Armen Hareyan's picture

Nissan LEAF Battery Charging Difference Explained

"I am a new Nissan LEAF SV owner and am getting battery full charge readings anywhere from 73-97 miles. Is this common?" asks Amanda Lopes Butterfield in SF Bay Area Nissan LEAF Owners group. The feedback from the responders sheds light on the subject.

Andrew Chiang replies and says, "yes," it is normal, but also writes that it is worthless. He points out to a discussion at and continues: "If you have 2013+ LeAF, you are FAR better off depending on the % SoC (State of Charge) display. I just "love" it when my GOM starts off at 80 miles and when I drive 8 miles, it goes up to 88.... Or, if I go up a steep hill (e.g. highway 17), GOM drops by 40 miles after giong only 10 miles. As I said, worthless."

Ed Mellinger explains that battery charging differences depend on owner's previous driving pattern. It "depends how you were driving before you stopped to plug in. I assume you're looking at the guess-o-meter, the affectionate name for the mileage estimate that's displayed on the dash as part of the "fuel gauge". It looks at your recent driving and resultant energy economy, and predicts how far you can go with available charge if you keep driving the same way. Fast on the freeway, slow on a secondary road, stop-and-go traffic, all have very different energy efficiency and thus different mileage estimates. Switching on the heater, A/C, or defrost will also knock a bit off the 'guessed' range," writes Ed.

Amanda Butterfield, who originaly asked the question, clarified that her's is the 2013 model. She charged it the night before from practicality dead (got the find a charger message), and it only went to 77 miles at 100%. "I only drive it around town so far, and just two trips about 35 miles one way. I'm using the home charger with thoughts of possibly getting a home L2 charger," Butterfield says.

"As for 'practically dead,' there are 3 warnings: LBW, VLBW (Very Low Battery Warning) then turtle, replies back Chiang. "It's been stated that (when the car is new), LBW sounds at ~17-18% SoC, VLBW at about 7-8% and turtle at 1-2%. Those percentages may rise as the battery degrades. The LBW and VLBW values are about right."

Sanjay Saigal replies to the original question. "Your driving style is the single largest determinant of range (other than battery condition). Aero-mods are not particularly common, perhaps because the Leaf has been designed ab initio as an EV in which range maximization is primary and also because of the prevalence of leasing."

Marc Fontana asks questions all Nissan LEAF owners should ask themselves and suggests a solution. "How many miles do you have on your 2013 LEAF? I have a 2011 LEAF and charge mostly to 80%, unless I need more range that day, then I plug it 1 hour before I leave to get to 100%. 77 miles seems pretty low for a 100% charge unless your driving just prior to charging was at higher speeds, or your battery has lost some capacity. How many miles on the odometer? How many battery capacity bars do you have? Have someone get a reading of the battery health with an app like LEAF Spy."

What type of full charge reading do you get on your LEAF?

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It's not "worthless." Like you said, it shows you how many miles you have left if you keep driving like you're driving, or were driving when you stopped. As you get to know your car and your driving habits, you will become quite good at knowing the range, and even at squeezing more range out of it by modifying your driving habits.

As for L2 charging at home, do have your EVSE converted to 240 volts. It is very much worthwhile investment because you can take it with you wherever you go and with home made adapters plug into all sorts of 240 volt receptacles.

"Worthless" maybe a little harsh. Way inaccurate is probably more correct terminology. Over the years I have discovered that an "Accurate" range estimation can be calculated by dividing the reading on the Guess-o-Meter by 2 in favorable weather. In the winter time (In Virginia) divide by 3. If the temperatures dip into the single digits and you cycle the heat on then divide by 5. Works great. BTW I have a 2011 Leaf, NO BATTERY HEATER and LeafSpy says 79% capacity at 10,000 miles.

The GOM is nearly worthless because past/recent driving may have NOTHING to do w/your future driving. The car can't predict the future as it won't know if you're going to drive fast or slow, up a hill or down a hill, your HVAC use, etc.

Having this extra black box that constantly makes adjustments/guesses based upon the above only adds to the confusion and can create unnecessary range anxiety. Since I can't seem to post links, Google for dog chasing his tail

And, as the OP pointed out, their full charge GOM values were all over the place. I've never seen my GOM show over even 100 miles, yet I saw a co-workers's 2015 Leaf GOM at 101 miles likely because he has to come down a steep grade before arriving at work. He has to go back up that steep grade to go home and I'll bet his GOM drops by 40 miles after traveling 10 (same hill where I observed that).

2012 Leaf 24K miles down 3 bars...very glad I leased it..going back to Nissan in December.. Poor customer service but car convinced me to purchase a Tesla. Good luck.

Wow. I still have 12 of 12 bars at 37k miles on a 2013 Leaf.

My home is about 1000 feet higher than where I work, which is also about 25 miles away. After charging at work I will see estimated ranges of 95+ and after charging at holme, my esti aged range is in the low 70's. One way I go to work is a long, windy, gradual downhill. After driving 12-15 miles from home (remember that 70 mile range estimate) I've seen a range of 118 miles.

Funny thing is they say the range is 84 miles on straight and level terrain. We have none of that. I am constantly going up hill, down hill, and on windy roads. Once on the way home coming up the particularly steep part, which is only 6 miles long or so, it said I had less range than the distance I was from home. Talk about range anxiety! From experience though I knew that once I crowned the hill my range would once again shoot up. I made it home no problem but did get the low charge warning about 2 miles from my house.

The best estimate is to count the little bars on the right indicator and multiply that by 7.