Nissan's LEAF holds the distinction of being the first widely available and affordable all-electric car. Overall, it's a civilized vehicle with very low running costs. It's very quiet, rides comfortably and is easy to enter and exit. The main drawbacks are its limited driving range of only about 75 miles per charge and long recharge times. This makes it best used as a commuter car or an urban runabout.

Reliability

Reliability indicates how models have performed in the past, providing the basis for predicting how the vehicles will hold up in the year ahead. These charts provide the most comprehensive reliability information available to consumers. Based on information received from our latest subscriber survey, our reliability history charts give you a rundown on how used vehicles are holding up in 17 potential trouble spots, ranging from the engine, transmission, and brakes to power equipment and the electrical system.

Overall Reliability
Most Common Trouble Spots
Common Trouble Spot
Common Trouble Spot
Research Years * Redesign year
Worse Better
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01
02
03
04
05
06
07
08
09
10
11*
12
13
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15
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18*
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Overall Reliability Verdict
NA
NA
POTENTIAL TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine Major
NA
NA
Engine Minor
NA
NA
Engine Cooling
NA
NA
Transmission Major
NA
NA
Transmission Minor
NA
NA
Drive System
NA
NA
Fuel System
NA
NA
Electric System
NA
NA
Climate System
NA
NA
Suspension
NA
NA
Brakes
NA
NA
Exhaust
NA
NA
Paint/Trim
NA
NA
Body Integrity
NA
NA
Body Hardware
NA
NA
Power Equipment
NA
NA
In-car Electronics
NA
NA
Reliability indicates how models have performed in the past, providing the basis for predicting how the vehicles will hold up in the year ahead. These charts provide the most comprehensive reliability information available to consumers. Based on information received from our latest subscriber survey for about 329,000 vehicles, our reliability history charts give you a rundown on how 2000 through 2020 vehicles are holding up in 17 potential trouble spots, ranging from the engine, transmission, and brakes to power equipment and the electrical system. NA indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.

Learn more about car Reliability.

Owner Reported Trouble Spots

The Reliability score is based on our latest subscriber survey of 2012 Nissan Leaf owners. The owner comments describe problems respondents experienced with this vehicle.

Drive System

Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), electrical failure.

What Owners Say

Electrical failure

"The traction battery charger failed. I had enough charge left to get to a Nissan Dealership for repair."

John T., SC (2012 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)

"The battery was basically defective and Nissan would not do anything about it except offer to sell me a new one for well over $8,000. Range of this all electric car was low to begin with but with the battery deteriorating it became impossible to go anywhere. Replaced it myself with a used battery, for thousands of dollars, and I'm not sure the results of that are adequate either. Nissan cars are not good anymore, they used to be a good brand but everyone has serious/major problems with their Nissan cars and Nissan won't help anyone."

Anonymous, PA (2012 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)

"At 59k the ev warning light came on intermittently and the battery would not charge. Dealer says on board charger ($3315.) needs replacing along with the charger port($1044.) and front strut mount $844. Car runs great but won't charge and only has 10 miles of range left. Waiting to hear back from Nissan Customer Care for possible assistance."

Anonymous, HI (2012 Nissan Leaf Electric)

"Would not start. Dealer had to reset the drive computer to get the car to function again"

Anonymous, CA (2012 Nissan Leaf SV Electric)

"Not so much battery failure - terrible range on the battery since purchasing the vehicle. I can no longer get to many places as the battery has degenerated over this short a period of time"

Siva A., CA (2012 Nissan Leaf SV Electric)

"Loss of battery range. I have lost 2 bars of battery capacity since I owned the car with battery warranty running out in October. Nissan will not replace the battery unless it loses 4 bars"

Lisa A., NC (2012 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)

"Battery capacity became low under extended warranty. Battery pack replaced under warranty. Note that you don't have a category for EV battery problems"

Daniel E., NC (2012 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)

Suspension

Shocks or struts, ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, alignment, steering linkage (includes rack and pinion), power steering (pumps and hoses, leaks), wheel balance, springs or torsion bars, bushings, electronic or air suspension.

What Owners Say

Bushings

"Worn bushings needed to be replaced."

