Extended warranty for the LEAF?

by Ernie Hernandez on May 24, 2011

Dollar Sign

Probably not

In response to a reader comment, we thought that we would address this topic, as there are many different approaches to the thought process. Keep in mind, these are just our thoughts. Others may disagree for various reasons.

As a rule, I am against extended warranties of any kind – home electronics, appliances, automobiles, you name it. Keep in mind that an extended warranty (as opposed to an original warranty) is essentially an insurance policy. (Have you seen the headquarters offices of insurance companies?) Recently I have rethought this position in one area – mobile phones. My wife and I have together gone through replacing four mobile phones over the past four years due to accidental damage. Because of their constant use and exposure to accidental damage, this is probably the only area that I would recommend anything beyond the manufacturer’s warranty. I do recall that many years ago I did buy an extended warranty on a vehicle (only because I could get it at cost), and it did not pay off, even at its reduced price.

In the case of the LEAF, I believe it is even less necessary due to the design of the vehicle. An AC synchronous electric motor (such as that used in the LEAF) essentially just has two moving parts – the stator and the rotor. Throw in a couple bearings, and that’s about it. I don’t even want to try counting how many moving parts are in a contemporary internal combustion engine (ICE). In addition, brakes will get less wear and tear due to the regeneration offered by the electric drivetrain, and that is another source of reduced potential cost.

The flip side is the infamous “first year” reputation. “Never buy the first year production of anything!” we often hear from well meaning friends. Why not? Our current back-up vehicle is the first year production of the previous generation Nissan Quest – 2004. It currently has over 90,000 miles on it and has had no out of warranty repair work done. There were some early recalls, which Nissan took care of quickly and without undue distress to our household. “Aha…” say the naysayers. “We told you so!”

A quick look at the Federal Government’s recall website shows that as of today, just this month there have been 28 motor vehicle recalls for vehicles of all types – cars, trucks and motorcycles. Only one that we saw – the 2012 Honda Civic – happened to be the first year of production of a significant model change, or an all new model. Manufacturer’s experience recalls all the time, for all sorts of reasons. Many of these vehicles have been in production for many years. Suppliers change. Real world demands are more rigorous than the carefully calibrated computer simulations. The reasons are endless. Stuff happens.

So, in a nutshell, would we buy an extended warranty on the LEAF? No. We did buy the car, we did not lease it. And we did not buy the extended warranty, for all of the reasons stated above. But with a decision like this, your peace of mind is what matters most. If you do choose to purchase an extended warranty, carefully read the terms. It is highly unlikely that you will find any battery warranty coverage, and as we all have learned by now, that is the biggest question mark.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Twohy May 25, 2011 at 9:58 am

Dear Ernie,

Thank you sooo much for your thoughts! I feel better about not purchasing the warranty especially considering the possibility of recalls covering many issues that could possibly come up with the vehicle but probably will not. My deale,r Mossy will only sell platinum plans so the cost would be more expensive that the silver or gold plans. Thanks again for your wisdom and expierence in this area.

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Ernie Hernandez (LEAFguy) May 25, 2011 at 10:25 pm

Frank, I’m glad that I could be of help.

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John P May 25, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Ernie,
When I picked up my LEAF at the end of April, the finance guy tried a full court press to convince me to buy the extended warranty. He said he always felt the warranty was a waste of money, but in the case of the LEAF (being new technology and you never know what can go wrong) it would be in MY best interested to buy it. The warranty also provides a refund at the end of the term minus any fees and other expenses (never got to ask him what that meant).
Like you, I purchased the LEAF. I have always maintained my previous vehicles and got a lot of years/ miles out of them before getting a new car. I do plan on charging the LEAF at 80% and following the maintenance schedule. I find the $2,600 warranty ridiculous and a real turn off in what was otherwise an enjoyable purchasing experience.
John

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Ernie Hernandez (LEAFguy) May 25, 2011 at 10:25 pm

John – thanks for your comments. As I never even considered the extended warranty, I didn’t know how much it would be. Careful maintenance (and with the LEAF, even regular required maintenance is reduced), I truly expect the LEAF to do well. Good luck!

