My wife came home one night and told me that when she had started up her Leaf for the drive home it “acted wonky” with lots of warning lights on the dash, and the brake pedal went to the floor without actually keeping the leaf from inching out of the parking space she was in. This sounded like the 12 volt accessory battery was no longer holding a charge and was in a low voltage state (which the electronics in the car really don’t like!). This happens when the battery ages, and Nissan Leaf’s are notorious for going through 12 volt accessory batteries quickly. (Even though the batteries don’t need to provide a lot of cold cranking amps to turn over an engine, the car electronics draw a lot of power, and the main power distribution unit will re-charge the battery at a high amp rate when the car is on. They are also a relatively small sub-compact size (Group Size 51R). The car is 4 years old, so I figured it was about time for the OEM battery to be replaced.
When I went to examine the battery under the hood, I realized that it needed to be replaced sooner rather than later. It’s never a good sign when the special blue power crystals escape from the positive terminal lug, or battery acid eats the paint off of your battery hold down bar…
So, after spraying foaming battery acid neutralizer all over the place, I re-painted the battery hold down strap and bought a Duralast Platinum 51R AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) battery at AutoZone that comes with a 3 year replacement warranty. (It was cheaper than the yellow top Optima AGM battery that is widely recommended for the Leaf, and the warranty period was the same.)
People online have said that AGM’s work better with the high current charge rate provided by the leaf’s power distribution center, and I figure that being sealed they would be less likely to vent acid over other parts of the car. I could have gone with the $70 battery that came with a 3 month warranty, but I figured that the Leaf is hard enough on it’s accessory battery that I’d better pay for the good one.
So far the maintenance needs of the Leaf have been relatively small, and this is the first major item that needed to be replaced. (New tires are coming up soon.) Other than this battery replacement, I’ve bought new wiper blades, replaced the cabin air filter, refilled the wiper fluid and rotated the tires.