicated faults.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I disagree with some of the technical assessments made by this article and comments. The DTCs being reported by the affected Leaf owners are for "loss of isolation". Anyone working with or on hybrids or electric vehicles should be very familiar with these types of faults/failures. Essentially it indicates that select vehicle module/s have detected the presence of high-voltage (~300VDC of either + or - polarity)exists on the vehicle ground plane.
      The threshold for these DTCs to "set" is somewhat variable but generally trigger when isolation is detected as being lass than 100-250K ohms. The high-voltage positive and negative circuits must remain isolated from the chassis and bodywork of a vehicle to both prevent damage to negative grounded compo entry AND maintain general electric vehicle safety.
      This safety system then prevents the various components on the car from becoming "live" by actively disconnecting the energy storage system from its cabling to the rest of the car.
      The air-conditioning system is always suspect with isolation DTCs are present due to the fact that the A/C compressor will often operate at high-voltages on many hybrids and EVs. Contamination, excessive moisture and/or air or the use of incorrect refrigerant oils (generally polyolefin ester based) can often trigger these DTCs. So in this case, one would think the use of the A/C compressor is merely the triggering mechanism, not necessarily the root cause.

      Merely altering the software to lower the LOI detection levels to rectify this issue isn’t really a viable option UNLESS it is proven that there really isnt an LOI issue that exists and the threshold used by Nissan is abnormally high.
      At this point I'm certain Nissan's efforts are focused on determining if there is truly an LOI issue present (and YES if so the safest thing to do is SHUT DOWN the high-voltage source via the contactor system)OR if an anomaly truly exists in their self-diagnostic routines for loss-of isolation.
      Until such determination can be ascertained, it would not be advisable for owners of these cars to do anything but get these cars to their Nissan dealers where trained technicians can properly and safely assess if any risk exists.
      No attempt to “clear” the DTCs or otherwise bypass these detected safety concerns should be made without full understanding of the risks involved.
      • 4 Years Ago
      WOW....I hope it doesn't hurt their sales of 60 cars per month!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes that's right, after all the hype and accolades from a clueless press, the people have no use for a $35K glorified golf cart that will leave them stranded in the first stop and go traffic jam encounter in the REAL world!!!!
        • 4 Years Ago
        That is the most ignorant comment I have heard, if you don't know the leaf don't comment. The Leaf has a recharging mechanism in the brakes that helps recharge the battery every time you press the brakes. Basically in a traffic jam you will generate more battery power than you will use. Personally I just did a 30 miles city drive and ended up gaining two miles on the battery charge. left the house with 44 miles and got to work with 46. Also you will regret calling it a golf cart after it flies by you, the car is impressibly fast. I would recommend anyone talking bad about the leaf to get their facts straight and by the way it is not 35 thousand you can lease it after a 10k discount from the government for less than 300 a month with 0 down. If that is not impressive I do not know what is.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Barney, you're embarrassing yourself.
        • 4 Years Ago
        People that care about the environment and not paying for gas *do*, in fact, have use for $35K fully-featured full-sized electric plug-in car that has great power and performs great on the road. Also, stop and go traffic does not affect the distance you can travel. The main batteries are not being used while you are stopped. Only the 12V car battery that is for lighting and radio is still be used. So far, my Leaf is performing GREAT in the REAL world!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Um? They sold out first year production, and the only thing inhibiting sales is lack of supply.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The one thing I would not want to see in an electric car: The dreaded Microsoft effect.

      Can you do a Ctl+Alt+Del on this thing???
        • 4 Years Ago
        That's why they altered the term for eco-cars from green to blue - so as to sneakily prepare people for the 'blue screen of death!' :-(
      • 4 Years Ago
      Leaf owner's manual, from page 5-7:

      EMERGENCY EV (Electric Vehicle) SHUT OFF
      To shut off the EV (Electric Vehicle) in an emergency situation while driving, perform the
      following procedure.
      Rapidly push the power switch 3 consecutive times or,
      Push and hold the power switch for more than 2 seconds.

      Can any USA Leaf owner please try this procedure from stilstand and reply ?

      Other plausible cause:
      When the Intelligent Key battery is almost discharged or strong radio waves are present
      near the operating location, the Intelligent Key system’s operating range becomes narrower and it may not function properly.
      If the Intelligent Key is placed on the instrument panel, inside the glove box or
      door pocket, the Intelligent Key may not function.
      • 4 Years Ago
      my parents' VW Golf would freeze up at times. was a computer thing. it helped to disconnect the 12V battery for a few moments. sounds like a similar bug hangup here
      • 3 Years Ago
      Buy TESLA electric cars if you want a great EV, buy Nissan or GM if you want to waste your money
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