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joel September 25, 2011 at 1:23 pm

I also got the sales pitch for the extended warranty, and turned it down.
Now, a month later, I am having second thoughts. Here is why:
I plan to keep the Leaf for a long time (I usually keep cars for 12+ years)

It is not the electric motor that I worry about, it’s everything else.
1. The navigation system – Example: It is a stretch to expect a touch screen/LCD to last 8+ years
in an automotive environment. Nobody knows how these will hold up.
I suspect that replacement of this will cost most of the warranty price.
2. The cooling system – water pump seals will probably not last.
3. air conditioner, electric steering, and other power accessories
4. electrical systems – e.g.: keyless entry system, wipers.

However, the BIG risk, the batteries. The Nissan warranty spelled out in the warranty manual
is very limited. Talks about defects in workmanship. I did not see anything about maintaining
capacity. We know that they will degrade over time, (thus limiting the driving range), but
how much degradation is acceptable? When I see a warranty that covers battery capacity,
then I will be interested.
(BTW, battery prices are likely to fall, but probably not much for the batteries in the current model of the Leaf, newer models will likely have improved batteries and different controllers, and not likely be upgradeable.)

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Ernie Hernandez (LEAFguy) September 25, 2011 at 9:36 pm

joel – welcome to Living LEAF.

As you mention, the big risk is the battery pack. But the battery is modular, and module level replacement is possible for individual bad cells that might arise. Also, I would venture that there is no battery degradation warranty to be offered by any carmaker for a very long time (if ever). They will need to get a data benchmark prior to considering such an offering.

Nissan (and others) have used touch screen navigation systems for quite some time now. In fact, many portable systems have been touch screen as well. We haven’t seen high failure rates on these systems (assuming reasonable care in use). You could probably look to some of the high-line manufacturers to evaluate repair statistics. The only other item of significant cost on your list would be the air conditioning system. While that would be expensive, you need to determine for yourself if the potential failure is worth the current outlay for an extended warranty.

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John July 26, 2015 at 6:27 pm

Hello Folks,

I just bought a Nissan Leaf, with the 72 month/100,000 service warranty as an addition. Now I’m having second thoughts because in reality am paying this extra premium for the coverage between 3 year/36,000 miles to the 72month/100k window. Wondering if I made a mistake purchasing this. I’m thinking of canceling this but I think I have to pay $25 + 10% of the service warranty package as a penalty. Wondering if I should go ahead and cancel at this point or do you feel this extended service warranty is really worth it based on known issues with this car? please advise.

John

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Ernie Hernandez August 1, 2015 at 4:50 pm

John – Welcome to Living LEAF. Without knowing your vehicle use, maintenance routines, or specific driving situation, all I can provide is some general guidance. Electric cars in general have a lower need for maintenance and repair than do internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. According to Consumer Reports more than half of extended warranty owners never used the plan during the life of the warranty. Also, many of the items covered under these plans do not exist on the LEAF. The most expensive drivetrain item on the LEAF, the traction battery, would not be covered by the extended warranty unless specifically stated. If you are concerned about future repair costs, perhaps you could contribute a small amount to a savings account toward that end. If no repairs are needed, you now have funds that you might use elsewhere. I hope that helps.

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Sergio December 17, 2015 at 12:52 pm

The question here is if the extended warranty will cover the battery pack that as of now it costs $5500 to replace it. Of course the jackals at the dealership will offer a lot of extra things on the sale because they get a commission.

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Ernie Hernandez December 17, 2015 at 1:02 pm

Sergio – Welcome to Living LEAF. The only warranty that covers battery replacement is the battery capacity warranty. No extended warranty will cover the traction battery replacement.

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Fan December 20, 2015 at 10:34 pm

Hi,

Very glad to join your discussion. As John, I bought a 2013 Leaf last week and I was told: there’s a “main computer” who controls everything on the Leaf, if one day it fails, your leaf become a brick. It will cost $12,000 and it’s not covered either in the powertrain nor in the EV system (both of 5 yrs warranty by Nissan)… I was scared and paid a $2200 for 5 yrs bump to bump warranty.
But I doubt if that’s true? I’d like to find out what are covered by Nissan and what kind of extended warranty I’d better to have for the vital parts. Could you give me an idea where can I find those info pls?
Thanks a lot!

Fan

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Ernie Hernandez December 22, 2015 at 7:13 pm

Fan – welcome to Living LEAF. The LEAF, like all modern cars, has many computers on board. None cost $12,000 to replace. The standard Nissan EV system warranty coverage is 60 months/60,000 miles. Any computers involved with the drivetrain would be included in this warranty. If you did not receive the owner’s manuals with your car, you may access them at nissanusa.com. Select Owners from the top navigation menu, select Manuals and Guides, then enter LEAF as your model, and 2013 for the year. All of the manuals are available online, including the original warranty manuals.

