Just the Brakes

 

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In the fall of 2015 I noticed the Leaf’s brakes acting unusual at low speeds.  As I was slowing down at speeds below 30 mph the brakes would grab and slow the car in an inconsistent manner.  It was as if there was a sticky substance on the brake rotors causing them to grab intermittently and very briefly, slowing the rotation of the brake rotors making for an uncomfortable ride.  This problem came and went at random- the only factors that were consistent were;

it always happened at speeds below 30 mph

it was more frequent in cold or wet weather

it was always random

When the issue first started I promptly called Jennifer in the service department of Anderson Nissan in Asheville, NC where I regularly have my car serviced, to get the issue investigated…unfortunately, she informed me that the service department was closed for a day or so while they were having their floors resurfaced so my only option was to take the Leaf to the Hunter Nissan service department in nearby Hendersonville, NC for the check up.  Upon arrival at Hunter I dropped my Leaf off in the service department and browsed the lot while I waited for a report.

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My Leaf at Hunter waiting to be checked out…it is very dirty due to the constant rains associated with the powerful 2015-16 ElNino

Soon, I found myself checking out the details of an NV200 small cargo van and shortly thereafter a wonderful sales associate ( I wish I could remember his name) introduced himself and we were off taking a test drive in the NV200.

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The test drive and conversation with the salesman was wonderful but obviously I had no intention on buying an NV200 because it is powered by the wrong fuel for my needs…gasoline.

12190057_10207024051892475_5148828535035350589_n The reason I test drove it was to try to get an idea what the electric version of this small van might be like to drive.   Th electric version is the eNV200 and it is powered by the very same battery-electric drive-train found in the Leaf.  My test drive was wonderful, with the NV200 driving surprisingly well for a small van…it really felt like I was driving a car.  However, I do not believe it is a good comparison with the eNV200 because truthfully, from my point of view as an EV owner – it was noisy, vibrated, and smelled a bit odd.  Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking down the NV200 at all, it is a very capable vehicle and all those things I mentioned are status quo for gas powered vehicles.  In my defense I suppose I am a bit more sensitive to these things because I have been driving electric almost every day now for 2.5 years so I guess you could say I’m a bit biased since my conversion to the wonderful all electric Nissan Leaf.  In fact, thanks to Nissan who is leading the way in the world of electric vehicles, I’m a total convert to driving electric.  So much so in fact that I will eventually divest from gasoline totally and the path to make that happen for me is the eNV200.  If Nissan ever decides to bring it to the USA I will be the first to own one and will use it as the company vehicle in my nonprofit wildlife rehabilitation and conservation and renewable energy education organization Earthshine Nature Programs.  I’m sure the eNV200 is an even capable vehicle than the NV200 due to its lower center of gravity, higher low end torque, virtually silent drive-train, and much lower operating costs.

eNV200

Sadly however, the game changing all electric version of this wonderful small van is currently only available in Europe and Japan and there is no word from Nissan when or if they have plans to bring it to the USA.

I feel so passionate about this vehicle becoming a reality in the USA that I recently authored a blog post on this amazing van and how I believe Nissan should get to work on bringing it to the USA as soon as possible.  In my opinion, if they do not, they are missing out on a really great opportunity found in the thousands of large and small business owners, Uber, Lyft and taxi drivers that would jump at the chance to lower their overhead, make a difference, and drive clean, green, EV vans on their daily routes in cities, towns, and in the countryside of the USA.

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Maybe one day soon, Nissan will decide to bring the eNV200 to the USA and offer it for sale alongside the best selling EV on the planet –

the 100% electric, zero emission Nissan Leaf.

Until that time I will continue to drive my Leaf and love every gas free mile.

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Charging up at a BrightfieldTS solar charging station in Asheville, NC. 

After the test drive I had a nice chat with some of the Nissan employees about the eNV200, Leaf, IDS concept and the future of EV’s in general.

Then I received the message that my car was ready and I was told that they could not duplicate the problem…interesting?

I knew the problem was there because I had experienced it but Nissan’s own service technicians could not find any issues…and apparently their diagnostics did not reveal any issues either…reminds me of when you finally get in to see the doctor…and the symptoms are gone.  Murphy’s law.

I drove off the lot a bit frustrated with the situation but since there was nothing I could do about it I went on with my day.