Michael P., NJ (2012 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)
Shocks or struts

"rattle that sounds like a strut. Dealer claims not to be able to hear it. A cop out"

Harold P., NC (2012 Nissan Leaf SV Electric)

"This was a typical wear item not unexpected at 70.000+ miles"

Robert D., CA (2012 Nissan Leaf SV Electric)
Tie rods

"Excessive motion in front end going over bumps. Was repaired under warranty"

Thomas B., ON (2012 Nissan Leaf Electric)
Tire wear is uneven

"I used to check the tire pressure monthly and always kept them at the manufacturer recommended settings. The front tires were bald on the inside and outside at 12k miles. I do not drive fast, or on mountain roads. I now keep the tire pressure at 40lb"

Jacob L., CA (2012 Nissan Leaf SV Electric)

"It was delivered with front wheels WAY out of line. Tires had to be replaced at 34% of normal replacement milage"

Harold P., NC (2012 Nissan Leaf SV Electric)

"Needed a new axle. Maybe due to pothole."

Michael P., NJ (2012 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)

Power Equipment

Cruise control, clock, warning lights, body control module, keyless entry, wiper motor or washer, tire pressure monitor, interior or exterior lights, horn, gauges, 12V power plug, remote engine start, alarm or security system

What Owners Say

Battery (not hybrid or electric)

"The 12V battery died and was very expensive to replace. It caused the whole car to stop working while driving."

Chad H., GA (2012 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)
Heated steering wheel

"Quit heating,when outdoor demon was below 10, but resumed working in the Spring. Works now."

Anonymous, MN (2012 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)
Hybrid/electric battery replacement

"Charging capacity dropped below 8 bars, so Nissan performed full replacement of main battery assembly under warranty, at no cost"

Anonymous, FL (2012 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)

"High voltage battery replaced for free under warranty. Battery capacity dropped to 70% after 34 months and 25K miles due to South Florida heat. The newly installed batteries are heat resistant (a.k.a. Lizard Battery) and have not yet lost any capa"

Michael M., FL (2012 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)
Hybrid/electric system and battery (excluding replacement)

"The hybrid battery has dropped below 9 bars and is limiting range to less than 25 actual miles in the winter."

Chad H., GA (2012 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)
Ignition switch

"The car did not recognize the key in temperatures below 14 fahrenheit!"

Beverly S., OH (2012 Nissan Leaf SV Electric)

Climate System

Blower (fan) motor, A/C compressor, condenser, evaporator, heater system, automatic climate control, refrigerant leakage, electrical failure.

What Owners Say

Blower (fan) motor

"Squirrels stored acorns in the fan. Dealer said fan had to be replaced, but another dealer just removed the acorns"

Anonymous, MA (2012 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)

"Blower fan can shut down completely for a day or two at a time. Usually, it comes back on, but it is annoying."

David A., VA (2012 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)
Heater system

"Battery system shorted out the heater system. Never worked properly but eventually got a dealer to give a new heating system"

Anonymous, PA (2012 Nissan Leaf SV Electric)

"This was preceded by a failure of the charging system which was repaired in warranty. When I got the car back the heater no longer worked, but the dealer said it was not covered and would cost $1600 to repair. Called Nissan CS and protested and they authorized the repair for free out of warranty"

Lisa A., NC (2012 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)

Exhaust

Muffler, pipes, catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, leaks.

What Owners Say

Other/unsure

"There is a malfunction in the front passenger occupancy sensor. The sensor no longer sends data to the control unit. As a consequence, the front passenger control unit has turned off the front passenger air bag as a safety precaution. The entire front passenger seat must be replaced at a cost of over $3,000 just to replace the sensor. I was able to purchase a $100 aftermarket sensor emulator from Airbag360. The sensor emulator connects to the control unit and sends a signal to the control unit that a normal sized adult is sitting in the front passenger seat. The front passenger air bag will now always deploy in an accident. This is fine since children never ride in my front passenger seat."

Michael M., FL (2012 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)

"My 12 volt battery was no longer holding a charge. I went to the dealer to have it replaced. Immediately after having my 12 volt battery replaced the Airbag warning light started flashing due to a malfunction in the front passenger seat occupancy sensor. There has been multiple recalls (14V138000, 16V244000) for this exact problem on the 2013 to 2016 Nissan Leaf. I own a 2012 Nissan Leaf so I am not covered under the recall. Due to the high cost of repair (over $3,000) I have not fixed this issue. I have a $100 aftermarket sensor emulator that keeps the front passenger airbag on at all times. I hope Nissan will eventually issue a recall on the 2012 Leaf."

