The Nissan LEAF is well known as one of the oldest electric vehicle models introduced in the US. The LEAF has a reputation for sticking around, too, with some original LEAFs still on the road over a decade after manufacture. But as a LEAF’s battery ages, LEAF owners will find themselves getting less and less usable range per charge.
Sound familiar? If you’ve been experiencing issues with charging or range reduction to the point where you can’t meet your daily driving needs, your LEAF may be ready to make a battery swap.
Fortunately, the LEAF has one of the best EV architectures for swapping out an old battery. Thanks to the LEAF’s fairly consistent battery pack dimensions and design over time, fitting a new pack to an old LEAF is entirely possible.
In today’s article, we’ll look at the steps you can take to get your LEAF’s old battery upgraded, where you can find expert help, and what other options you have when your LEAF no longer gets you as far as you need to go.
But before we can discuss upgrades, we need to mention warranty work…
What Is the Battery Warranty for the Nissan LEAF?
We recommend checking your LEAF’s recall status before starting the warranty process. Approved repairs for safety recall issues should be free of charge regardless of whether or not your LEAF is still within its warranty period (and a maximum of 15 years old). And while we haven’t heard of any recalls that directly affect the battery for any model year of the LEAF, there is a voluntary recall in some areas for bonding plates on the 2011-2019 model battery packs that could potentially make replacement tricky later on.
You can check for open recalls on your LEAF by entering its VIN into the NHTSA’s recall lookup tool.
For (non-recall) warranty battery replacements, Nissan provides two types of coverage for the LEAF battery: coverage for the battery pack components, and coverage for battery pack capacity.
The Lithium-Ion Battery Coverage the Nissan offers is for the actual components of the battery and covers manufacturing defects. This part of the warranty guarantees full battery replacement for these kinds of manufacturing issues for 8 years or 100,000 miles (whichever comes first).
Coverage for the Nissan LEAF’s Battery Capacity concerns the range of the battery and the degradation of the battery cells. For battery packs that either fall below 9 bars (or 70%-75% of the original capacity) or lose a significant amount of range in a short period (e.g., a loss of 5-10% in a few weeks or a couple of months), a full battery replacement may be covered.
Why does this matter in a guide about LEAF high voltage battery upgrades? Well, if your LEAF has fewer than 100,000 miles on it and is less than 8 years old, you may be able to get a degraded or poorly functioning battery replaced by Nissan for free. In some cases, which we’ll look at in the following section, warranty battery replacement for a LEAF can mean receiving a battery upgrade free of charge.
Be sure to check out Nissan’s website for more model and year specific warranty terms and conditions.
Can I Get a Battery Upgrade for the Nissan LEAF?
Because Nissan retained most of the same pack sizing and connections for all model years of the LEAF, you can upgrade many different versions of the LEAF to either a bigger battery or a more effective one of the same size.
Here are the original battery sizes Nissan included in the LEAF from 2011 onward:
- 2011-2017 Nissan LEAF (ZE0 Gen 1): 24 kWh
- 2016 Nissan LEAF: 30 kWh
- 2018-Present Nissan LEAF (ZE1 Gen 2): 40 kWh
- Nissan LEAF PLus (up to 2022): 62 kWh*
- 2023 Nissan LEAF Plus: 60 kWh*
*From what we’ve been able to determine, the 62 kWh pack and the 60 kWh pack are either the same pack with different advertised values based on changes in the EPA test requirements, or the 60 kWh pack’s battery cells have an improved chemistry but a slightly lower rating. Either way, the dimensions of these packs are the same and the range estimates are close enough to treat them as the same pack for upgrades.
For most models with a 24 kWh or 30 kWh packs, you can easily upgrade to a 40kWh pack. Note: the 2011 to early 2012 Nissan LEAF may need extra adapters and/or customized plugs to complete the upgrade.
LEAFS that originally came with a 40 kWh battery pack can upgrade to a 62 kWh pack, but replacement with a more recent 40 kWh pack is typically more cost effective. The weight and the shape of the 62 kWh pack doesn’t fit exactly the same pack profile as previous packs (it is a bit taller), so some modifications are required for the upgrade (these include modified connection points for bolting in the battery pack, new rear springs, and possibly new underbody protective panels as well).
On the flip side, you can also downgrade your LEAF from a 62 kWh pack to a 40 kWh pack if the larger pack has degraded significantly. This move can be worth the range loss since the 40kWh is currently more available and affordable.
A note about warranty replacements: battery replacements that are covered by warranty will include a 40 kWh pack for both the 30 kWh and the 40kWh version of the LEAF. Nissan no longer manufactures the 30 kWh battery pack for the LEAF, so any warranty replacement for a 30 kWh pack ends up being a free upgrade to the 40 kWh pack.
How to Upgrade the Battery in Your Nissan LEAF
Other than a warranty replacement, there are two options for upgrading your LEAF’s battery. You can either choose to source your battery, remove the old one, and install the upgrade yourself, or you can have an expert in LEAF battery upgrades and replacements do it for you.
Let’s look through the processes and advantages (and disadvantages) of each approach:
Option #1: Nissan LEAF Battery Upgrade DIY
Please note: high voltage EV batteries are dangerous; most repair shops require their automotive technicians to undergo special certification or training before performing a battery replacement or upgrade. We do not recommend the DIY route, but we recognize that the LEAF does present a uniquely accessible DIY solution for battery pack replacement and upgrades.
