Air Quality

Published on May 27th, 2016 | by Cynthia Shahan

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Problems With The 2015 Nissan LEAF: Little Things About The LEAF That Should Change

May 27th, 2016 by  

There are many problems with cars. EVs are not exempt from some of these, as well as some of their own. I wonder about batteries, and I assume most people wonder about batteries, but that’s not the focus of this piece. Problems I have noticed with the 2015 Nissan LEAF I am reviewing on a long-term basis (some of which are perhaps aggravated by hot Florida weather) are:

Nissan LEAF interior

  1. New car smell. Yes, the LEAF I drive still has this condition after 7 months. It is toxic, causes headaches, and is not pleasant. I cannot make a comparison to an electric BMW i3 (with recycled materials), as I have only test driven the BMW i3.
  2. Plastic pieces that break very easily are another unsustainable problem in the LEAF.
  3. It is not an autopilot-enabled EV yet.
  4. “Child-safety” doors. I’m not a fan of child-safety doors that lock kids in the backseat. I think it is safer for kids (and adults) to be able to open the doors if needed.
  5. It is very difficult to vacuum it completely or well. It’s hard to fully get under the seats and into various corners under there. A slightly more open design under the seats would be helpful with this.
  6. The charging port plug sometimes gets stuck. This has happened once when the salesperson or another employee at Nissan kept telling me that I did not unlock it. I had. He was wrong. They then had trouble getting it to disconnect as well.
  7. The navigation system is okay, but not great. It only gets one in the general vicinity of charging stations — not directly in front of them.

Related Stories:

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“Yes, This Is Definitely The Future… Gonna Be A Worldwide

BMW Is A Thoughtful Automaker — Comparing BMW i3 With Nissan LEAF

The Questions People Ask About The Nissan LEAF At A Charging Station

Caution: Things To Notice When Adjusting To An Electric Vehicle

That 5-Hour Nissan LEAF Trip

8 Ways Life Has Changed Since Driving An All-Electric Car

Images by Cynthia Shahan


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About the Author

is a Mother, an Organic Farmer, Licensed Acupuncturist, Anthropology Studies, and mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings who have lit the way for me for decades.



  • Scott Sanford

    This may be the most useless car review I have read in the past 40 years. Autopilot? And what is that photo supposed to show?

    • Calamity_Jean

      The inside of the open hatchback, maybe?

    • emc256

      to all sarcastic and contemptuous commenters, sarcasm and contempt are easy to identify and remove before hitting the ‘post’ button. I am hoping to see more women commenters and sarc/contempt will guarantee this site remains a boys club (boring, s/he said with some sarcasm/contempt). perhaps mild sarcasm is unavoidable, but no contempt is needed. Criticism can be crafted easily without it.

      • Scott Sanford

        I didn’t mention gender. And what does autopilot have to do with reviewing a Nissan LEAF? Is this review comparing the LEAF to a Tesla model S? They are not even in the same price class. A Toyota Yaris doesn’t have many of the advanced safety features of an S class Mercedes either. Should it for 1/6th the price?

  • John Smith

    Picky…picky…I love my 2015 Leaf…all vehicles aren’t perfect but this beats the pants off of my last ICE vehicle….Additional range is my only gripe but the new design is going to address that and I am going to be first in line to get one….

  • Dan Hue

    I like adaptive cruise control and crash avoidance systems. But auto-pilot? Hell no. It will take some serious road re-designing and re-building to make it safe enough.

  • NRG4All

    The plastic “buttons” that hold up the back window shelf are a joke. Children, dogs and packages going over a bump can all break off those scrawny little buttons. If they can’t beef that up, I would suggest that they just provide a window shade attached to the back window. Having a shelf just naturally suggests that it is just that, a shelf, that things can rest on.

  • The Nav system is just so so as you say.

    For navigation I use Waze, it routes you around traffic dynamically, warns of police traps, warns you if you are speeding. Better in many respects.

    For finding charging stations I use Plugshare. It will use your phones navigation to get you there. Plugshare has a reliability rating system so you can avoid stations that are broken or often unavailable. Plugshare also has photos of the stations and often quite detailed directions to help locate where on a property they are located.

  • RobSez

    I haven’t had any issues with parts breaking, or smell but you are right about vacuuming & child locks. I did have a similar problem with the charge port lock a couple times. I figured out that it only happened when I started the car before disengaging the lock. If I unlock, unplug, then start I have no problem. Definitely an annoying bug though.

  • GearsOfWoe

    #7 Yes, very irritating that the map sometimes shows only an approximate location of a charger. Then I drive around the mall a couple of times looking for the darned thing. However, once I use the charger, the GPS map will update to show its exact location.

    My minor complaint is having to press the door handle button 1,2,3 times to open the driver, passenger and rear doors. Either I press too few, too many or the whole sequence gets screwed up when my wife opens the passenger door. Then I jab away instead of just using the key fob. Is there some reason why it doesn’t just unlock all the doors at once?

  • lad76

    When you build an EV off the lowest price ICEV chassis, you carry over problems. The worse problem on the Leaf is Nissan doesn’t offer range battery upgrades for the older models. Not the EV to buy and be proud of…just a car to rent and forget.

    • Good point. Am sure that would have made the list if we had remembered about it.

  • JR250

    Hi! I’m going to disagree with some in your list:

    1. Smell. Never noticed it. I did take it for a detailing about 2 months ago and they put the skunkiest, muskiest “freshener” I have ever experienced. Pretty terrible smell.

    2. Plastic pieces that break? Where?

    3. Not autopilot yet. Well, the 2015 Leaf will never become autopilot. That feature is not there. Maybe some future version. I may be missing something with this one.

