Part of our battery replacement series.

Nissan’s LEAF has been an EV favorite for a decade. As the first internationally mass market and affordable electric car, it has played a crucial role in EV adoption. Its long tenure also makes it a leader in battery replacement, many being replaced by Nissan themselves under warranty. 

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. All lithium ion batteries degrade over time, and that includes the packs found in electric vehicles. Many used EV batteries also find second lives as backup or energy storage, which does not require the full capacity and power of a new battery. 

The key thing to keep in mind is that batteries degrade with time and how they are used over that period can make that degradation worse. Things like high depth of discharge or frequent fast charging can expedite the aging process. But even if a vehicle’s owner follows the best battery hygiene, a replacement could still be essential after many years of service. 

If you are new to EVs or want to better understand the battery aging process, here’s a short battery degradation e-book

LEAF Batteries and Sizes

The Nissan LEAF has model years that range from 2011 to 2022 and battery sizes that range from 22 to 62 kilowatt hours (kWh). Here is a simple overview of how the battery sizes aligned with model years. Batteries replaced by Nissan under warranty are replaced with 40 kWh packs

  • 2011 - 2017: 24 kWh
  • 2016: 30 kWh
  • 2018+: 40 kWh
  • Plus: 62 kWh

The range of a Nissan LEAF also varies. In the Recurrent community, which includes over 1000 active LEAF drivers, we see daily ranges from 64 to 280 miles. Here is a summary of original EPA ranges by model year. 

  • 2011 - 2013: 73 - 75 miles
  • 2014 - 2017: 84 miles
  • 2016 (30 kWh): 107 miles
  • 2018+: 151 miles
  • LEAF Plus: 226 miles

How Long Do LEAF Batteries Last?

Product warranties can tell you lots about a product’s expected lifespan. For example, a Dodge Ram truck (with a combustion engine) often comes with a 5 year and/or 60,000 mile powertrain warranty. The truck will last much longer than that, but Dodge has a very high level of confidence that it will not be paying out a lot to cover vehicle repairs in the first 5 years. 

The battery warranty for a Nissan LEAF is 8 years and/or 100,000 miles. Now, 8 years does not sound like a long time, until you compare it to the 5 years that Dodge covers in its trucks. Suddenly, 8 years sounds a bit better. 

We should also keep in mind that the lifespan of an EV battery can be somewhat personal. Battery degradation means that every car will lose available range over time, but it isn’t until it limits you that it becomes an issue. Consider that with the LEAF. If a 2015 Nissan LEAF has an original EPA range of 84 miles, and some range is lost with time, its useful life may be shorter than a vehicle with a 300+ mile range. 

Battery Replacement Process & Timeline

Replacing an EV battery is more like replacing an engine than swapping the D battery in your smoke alarm. Replacements can be dangerous without the proper equipment. First of all, batteries are heavy, and secondly, they store a lot of electrical energy. Improper handling could result in electrical shock.

You’ll first schedule an appointment with your local dealership or mechanic. They’ll hoist the vehicle into the air to get access to its battery. After removing the old battery, they’ll insert the new one and reattach the proper cords. Oftentimes special equipment is required to update the vehicle's software and let it know it has a new battery.

The replacement can be done within a day by an experienced professional. However, if parts need to be ordered, you’ll be at the mercy of the supply chain.

It is important to note that not all battery replacement procedures involve replacing the whole battery unit. Sometimes mechanics can identify defective modules, which are components of the whole battery unit, or defective individual cells, which make up modules. They will then simply replace the defective modules or cells, saving the vehicle owner plenty of money.

For a walk through on a Leaf Battery replacement, check out this video produced by an independent mechanic.

LEAF Battery Replacement Cost

The LEAF battery itself costs about $4,500, placing the price per kWh at $187/kWh, which is 36% above the quoted 2020 $137/kWh price. Based on discussions with LEAF owners and endlessly scrolling through owner forums, the replacement cost 24 kWh battery in a Nissan Leaf is $5,500 including labor. The battery research team at Recurrent did a full review of EV replacement costs across popular vehicle makes and models. 

Choosing a Nissan Battery Replacement Expert

Your options for LEAF battery replacements typically come down to going to a Nissan dealership or working with a battery replacement specialist. Like buying an oil change in a combustion engine vehicle, the dealership service prices tend to be steeper. 

More affordable options may exist, particularly if you live on the coasts. The LEAF community actually maintains a list of replacement shops. 

What Happens to Secondhand LEAF Batteries?

There’s a common misconception that used EV batteries go straight to the landfill. Once a LEAF battery reaches the end of useful life getting people from A to B in an electric vehicle, it will likely take one of two paths. 

One of those paths is providing backup power to either a data center as a stationary battery or as energy storage for a renewable power source. Stationary power does not have the same rigorous demands of an EV – namely rapid charging and discharging – so a battery can provide many additional years of support. 

Lots of companies are using LEAF batteries, in particular, to provide stationary power. Here’s a visual story from the Washington Post about a small company that tracks down LEAF batteries from salvage yards or auto auctions to repurpose to store solar power for RVs. 

For recalled batteries or those found to be unsafe for immediate reuse, recycling is a growing industry. The rare-earth metals found in batteries are expensive and often reusable after processing. The challenge is getting them out safely. Unlike recycling a cardboard box, used EV batteries store energy that can electrocute and chemicals that can start fires. 

Some exciting and heavily funded companies are already recycling EV batteries and attempting to make the process safer and cheaper.