What is the biggest benefit to upgrading your LEAF’s battery pack yourself? Well, you may be able to save yourself a few thousand dollars.
However, there is a chance that a DIY upgrade may end up costing you more than paying for professional help. In a worst case scenario, the pack that you source for your upgrade might be defective or damaged (and LEAF battery packs aren’t cheap). Less expensive to replace but also frustrating are broken plastic parts, corroded bolts and connectors, or damaged underbody panels. And again, let’s not forget that this is a high-voltage system; you really do need extra training and awareness of the risks involved before you mess with it.
If you’ve decided that the risks are worth the potential savings in your bank account, take a look at the following overview of the steps to replacement:
First, you need to assess whether or not you have the right equipment to transport, lower, or lift a Nissan LEAF’s battery pack. Just because the LEAF’s battery is on the smaller side does not mean that it’s lightweight. The 40 kWh battery pack weighs 668 lbs and the 62 kWh pack is somewhere around 900 lbs. That’s equal to or far more than the weight of the average engine in a passenger car, and you’ll need the ability to move the battery packs up and down underneath the car to swap them out.
Removing the old pack will involve the following basic steps:
- Make sure that the LEAF’s key fob is kept away from the vehicle
- Disconnect the 12v battery
- Isolate the battery pack from the rest of the HV system (orange plug located in the back seat floor area).
- Wait at least 30 minutes (or enough time for components in the electronics to discharge)
- Remove the bottom protective panels to expose the battery
- Disconnect the main battery plug and the battery management system plug
- Check for residual voltage
- Remove the remaining battery bolts and lower the battery
You’ll then reverse the process to install the new battery pack:
- Line up the new battery pack and lift it into place
- Bolt the battery to the frame.
- Replace the battery management system plug
- Replace the main battery plug
- Reinstall the bottom protective panels
- Reconnect the HV battery pack to the rest of the HV system
- Reconnect the 12V battery
- Using a pairing device (like this one), you can tell the battery management system (BMS) to recognize the upgraded battery and clear error codes
For directly swapped battery packs, you’ll only need the ability to read and clear codes before the car will let you use the new pack. The Leaf Spy Pro app and an OBD dongle work well for this part of the process.
For an upgraded pack, you’ll also need to install a CAN-bridge before the LEAF will recognize the battery pack. Additionally, for a 2011 Nissan LEAF battery upgrade (or an early 2012 Nissan LEAF battery upgrade), you’ll need a B24 22-36 pin adapter.
For a more in-depth look at the upgrade processes and procedures, be sure to check out Daniel Öster’s (dalathegreat’s) fantastic LEAF upgrade guides on GitHub.
The LEAF definitely has one of the easier battery swap and upgrade processes in the world of EVs, and it is possible to do the whole thing yourself. However, if the idea of finding all the tools and sourcing the battery pack yourself doesn’t appeal, you’ll probably prefer option #2.
Option #2: Find a Nissan LEAF Battery Upgrade Expert
Some of the advantages of hiring an expert in LEAF battery upgrades include:
- Experts already have access to the tools that make a Nissan LEAF battery replacement or upgrade go smoothly and quickly (think forklifts, hydraulic hoists, diagnostic software, etc)
- They will often be able to source battery packs and replacements for corroded/broken parts more efficiently than you could on your own
- They can spot other issues with your LEAF while working on your upgrade that you might not notice yourself
If you are on the hunt for a LEAF upgrade specialist, be sure to check out EV Rides LLC. They offer battery upgrades and onboard charger upgrade installations for the Nissan LEAF at their Portland, Oregon facility. EV Rides sources healthy LEAF batteries and has all the LEAF upgrade experience to make the swap as smooth as possible.
Once you’ve figured out whether you want help from a professional or want to DIY the LEAF upgrade yourself, there are only a few more steps to the process. Let’s take a look:
Don’t Forget to Plan Your Alternate Vehicle
A battery upgrade for the LEAF usually takes about a day, but it pays to plan for hiccups in the process. Any extra replacement parts and sometimes extra cleaning will add to the time that your LEAF is out of commission, so plan your alternate transportation accordingly.
Keep an Eye on the Results
Whether or not you DIY the LEAF’s battery pack replacement or find help from an expert EV technician service, you may want to get a copy of the Leaf Spy app (Pro or Lite) and an OBD dongle (see app details for compatibility issues) to keep an eye on the condition of your battery.
Regardless of which version you use, Leaf Spy should be able to get you a good view of your LEAF battery’s State of Health (SOH), etc. Especially during the first few drives, make sure everything is running smoothly and the pack you’ve installed is charging and holding a charge well.
Ready to Make the Battery Upgrade in Your Nissan LEAF?
For a professional LEAF upgrade service, check out EVRidesLLC.com and see how they can help you swap your old LEAF battery for one that better suits your range needs.
Don’t own a LEAF yet? If you are looking for a LEAF to upgrade, be sure to check out our used Nissan LEAF listings. You can narrow things down by battery pack size and sort by price to help you find a LEAF worthy of your battery upgrade efforts.
Have a LEAF that could use an upgrade, but don’t feel like going through the process? We can handle that, too; register here to start a free or Featured listing or get a Cash Offer from a trusted EV dealer today (pro tip: you can even do both at the same time).
Last but not least, if you are looking to upgrade your range but would rather leave the battery pack upgrade process to a more enthusiastic LEAF enthusiast, check out our massive used EV listings section. From the Mustang Mach-E to the Tesla Model 3, your next new-to-you EV upgrade is waiting!