Staff Car Update: Nissan LEAF 12-Volt Battery Upgrade (Optima YellowTop G51R)

Just over a month ago, our 2013 Nissan LEAF ‘staff car’ suffered a series of unexplained dead 12-volt battery events in which the car’s battery became completely drained overnight. Convinced it was the age of the 12-volt battery, we took the car to the local battery specialist in order to have the battery tested, only to discover that the 12-volt battery — under normal internal combustion engine starting loads — performed fine.

Yet the same issue happened two or three more times, leaving us with a flat battery in the morning. So, knowing that 12-volt ‘starter’ batteries can cause problems in electric cars, we took the plunge and swapped out the older 12-volt OEM battery for a brand-new Optima YellowTop G51R.

Watch the video above to find out how easy it was — and don’t forget to support us through Patreon.


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  • NavyCuda

    So your solution is to replace the battery instead of finding the cause of the drain? Dumb.

  • Randall Fontenot

    I put 1 like that on my 2012 Nissan Leaf , no more dead battery. The first one was a little more than 4 years old.

  • I put 1 like

  • Dudamus

    We have one 2012SL with original battery and I replaced the other 2012SL battery as a precaution a few months ago. I suspect you may have left a light on or something. Did you check the back storage space light? Are you always quick charging? I think quick chargers bypass the inverter that charges the 12v battery? Not sure. Might be an inverter problem. Good Luck.

  • WayneC

    I have a 2015 Leaf SL, and a few weeks after getting my Carwings 3G upgrade, I started having the same issues. My 12V battery was 2.5 years old, so I replaced it with a Nissan brand battery, but still having the same issues. It will work fine for a week or so, but then starts to drain to zero overnight, making it completely useless the next morning. Had it in the shop for 2 weeks; they charged me a diagnosis fee of $120 (it’s out of warranty), and eventually gave up and told me it seemed to be working fine. Took the car home, and the 12V battery was dead within a few hours. Took the car back and they kept it for an additional few weeks, but couldn’t find a cause. The Nissan engineers asked if my home had significant radio interference (which it does not). Everyone has basically given up on finding the cause, and I am stuck with a 12V battery that won’t hold it’s juice. Had not connected the issue to the Carwings 3G upgrade until I saw this video. This must be a very widespread issue, and I hope that Nissan will come up with a fix soon. EVs are supposed to be reliable, but my car is now anything but. Has really started to sour me on the Nissan brand….

    • WayneC

      Btw, the error code that precedes this battery draining is code# P3131, which is described as “High-Voltage EV System shutdown error.” So perhaps the upgraded 3G Carwings system is keeping the system from shutting down properly, which allows the system to continually drain the 12V battery to empty. Maybe a firmware glitch on the upgraded circuit board? Need a quick solution, Nissan!!!! Your service deparments need to be notified of this as soon as possible, across the U.S.

  • Mary Rolf

    This thing is huge! Thank you for sharing

  • Jamie Smither

    Are you aware that that new battery is “SPIRAL plate” type..?……..much more surface area than flat plate for electrolytic action. They are therefore sooooooo much better! Worth knowing. Love what your’e doing…..leading the interested to new cheese! As a life-long mechanic who has built IC engines on and off 40yrs…..from mopeds to porsche with a wankel or 2 too I will be particularly glad to see the demise of diesel now we know it’s such a killer. However 50% of my customers are diesel so my business plan is to replace that work with Hybrid/Plugin. I am discounting plug-in MOT’s from 54.85 to 2.05 – pounds sterling that is …….CM23 5NF. It’s a “loss leader for us but we wanna get ’em through our shop! Several Teslas in my town already!