Nissan LEAF review: some owners have been left stranded


Nissan can now tack-on range as a plaguing issue among LEAF owners.  Various sources estimated the LEAF’s range at 100 miles, give or take weather and terrain conditions.  Unfortunately, some LEAF drivers in the United States have been left stranded due to the vehicle’s unpredictable range.

A lot of factors go into just how much range a driver can get with a Nissan LEAF, but the general consensus over at the MyNissanLEAF forum,  makes it seem like the vehicle’s reported 100-mile range is  false.   Many drivers have had their trips come to a screeching halt due to range issues. Drivers found their vehicle going into “turtle” mode — marked by an orange turtle icon on the Leaf’s dash —  and would then be followed by the car shutting down to prevent battery damage.

The Nissan LEAF is supposed to gradually warn the driver, verbally and visually, before the turtle icon switches on. However, this hasn’t been the case for some owners. Here’s what one LEAF owner from San Diego had happen to him on the road last month:

“Went from 17 to —- to turtle to dead in about 5 miles. 2.3 miles from dealer. 4.2 miles from home. Part of me is amused that I may go down in history as the first dumbass to drive the car into submission. But I am slightly shaky and upset as I thought there should have been no problem getting home.”

Another LEAF owner left a  Seattle airport last month for a 15-mile drive home. The vehicle indicated that it had enough juice to last for 26 miles:

Around downtown the range is down to 8 miles (still plenty to get home, which was by then 5 miles away). At the ship-canal bridge it went into turtle, I barely got off the freeway. 2 Mile from home and after about half the distance it told I would have from the airport, i.e. 13 actual miles driven, it went dead. I actually managed to drive 400 yards in turtle mode. 10:30 pm, wife and screaming kids in the car (which was blocking the right lane of a busy road), just came back from the east coast, cars zooming by and honking, several near misses.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stated that the LEAF had a range of 73 miles.  Various LEAF owners over at  MyNissanLeaf report 60 to 80 miles of range on a daily basis.

Katherine Zachary, a spokesperson for Nissan,  said that while Nissan has reports of a couple of “isolated” events, the car company does not see a trend of unexpected shutdowns among LEAF owners.


13 Responses

  1. jeffhre says:

    My conclusion when this first came out – If you have 15 to 20 miles of range left, get thyself to a charger – irregardless. Clearly as conditions change and Nissan’s algorithms tally the difference, those last seven or eight mile range readings can instantaneously drop to…”now out of range for everything call for a tow.”


  2. demetrius says:

    ‘wife and screaming kids in the car’. This Leaf was a loaded to the limit and driving on the freeway. I guess the algorithm doesn’t account for 400 pounds of extra humans on board…

    +1 Volt


  3. Jimza Skeptic says:

    What is really scary is these cats are the early adopters that should know better! What happens when you get the “normal” person that is used to predictable safe transportation?

    I miss Tronz, EVNow and George S Windy. They were always good for a few chuckles on this subject.


  4. Carcus says:

    Sharon Carter –

    Did you even take the time to read the thread on the mynissanleaf forum? From what you’ve written here, I’d say you didn’t.

    Looks like you’re interested in controversy and hit counts above all else.

    Case in point: why is the word “isolated” presented in italics in your article?

    /there are days where I truly question you (or your company’s) motivation for purchasing this website.


  5. Sharon says:


    -Thank you for your input, please have a nice day.


  6. Carcus says:


    Same to you.


  7. demetrius says:

    I want a Leaf – if anyone wants to get rid of theirs I’m sure you can make all your money back and then some…


  8. demetrius says:

    Paul, I think that you are right about the driver not understanding the limitations of his Leaf – but unfortunately, he will be telling everyone he knows HOW BAD THE LEAF IS… This is precisely why pure EV’s like the Leaf need owner training, and ubiquitous public charging stations.

    This will come someday – but there will be many of these stories in the next few months…

    The volt does look like the real bridging technology…


  9. Many drivers have reported that the LEAF’s reported remaining range fluctuates wildly, based on such things as recent energy usage. Marc Geller has stated that this gauge is guaranteed to create range anxiety. What is needed is a state-of-charge (SOC) indicator, a value that is already available to the vehicle’s electronics and would be a fairly reliable fuel gauge. Drivers would soon learn, just as with a gasoline car, how far they can expect to go in various conditions on e.g. 25% charge. Better yet would be to also include instantaneous and (trip-odometer-initialized) cumulative fuel economy gauges, which, for non-technical people could be calibrated in “miles per % charge”. The Volt has a trip-odometer-connected gasoline economy gauge, but neither vehicle sports any of this basic instrumentation for electric fuel. No wonder drivers are having trouble effectively estimating remaining range!

    I believe the LEAF, and know that the Volt, does present % SOC on the vehicle’s smartphone app, so a driver concerned about range can check his smartphone (when stopped or via a passenger) to learn this critical information that is not otherwise available.


  10. rvd says:

    looks like driving leaf is equivalent to running on (almost) empty tank
    like you have “please re-fuel” light every damn minute
    and if it says 25 miles left – forget about it, stay home


  11. dino says:

    I for one would much, much rather deal with, ‘range anxiety’ with my LEAF, than to have ‘on-going’ gas-prices anxiety!! Atleast I can charge for FREE where ever possible.


  12. dalc5 says:

    You gotta love the fact that GM took care of this issue with the Volt. Gas in the tank to get you home when you need it, priceless! Go Chevy!!!!!!!!


  13. ElectricCar&EnvironmentAnxiety says:

    Why the LEAF did not have the SOC installed in it as Ron Gremban mentions as a solution to the problem does not make sense. Modern computer technology would allow everything from weather, to weight load, to internal heating, and air conditioning to be factored in to better measure how far the car is able to go given these conditions. Sometimes one wonders if the automakers want this EV technology to succeed. Still, given the triple problems of peak oil, global warming, and Middle Eastern hostilities the sensible choice for world is to move away from the internal combustion engine as quickly as possible.


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