    4. Child-safety locks. My kids are older now so the locks are disabled. You can disable them, hope you’re aware of that.

    5. Difficult to vacuum. I haven’t had an issue with this, and I sometimes ride my industrial strength, hair producing machine that is my golden retriever. I simply roll the seats all the way forward and the floor under them is easy to reach.

    6. Charge port stuck. Never had this issue, either. In fact, I was in awe the other day how I now can open the charge port lock, cover, seal inside and plug it in with a single hand. I’m going to miss how convenient it is to have the charging port in the front when I switch to a Model 3.

    7. Navigator system just ok. Other than being static and potentially outdated by up to 2 or 3 years, I think this is one of the best navigation systems I have seen. It has all the features I’ve been, for years, suggesting Google to add to their Maps app:
    A) A big button that would repeat the last direction – can’t tell you how many times I’ve missed it while talking to someone in the car.
    B) An indication of exactly when to turn. Nissan’s has a “ding!” sound that leaves no doubt of that.
    C) Pop-up and highlight the next direction as you’re approaching it, then go back to full screen map
    D) Easy options to take shortest route, avoid highways, etc.

  • TS2000

    Really don’t understand why complain these? All new cars pretty much have the same thing, why single out Leaf? Absolutely make no sense.

  • James

    5. It is very difficult to vacuum it completely or well. It’s hard to fully get under the seats and into various corners under there. A slightly more open design under the seats would be helpful with this.

    In my Leaf there is no “under the seats.” This is great as things cannot get stuck down there.

    Many of the other complaints are just petty or odd. I hate to say it, but this article was just not worth publishing.

  • Deep Time

    Seems like #3 and #6 are the only ones specific to it being an EV.

    On my vehicles I can enable/disable the child door locks – there’s a switch near where the door latch is. I’m shocked the LEAF doesn’t have one.

    Also, I’ve never had a vehicle where it was easy to vacuum under the seats.

    I would have expected the #1 change to be to make the car look a lot less like Jar Jar Binks 🙂

    • Brent Jatko

      Yeah, I think there’d be a deactivation switch like almost every other car in the known universe (are there cars that don’t have this feature?), but you never know.

      • Andy

        Yep, there is.

  • Ross

    Can’t the rear door child safety lock be deactivated? I’m looking at the manual and it says it can.

    • Yes. It’s like any other car.

  • Andy

    Other problems (on S trim, anyway):

    The infotainment system is ancient junk and doesn’t work with Android. No reason a car sold in 2015 should have a dedicated “iPod” button.

    AC isn’t fully shut down if you have the AC on when you turn off HVAC.

    HVAC blows air in your face when interior reaches set temp, even if you have it set for floor vents only.

    Battery percentage UI component fails at 5% remaining. GOM fails before this but you shouldn’t be using the GOM anyway.

    Paint chips easily (more of a Nissan problem).

  • sault

    Have you made a list of positives on the LEAF yet?

  • Garrick Staples

    Can i downvote articles? This list is just silly.

    • TS2000

      I upvote your comment

    • omar

      remember she said small things, these rhings ara hard to puck up now as any EV user already have busy brain by other hot EV problems like range and recharge time…

    • Michael B

      Yes… omg, someone alert the media. 😉

  • jonesey

    1,3,4,5, and 7 are true of almost every new car, not just the Leaf.

    • cynthia Irene

      I know.

  • JamesWimberley

    What is your evidence that child safety locks on rear doors are a bad idea? The chances are much, much higher than your bored child will fiddle with the door handle and open the door in motion than that he or she will be trapped in the car by an accident that also incapacitates the driver and starts a fire. Your fears are not a good guide to objective risks. (Domestic swimming pools are much more dangerous than paedophiles.) Besides, child safety locks are always set by the driver, nobody is forced to use them. Please engage System 2 brain!

    • cynthia Irene

      Reports of many child suffocations in the heat of Florida. Unless the news casts were misinformed or lying.

      • cynthia Irene

        I such brutal suffocation is too many.

        • JamesWimberley

          So is one child killed after falling out of a car through an opened door. It’s a matter of relative risks.

      • JamesWimberley

        That’s an argument for not locking the windows, not making it easy for kids to open the doors.

      • I think the point to realize is that child locks are optionally activated. If the owner doesn’t like the locks, simply defeat them with the switch.

        Child locks only work on the back seats. Its not possible to get locked in in an emergency. Simply exit via the front doors. KIds will have no problem clambering into the front.

        • Calamity_Jean

          “Kids will have no problem clambering into the front.”

          That depends on how old they are and whether they can unfasten the straps on their carseats.

    • cynthia Irene

      As far as paedophiles go. I was almost kidnapped at young ages twice. And more. Tell me about your experience with avoiding kidnaping at a young age.

      • omar

        if you want to not be kidnapped you must apreciate kids safety lock feature

      • harisA

        I think you are misunderstanding how kid safety locks work. They ensure that the doors cannot be opened from INSIDE. Unless the pedophile is in the car with the child, safety locks will not help with the kidnapping.

        • Deep Time

          Bingo.

    • cynthia Irene

      There is more data I could give. But we are trying to stay positive at CT

    • harisA

      Pardon my ignorance but what is “System 2” brain.

      • JamesWimberley

        Read Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking Fast and Slow” or at leadt get the gust from Wikipedia. It’s accessible and good fun, in a demanding way. He was rightly given the Nobel Prize in economics for his work with Amos Tversky, who could not share it because he’s dead.

        • harisA

          Thanks. I will read up.

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