The Nissan LEAF is not perfect!

LEAF warning lights

Restart problems surface with some owners

By now, it is likely that you have heard of the LEAF’s restart problems. You are driving along, (or you are sitting somewhere with your LEAF powered up) and the red master warning light comes on. The EV system warning light is also illuminated (as indicated above). Oh no! What do you do? It’s no big deal. The car will not shut down and leave you with no power in the middle of the street. But you will have this red master warning light glaring at you on the dash. What should you do? Drive home, park your car where you normally do, and turn the car off. If it restarts – no problem. If it doesn’t – you are home, and you can call the Nissan Roadside Assistance number that is in your 2011 Nissan LEAF Warranty Information Booklet. Tell them that your car will not start, that the master warning light is lit, and that you would like your car towed to the nearest Nissan certified LEAF dealer per the Roadside Assistance Benefits that you purchased when you bought your car. (And yes… you did buy the Roadside Assistance Benefits. They were just included in the price of the car. You should know by now… there is no such thing as a free lunch.) (By the way – props go to my wife for suggesting driving home. I told her to drive to the dealer if it happened, to which she replied “Why can’t I just drive it home and have it towed to the dealer?” She was right! Mrs. Ernie is a very smart woman – only one of the reasons that I married her.)

Nissan has yet to publicly state what the problem is. It very well could be that they don’t know exactly what the problem is, or that in fact, there may be several triggers that cause the problem. The point to keep in mind is that the car is not going to leave you stranded somewhere, unless you choose to let it do so. Granted – you may not be able to complete the errand that you were on. But it is highly likely that you will be within range of your home (or perhaps the dealership, should you choose to take it there) if the red master warning light does in fact come on. One of the talking heads on the news said something along the lines of “What happens if you turn it off in an unsafe area?” To which we reply (everyone!) – “Don’t turn it off in an unsafe area!”

Our recommendation is to continue driving as you normally do. We are. This issue does seem to be affecting a relatively small percentage of owners thus far. If you have an absolutely crucial errand to run, if you have other means of transport, and you are not totally comfortable relying on your LEAF, drive your other vehicle. But we are using our vehicle normally, and periodically (if not consistently) using the climate control with no issues. Once Nissan determines a fix, it will likely be addressed the way most manufacturers deal with issues such as this – if you have a problem, they will take care of it. If you don’t have a problem – they will apply any updates necessary to potentially avoid any future problems when you take your car in for routine service.

This entry was posted in Driving Experience, Is the Nissan LEAF right for me?, LEAF 101, LEAF Information, LEAF Ownership. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to The Nissan LEAF is not perfect!

  1. stanley says:

    Did your Leaf restart on its own or was it towed to the dealer? Have you had the Leaf “fixed”. if so, what did the dealer do to it?

    • Ernie Hernandez (LEAFguy) says:

      stanley – this problem has not happened to us. I have read of it happening to others, which is what led to this article. After writing, and having additional time to think on it, I realize that some may be heading to work, or doing something other than just running errands. This led me to research the Nissan Roadside Assistance Benefits, which will be the subject of my next article. I stand by my recommendation of going home, if one has that option available to them, and having the car towed to the dealer from there. At least you are home and safe, and not waiting somewhere waiting for a tow truck to arrive. If heading to work perhaps continue to work. You can arrange to have the LEAF towed to the dealership over lunch if need be. See my next article for more info.

  2. Pingback: Nissan speaks — Living LEAF

  3. John P says:

    Before starting my Leaf, I get a red car icon in the lower left portion of the dash. The icon blinks three times as it moves from left to right and then stops blinking. The car starts fine and runs fine. Do you have any idea what this means? In looking at the owner’s manual, it doesn’t address the red car, jut the yellow warning light.



    • Ernie Hernandez (LEAFguy) says:

      John – I believe that you are referring to the Vehicle Security System icon. When the vehicle is off, the security system is an alarm that will flash the lights and honk the horn if your LEAF is tampered with. Check your owner’s manual under the topic Vehicle Security System.

  4. John P says:

    Thanks for your advice Ernie.
    The car is unlocked as I am entering the vehicle. The horn doesn’t beep nor the light flash as I am getting into the car. The only thing that happens is a red car icon appears and “moves” from left to right, flashing 3 times before going out.
    I am about due to take the car in for its 2 ½ year service so I’ll make sure the dealer takes a look at what is going on along with any software updates.

