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.