Here Are The Worst Nissan LEAF Years to Avoid for Old Models

Patrick Oziegbe
Updated On:

Are you in the market for a used Nissan LEAF? Before you make a purchase, it’s crucial to know which model years to steer clear of.

While the Nissan LEAF is a popular and budget-friendly electric vehicle, not all of its model years are created equal.

Some early years were plagued with issues that could leave you regretting your investment. From propulsion system failures to problematic brakes and airbags, we’ll cover it all.

But don’t worry, we won’t leave you hanging as you’ll discover the best nissan Leaf model years are the best to prioritize, so you can find a Nissan LEAF that provides a reliable, enjoyable, and eco-friendly driving experience.

worst Nissan LEAF Years

Leaf Years to Avoid

2011 and 2012 Model Years

In your search for a Nissan Leaf, it’s essential to know which years to avoid. The 2011 and 2012 models are known to have some problems, especially with battery capacity and degradation.

These early models faced issues with their battery management system, which led to rapid capacity loss and reduced driving range over time.

The cooling system in these models was also less efficient than in later versions, contributing to battery issues. Consequently, these models are not the best option, especially for those looking for longevity and reliability.

2015 Nissan Leaf

Another model year to avoid is the 2015 Nissan Leaf. According to NHTSA data, the 2015 model faced several recalls and issues, particularly with its braking system.

Owners reported braking problems in cold weather conditions, making it a safety concern. Furthermore, the overall reliability of the 2015 Nissan Leaf is considered lower than other model years, so it’s wise to steer clear if you are in the market for a used Leaf.

Other Problematic Model Years

Aside from the 2011, 2012, and 2015 models, there are a few other problematic Nissan Leaf years to keep in mind.

For instance, some of the earliest models, like 2011-2013, faced more significant issues than the later models.

However, as battery technology improved and Nissan updated its manufacturing processes, the Leaf’s reliability and performance got better.

When looking for a used Nissan Leaf, it’s essential to research each model year and be aware of common issues.

Always prioritize safety and reliability to ensure a positive ownership experience.

By avoiding problematic model years and focusing on more reliable options like the 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 models, you’ll have a better chance of finding a Leaf that suits your needs and provides a satisfying driving experience.

Common Issues and Reliability Concerns

In this section, we will discuss some common issues and reliability concerns with certain Nissan LEAF model years. These include battery capacity and range, tire wear and brakes, as well as recalls and electrical problems.

Battery Capacity and Range

One of the main concerns you may have about the Nissan LEAF relates to its battery capacity and range.

The 2011 to 2013 models are known to have the most issues in this regard. As your battery ages, it may not hold its charge as well as it once did, leading to a decrease in your electric vehicle’s overall range.

Newer models, such as the 2017 Nissan LEAF and beyond, have improved battery technology and better warranty coverage, ensuring a more reliable and affordable driving experience.

Tire Wear and Brakes

Aside from battery concerns, tire wear and brake issues have been reported in some Nissan LEAF models, particularly the 2011 version.

Excessive tire wear can lead to reduced fuel efficiency, lower handling performance, and compromised safety.

To minimize these risks and keep your Nissan LEAF well-maintained, it’s essential to regularly check tire pressure and alignment and rotate your tires as needed.

Similarly, brake problems can impact your vehicle’s safety and performance. If you experience any unusual noises, vibrations, or reduced braking power, it’s crucial to have your brakes inspected and serviced promptly.

Recalls and Electrical Problems

In addition to the previously mentioned issues, there have been several recalls for Nissan LEAF models, which could indicate a higher occurrence of electrical problems.

Recalls could range from issues with the airbag system to concerns about potential rust or corrosion. It’s essential to stay informed about any recalls affecting your vehicle and ensure that repairs are made in a timely manner.

In conclusion, while the Nissan LEAF has had some concerns with reliability in the past, newer models have improved upon these issues.

Trim Levels and Pricing

The Nissan LEAF typically comes in three main trims: the S, SV, and SL. The S trim is the base model, offering a solid set of features at an affordable price.

While it might not have all the bells and whistles, it still provides a reliable and efficient electric vehicle experience.

The SV trim is a step up from the S, providing additional features and technology while still maintaining a reasonable price.

Some of these upgrades may include improved infotainment features and driver-assistance technologies. It’s a great option for those wanting a bit more out of their LEAF without significantly increasing the cost.

The top-of-the-line SL trim offers the most luxurious features and packages in the LEAF lineup.

With the highest price tag, you can expect enhanced driving performance, premium materials, and state-of-the-art technology.

This trim is perfect for those who want to fully enjoy the electric vehicle experience without any compromises.

One of the most appealing aspects of the Nissan LEAF is its affordability. It’s not uncommon to find used models for under $10,000, making it a fantastic option for budget-conscious buyers.

Newer models with updated features will likely be closer to the $10,000 price point or higher, but they’re still considered affordable in comparison to other electric vehicles in the market.