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Barry Levine June 18, 2016 at 5:47 am

Useful discussion. I’ve been looking at the 2016 Leaf SV (I like the longer range and the fast charge port), and am considering whether an extended warranty is worth it. Neither Nissan nor Warranty Group (the dealer’s suggestion) actually provide an actual detailed list of what’s covered. For example, I’ve been unable to learn whether any of Nissan’s plans cover the actual GPS system.
There’s not much online found (thus far) about owners complaining about failures that would make the extended warranty worthwhile, nor whether these plans live up to their promises when needed.
The original warranty manuals on nissanusa.com don’t give much details either. Apart from the drive train etc, it seems to me that there’s an awful lot of electronic stuff that could brick a Leaf if it failed.

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Ernie Hernandez June 18, 2016 at 8:38 am

Barry – Welcome to Living LEAF. Cars today, but especially electric cars, are computers on wheels. And you’re right… most of these warranty documents are not easy to read. Just so you know, the GPS system is covered for 3 years or 36,000 miles under the basic warranty. This is the pertinent language in the 2016 LEAF Warranty Information Booklet, found on Page 7:

BASIC COVERAGE

The basic coverage period is 36 months/36,000 miles, whichever comes first.

This warranty covers any repairs needed to correct defects in materials or workmanship of all parts and components of each new Nissan vehicle supplied by Nissan subject to the exclusions listed under the heading WHATS NOT COVERED” or, if the part is covered by one of the separate coverages described in the following sections of this warranty, that specific coverage applies instead of the basic coverage.

I’ve bolded the relevant wording. All of the “electronic stuff” that you refer to falls under the 3/36 warranty, unless it is specifically related to the powertrain, then the warranty becomes 5 years/60,000 miles. Page 9 details what is not covered. All of Nissan’s Owner’s Manuals are available online at nissanusa.com. In one of my earlier replies I noted that Consumer Reports stated that more than half of extended warranty owners never used the plan during the life of the warranty. I’ve also recommended taking that amount that the warranty would cost and put it in a savings or investment account. In the end, it is your peace of mind that will make the determination for you. One final note – the 30 kWh battery on the SV has an 8 year/100,000 mile battery capacity warranty. Good luck!

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ALBERT May 11, 2019 at 10:06 pm

I literally just bought my first Leaf yesterday. It’s a 2017 S model, an apparent two-year lease that was just turned in, pre-certified by a Nissan dealer, and put up for sale. I really knew nothing about warranties and so was caught off guard when it was suggested. The offered me 7 years or 100,000 miles for $1800, and a zero deductible, too. I agreed, but after researching it more and talking to people who knew their stuff, after sleeping on it, considered cancelling it. Well, I learned the potential value of it, but wanted a better deal on the price or terms. Ultimately, if they gave me one more year or 120,000 miles, I would have been satisfied. Apparently, that level of coverage is not available for the Nissan Leaf? That’s what I was told. But during the same conversation, I was told that it’s value, for another year, would be $300 more. Since it started when the car was first bought 2 years ago, I do have five more years and up to 100,000 miles (it only has about 14,000 miles plus right now), but a sixth year would be good. In the end, I was told that the dealership sold me the warranty for cost, usually it would have cost $2700, and so I had gotten a great deal. In the end, most everything they said (except the no 8 years, but that it’s value would be another $300) seemed to make sense, and I could accept it. My point is, that warranties are seen by some as good, and others, not worth it. One observation, that’s been noted here in this forum, is that more than half with warranties never used them . . . which means less than half did, right? It’s a gamble, of course, whether or not they will be used, but in terms of personal financial risk management perhaps a good thing to do, if the price and terms are right. I don’t know if my comments here help anyone, but it does highlight the conflicted nature of warranties for people, so if that’s you, then you’re not alone.

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Ernie Hernandez May 12, 2019 at 2:59 pm

Albert – welcome to Living LEAF. Extended warranty purchase is always a unique decision. Your comment regarding risk management is spot on. What is the risk of air conditioning failure? Or power windows? What would the cost of repair be if they fail? If it helps you sleep better at night, it was a worthwhile purchase. Others are willing to invest that purchase amount and if it’s not needed for repairs, use the gain to reward themselves when they sell the car. All the best.

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