Michael M., FL (2012 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)

"Began in early February. The warning light came on and blinked. I was able to read the DTC - B1049 0008 Driver airbag module open SRC-59. Cleared the code but it came back within a day and 70 miles of driving. Took to the dealer. Diagnosed as a loose connection under the driver's seat.(i doubt it). Light was off when I picked up the car. Within 500 feet of leaving the dealership light came back on. Dealer re-diagnosed the problem (same Dtc) told me it was a faulty connector in the steering wheel and estimated it to be a $800-900 repair (parts and labor). This was in February. They'd have to order the part. I have not heard back from the dealership since Covid struck. I can clear the code, but it comes back after driving a few miles. Since I am now hardly driving the car, it is not a pressing concern. I am exploring doing the repair/replacement myself."

Anonymous, NM (2012 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)

"The warning light has been on for a while. It's a known issue / recall, but I haven't gone in to get it fixed."

Anonymous, NC (2012 Nissan Leaf Unsure Electric)

In-car Electronics

CD or DVD players, radio, speakers, GPS, communication system (e.g., OnStar), display screen freezes or goes blank, phone pairing (e.g. Bluetooth), voice control commands, steering wheel controls, portable music device interface (e.g., iPod/MP3 player), backup or other camera/sensors.

What Owners Say

Phone pairing (e.g., Bluetooth)

"Nissan has not kept up with current technology. Our phone is able to connect to the system, but it does not read texts out loud and the phone is not technically supported by Nissan (Phone is a Samsung Galaxy 7 Edge)"

Jay W., WA (2012 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)
Software update fixes

"The distance start option did not work because I do not have a signal from the right phone carrier in my area. Then it went out of use altogether."

Anonymous, IA (2012 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)

Electric System

Alternator, starter, hybrid battery and related systems, regular battery, battery cables, engine harness, coil, ignition switch, electronic ignition, distributor or rotor failure, spark plugs and wires failure.

What Owners Say

Tire pressure monitor

"TPM system went on the fritz when I attempted to map the tires after they had been rotated by a competent shop. I was using LEAF Spy Pro an after-market monitoring program that allows me to access the Nissan dealer options in the on board computer.Now the tire light is always on. I have a couple of more possible solutions to try before I have to take it to the dealer."

Ed K., NM (2012 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)
Wiper motor or washer

"Washer nozzles have an inadequate spray pattern especially the driver's side that have been replaced once in the last year and adjusted twice in the last year. Works for about a month and then reverts to the sorry spray pattern. Nozzles have been replaced with 'adjustable' new part and these still don't functions. Poor design."

Ed K., NM (2012 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)

Brakes

Antilock system (ABS), parking brake, master cylinder, calipers, rotors, pulsation or vibration, squeaking, brake failure or wear.

What Owners Say

Calipers

"The calipers seized causing noise and premature pad and rotor wear"

Scott V., MA (2012 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)
Premature brake wear

"brakes inconsistently grabby. dealer can't duplicate. previous TSB has been installed successfully but still an unpredictable problem"

Gordon H., WA (2012 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)

Body Integrity

Squeaks, rattles, wind noises, loose or cracked seals and/or weather-stripping, air and water leaks.

What Owners Say

Squeaks or rattles

"Suspension bushing always squeaks in cold weather. Got used to it."

Anonymous, QC (2012 Nissan Leaf SV Electric)

Body Hardware

Power or manual windows, locks and latches, tailgate, hatch or trunk, doors or sliding doors, mirrors, seat controls, safety belts, sunroof, convertible top.

Transmission Minor

Gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, slipping transmission.

Engine Major

Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.

Engine Minor

Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.

Fuel System

Check engine light, sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor), emission control devices (includes EGR), engine computer, engine computer, fuel cap, fuel gauge/sender, fuel injection system, fuel pump, fuel leaks, stalling or hesitation.

Engine Cooling

Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.

Paint/Trim

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling), loose interior and exterior trim or moldings, rust.

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