When shopping for a Nissan LEAF, keep in mind the specific features and performance specifications that matter most to you.

Comparisons to Competitors

Chevrolet Bolt

The Chevrolet Bolt is a compact car perfect for city driving and is often compared to the Nissan LEAF. The Bolt has a longer range than the LEAF, thanks to its larger battery capacity. Moreover, it boasts a snappy acceleration, making it fun to drive.

Two key problems with the Bolt are its cramped rear seating and a less-refined ride compared to the LEAF. However, if you prioritize range and performance, the Chevrolet Bolt might suit you better.

Tesla Model 3

When it comes to electric vehicles, the Tesla Model 3 is undoubtedly one of the main competitors for any EV.

This vehicle offers not only a longer range, but also a sleek design and cutting-edge technology features. Teslas are known for their Autopilot system, which provides advanced driver assistance that you won’t find in a Nissan LEAF.

That said, two concerns with the Model 3 are its relatively high price and a learning curve associated with its unique user interface. If you’re on a tighter budget or prefer a more traditional layout, the Nissan LEAF might be more appealing to you.

Hyundai Kona Electric

The Hyundai Kona Electric is another EV that you might want to consider as an alternative to the Nissan LEAF. It boasts an impressive range and a comfortable ride, making it suitable for both city driving and road trips.

Nevertheless, some drawbacks of the Kona Electric include its tight rear seating and limited cargo space. If you require more passenger and storage space, the Nissan LEAF might be a better fit for your needs.

Kia Niro

Finally, there’s the Kia Niro, an electric vehicle with a design focused on practicality and efficiency. This crossover offers a roomier interior than the Nissan LEAF, making it a great option for families.

On the other hand, two concerns with the Niro are its relatively limited range in comparison to other competitors and a less engaging driving experience.

If you’re looking for a more spirited drive or a longer range, the Nissan LEAF could be the better choice for you.

Desirability of Newer and Certain Older Models

2017 and Later Models

Many experts recommend focusing on newer models, specifically from 2017 onwards.

These vehicles are known to have more reliable batteries with larger capacities, which means they can retain a higher percentage of their original range for a longer period of time.

For instance, a 30 kWh battery from a 2017 model with 60% State of Health (SoH) would still have the same energy as a 24 kWh battery with 75% SoH from an older model.

Additionally, 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023 Nissan Leaf models also offer significant improvements in battery life, making them even more desirable.

Pros and Cons of Buying a Used Nissan Leaf

There are several factors to consider when looking for a used Nissan Leaf. Here’s a breakdown of some advantages and disadvantages to help you make an informed decision:


  • Affordability: One of the primary benefits of buying a used Nissan Leaf is its affordability. A good-condition, older model can cost significantly less than $10,000, making it an attractive option for those on a tight budget.
  • Lower maintenance costs: As an electric vehicle, a used Nissan Leaf generally requires less maintenance than its gas-powered counterparts. This can result in lower ongoing costs for you.
  • Eco-friendly: By choosing a used Nissan Leaf, you’re making an environmentally conscious decision, as electric vehicles produce zero tailpipe emissions.


  • Battery degradation: Older Nissan Leaf models, particularly those from 2011-2013, may have experienced significant battery degradation, reducing their overall range. Be mindful of this potential issue when shopping for older models.
  • Lesser range: While newer models of the Nissan Leaf boast improved range, older models may not be able to travel as far on a single charge, which could be a concern for those with longer commutes or frequent road trips.
  • Limited availability: Finding a used 2019 or 2020 Nissan Leaf can be challenging due to their limited availability in the market.

By weighing the pros and cons of buying a used Nissan Leaf, including the affordability and lower maintenance costs, alongside potential battery degradation and limited availability of newer models, you can make a well-informed decision that best suits your needs and preferences.

Safety Features and Ratings

The Nissan LEAF has a variety of safety features to ensure a secure driving experience.

In this section, you’ll learn about some of the key safety features and ratings that make this vehicle a reliable choice for your needs.

One of the great features that Nissan LEAF offers is the adaptive cruise control, which helps you maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you.

This can not only help you feel more confident on the road, but it also reduces the chance of a collision due to following too closely.

The LEAF is also equipped with an automatic emergency braking system, which works by detecting potential collisions ahead and applying the brakes if necessary.

This feature can provide additional peace of mind and enhance your driving experience.

Furthermore, the LEAF’s driver assistance features are quite impressive, offering support in various aspects of your driving journey. Some examples include:

  • Lane departure warning, which alerts you if you start drifting from your lane unintentionally.
  • Blind-spot monitoring, which detects and alerts you of other vehicles in your blind spots.
  • Around view monitors that provide a 360-degree view of your surroundings, making parking and navigating tight spaces much easier.

As for safety ratings, when the Nissan LEAF was crash-tested by Euro NCAP, it scored impressive ratings across the board, with 93% and 86% for adult and child occupant protection, respectively.

These scores reflect the structural integrity of the car and should give you confidence in the LEAF’s safety performance.


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