A few weeks later I found myself in Asheville, NC pulling up to a CHAdeMO DCQC to grab a charge when out of the blue the car exhibited the odd braking symptoms again!  This time I was ready for it and had installed a LeafSpy Pro app on my smartphone coupled with a Konnwei KW902 OBDII Bluetooth adapter (read more about it on the Electric Vehicle Wiki.) This device allows me to monitor the Leaf’s systems at a glance and, at the push of a button, scan all of the car’s systems for error codes (see below photo for an example of how LeafSpy Pro reads Diagnostic Trouble Codes. Note, these codes are not from my car, I found this photo on the LeafSpyPro app page in the Google Play Store.)

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As soon as the Leaf’s brakes started acting up I rolled to a stop and hit the Leaf Spy only to discover all systems were green and operating perfectly – save for the BCM that was throwing out an error code.  I promptly called Anderson Nissan and informed Jennifer of the issue.  She said that I should get the Leaf to her ASAP.  I agreed with her because as I see it – if there is a both a physically detectable and technologically documented problem in the braking system of you car, putting things off is never a safe option.

I was only about 5 miles from Anderson Nissan so off I went and soon I was rolling through the big bay doors and onto the beautiful, newly finished service room floor.  Jennifer was there to greet me and after she gathered the required information she informed me that the 3 year/36k mile basic warranty on the car had expired within the last few days and that the braking system was no longer covered by the warranty…bummer.

She said however that since I had documented the problem almost two months before and had been a loyal customer of the Anderson Nissan Service Department since I had purchased the Leaf, that she would contact corporate and see about getting the part covered in “good faith” but the only catch was that it may take several days to get an answer from Nissan HQ.  I had no issues with waiting because Jennifer and team quickly had me a loaner car – the pretty, new Nissan Altima in the photo below.

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I drove off leaving the Leaf behind thinking I would see it again in a few days…but that was not the case because Mr. Murphy is always ready and waiting to pull out his law and make life a bit more complicated for us all.

A few days later I spoke with Jennifer and learned that Nissan had agreed to cover the cost of the brake master cylinder and booster assembly as well as the Intelligent Brake Control Module (IBCM) under a good faith agreement.  The only cost to me was going to be for the use of the loaner car that had now become a rental.  This was great news to me especially when I found out the cost of the OEM components would have been $2000!!  Ouch!!

THANK YOU NISSAN and THANK YOU JENNIFER!!  

Later, I did some quick research online and found a used OEM unit for $265 which I would have opted for had Nissan not been able to cover the parts under warranty.  I’m a teacher and do it yourself mechanic and would find covering a $2000 repair bill out of the question unless there was absolutely no other way.  Luckily, that was not needed as Nissan agreed to cover the parts…whew!  I am very glad I did not need to install used parts in my Leaf just yet because the car is still covered under its 5yr/60k mile power-train and 96 month/100k mile drive battery warranty so during that time I do not want to use anything but new OEM parts if possible for fear of voiding any part of the warranty.  I may be overly cautious with this but I feel it is better to err on the side of caution in these matters.

Jennifer then said that the parts needed to fix Elektra were not going to be in for several more days. I was fine with this as I had the now rental car but the issue was that I needed to go out of town on important family business and had no other option but drive the Altima.  She said I could take the rental car out of town so on the road I went…WOW!  Nissan and Jennifer are even more AWESOME!!

A week later I returned from my out of town trip, borrowed a car and, and returned the Altima – which by the way gets amazing fuel economy – it averaged around 40 mpg for the entire time I had it!  When I dropped off the Altima I learned from Jennifer that the parts were in transit and should be installed by the end of the week.  At the same time I snapped this pic of Elektra looking lonely in a parking lot full of gas powered cars.

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A few days later I spoke with Jennifer again and she said the parts were going to be installed on Saturday!  Woo Hoo!! Below is a pictorial timeline of the removal of Elektra’s faulty braking system components and the installation of the new parts.

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In the middle of surgery to remove the defective parts

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The defective parts removed. Note the hole in the top center looking into the cabin of the car.  This is where the brake master cylinder/booster assembly bolts to the bulkhead. 

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The defective components 

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The shiny new components

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The surgery is complete!

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On the road again! (Yes, the little Nissan Leaf is surprisingly agile in the snow!)  

A huge thank you NissanHQ, Anderson Nissan, Jennifer, Marlon, the Leaf technician that performed the “surgery,” and the other players behind the scenes that all worked together to get my Leaf back on the road as painlessly and as fast as possible and for helping me make this blog posting happen for all those out there that are interested in learning about driving the all electric Nissan Leaf (and hopefully one day soon, the eNV200 van!)

20160118_175001   Awesome, friendly, service from Jennifer, Marlon and crew!

Very well done!

(…they even washed it and fully charged it!!!)

Until next time…

“Plug into the future!”

Blue water leaf is not affiliated or responsible for any ads that may appear below this line.

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