  5. Pico says:

    Just had a small problem with our 10 day old 2014 Leaf S, of course it was my wife who had the problem (this woman has problems with anything that has an electrical cord :p ) , she wanted to check her range before commuting to work, which is a 61 mile round trip. With the car still hooked up to the charger, she turns the car on, I have done this myself and gets the reading of 81 miles, then tries to turn of the car and gets the red triangle warning light and yellow triangle warning light and an RS idiot light. I’m not sure what happened next, I suspect she repeatedly hit the ON button in an attempt to turn the car off, the car is still plugged into the charger. So I unplugged the car while it was ON and she managed to turn it off, then turn it back on the warning lights are no longer are on, and the RS light is off. I have no idea what the RS light means, I am guessing RESTART? Any ideas?

    • Ernie Hernandez says:

      Pico – Welcome to Living LEAF. With the power cord plugged in the LEAF will not turn on – which I learned myself when too eagerly trying to show off our first LEAF to a neighbor (which happened to buy a LEAF also). Nissan does not want you to drive off with the car plugged in. If you hit the start button without your foot on the brake you can read the range, etc, as you have entered the accessory mode, even with the car still plugged in. The second time that she hit the start button she probably had her foot on the brake, which caused the warning lights to illuminate, as she was trying to start the car while plugged in – which the car will not allow. Once confused, it is easy to just try various things until one remembers to unplug the car – upon which time everything goes back to normal. As regards the RS light – I just scanned the Owner’s Manual online and did not find any reference to an RS light. The closest I saw was a PS indicator (Power Steering), which may have illuminated during the button fest. I’ll ask around and see if I can find out anything more about an RS indicator. My guess is that when you unplugged the car it was in the accessory mode. Your wife turned it off with a push of the button, and then it started normally as it was no longer plugged in. I’m glad your issue was resolved by simply unplugging your car.

      On a side note, with a 61 mile round trip commute, I would advise your wife to locate charge points along her route to and from work just in case the need arises. I also highly recommend that you both read my article in the sidebar entitled Very Low Battery Warning research. That may help you both feel more comfortable when you inevitably run the car down to its last bar. Enjoy your LEAF!

  6. Dimuthu says:

    Red color car on dash board when it is parking status. It’s blinking.

    • Ernie Hernandez says:

      Dimuthu – Welcome to Living LEAF. Sorry about the delayed response, I was traveling and had limited access to my blog. I assume that you are talking about the car-shaped icon with a key in it. This is the LEAF’s security indicator light. This light blinks when the power switch is in the ACC, OFF or LOCK position and indicates proper functioning of the vehicle’s security system. You can read more in the Instruments and controls section of your owner’s manual.

  7. deshan says:

    After a rapid charging indicates a persistant yellow car mark and it does not charge by slow charger.

    • Ernie Hernandez says:

      deshan – Welcome to Living LEAF. If you are talking about the yellow light with an exclamation point in it, this indicates a problem with the EV system. My recommendation is that you take your LEAF in to the nearest certified Nissan LEAF dealer.

  8. Judith Hurst says:

    Just bought a 2016 leaf – these yellow and red triangles have been almost constantly since buying the car (only 3 days so far but still …) Also my car “beeps” when i go from stopping (at a red light, etc) to accelerating. I’m new to electric cars, so it didnt bother me much. Then I looked up the triangle warning lights and got nervous there might be something wrong! Called the dealer — will bring back in for a check soon i guess.

    • Ernie Hernandez says:

      Judith – Welcome to Living LEAF. The triangles with little exclamation points in them are warning lights. Under normal circumstances none should be lit. Take you car in to the service department and have them take a look at it.

  9. Ilham says:

    My leaf is not getting charge there is a symbol of a car with a explanation mark ( ! ) it is in orange color my car is not getting charge why is that

    • Ernie Hernandez says:

      ilham – Welcome to Living LEAF. The light that you describe is a warning light. I suggest you take it in to a dealership service department so they can check it out.

  10. Cameron Blatter says:

    My FIRST day driving my new 2017 Leaf and the red warning light came on! Unbelievable. The car runs fine so I hope there is a firmware fix for this on triggering the light too quickly. Is there a way to reset it so I can see if it is repeatable? Service department is closed today.

    • Ernie Hernandez says:

      Cameron – Welcome to Living LEAF. By now you’ve likely had an opportunity to take your LEAF in to the Nissan dealership. There are a multitude of reasons why the warning light could have come on and the dealership can best resolve the issue. Best of luck.

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