Here's Why to Avoid Puncturing a Nissan LEAF Tire

By · March 12, 2012

Continental kit

The ContiComfortKit's orange compartment contains a bottle of liquid latex tire sealant. When the tire sealant has been activated to temporarily repair a tire, the sealant flows through an adapter and air hose, which become coated with the sealant. Therefore the sealant bottle, adapter and air hose must be replaced after each use.

Here's a tale of a Nissan LEAF owner who experienced first-hand what type of damage puncturing a tire can do to his pocketbook and how his beloved LEAF was repaired.

LEAF owner James Billmaier recently "picked up a nail" in his rear tire and awoke the next morning to find the tire completely flat. LEAF should be aware that Nissan didn't equip the electric hatchback with a spare tire. Rather, Nissan threw in an electric pump and tire sealant kit. The package, made by Continental, is referred to as a "MobilityKit" or a "ConvenienceKit." Here's Billmaier describing how it works:

"You stick the bottle of gunk onto the pump and then you plug the pump into your 12-volt outlet and in about a minute you are set to go. Once inflated with the official gunk, you are supposed to travel no more than 100 miles and at speeds below 50 miles per hour."

The next day, Billmaier took his LEAF to a Nissan dealership to have his tire properly repaired. The procedure was straightforward: remove the gunk, clean the tire pressure sensor, patch the tire and inflate. No problem there. But when Billmaier inquired on the cost to replace the "bottle of gunk," the dealership shocked him by quoting a price of $200. "How much to replace the entire kit?" asked Billmaier. The response: $600. Of course, a replacement wheel and tire combo would cost less than $600, as would a can of warranty-voiding, non-Nissan-approved tire sealant.

Lucky for Billmaier, Tirerack.com stocks the exact OEM sealant, selling it at a bargain-basement price of $28. Need the whole kit? That'll set you back only $78 at Tirerack.com, says Billmaier. Moral of the story? Avoid flats. If it happens, get towed if you can. Not possible, so you use the provided gunk? When it comes time to replace it, check the Internet to avoid shelling out too much of your hard-earned cash at the dealership.

Comments

· · 2 years ago

@Eric Loveday "Moral of the story? Avoid flats. If it happens, get towed if you can. Not possible, so you use..."

Another moral of the story - it is amoral to charge $600 for a tire sealing kit that can be purchased elsewhere for $78. It is amoral to charge $200 for a can of sealent that can be purchased elsewhere for $28. (As an aside, I've also heard about what seems to be excessive service prices for bleeding the brakes on a Leaf.)

Takeaway for me? I like EV's. I like the Leaf and how Nissan has made the commitment to EV's. But I have to say it, on this one, Nissan - two thumbs down.

· · 2 years ago

The advice from some LEAF owners who have dealt with flats is "don't use the Nissan supplied gunk" because it can damage the pressure sensor valve and those are very expensive to replace.

I carry a plug kit, pliers, and pump and if that doesn't work, calling for a tow would be the next option. Others have been carrying a compact spare and jack in the trunk (those from 2002 or later Altimas reportedly fit). A few have installed spare tires below the trunk.

Nissan's decision to leave out a spare tire may be fine in cities where calling for a tow is no big deal. But it is a nuisance where I live: cell phone coverage is spotty and towing distances are very long. I think a spare should at least have been offered as an option.

· tterbo1 (not verified) · 2 years ago

Surely with 25k+ Leafs out there, there's an aftermarket spare tire fix for this by now. At least until there's a before-market fix.
Seems like even a homemade fix would work. Time for an article that describes that fix. :)

· · 2 years ago

I asked about the pump canister at two different dealerships before I bought my Volt. I don't remember the exact price, but it was somewhere around $50.

· · 2 years ago

The high price is obviously something that Nissan should fix, but going forward this issue will probably exist for most cars, regardless of their powertrain. It is just the direction that car designers are going to save upfront sticker price and weight, given the more stringent CAFE mpg requriements that are coming.

AAA is a great thing.

· · 2 years ago

Hang on a second. You say, "awoke the next morning to find the tire completely flat". So the car was at his home? In that case you jack the car up and remove the wheel. Drive to the tire store and have them repair or replace the tire. Bring the wheel home and install it on the car. Costs aside, never drive on a tire with sealant in it if you don't have to.

· · 2 years ago

Another option to avoid getting gouged by Nissan is to buy a spare wheel and tire before you ever get a flat from a late model Maxima or Altima found on the used part locator on www.car-part.com.

· · 2 years ago

Good article. Great info that the Altima spare fits the LEAF. If I get a flat I'll call my wife and she will arrive in her Alitma with my spare :-)

· · 2 years ago

Fix-A-Flat: Less than 6 bucks at Amazon

· · 2 years ago

"AAA is a great thing."

I'll second that, alt-e. I think it's $25 for them to put your vehicle on a flatbed and get you to the tire store of your choice within a 5 mile range.
The local rubber vendor I use in Tucson carries a great warranty on the units I buy for the old Saturn. Depending upon the particular situation, I often get a patch or sometimes even a brand new replacement tire for free. Drive up to any of their locations anytime they're open and they'll also check pressure on all four corners and pump up any of your low tires to spec for free. This is certainly preferable to convenience food/gas places, where you have to pump quarters into a machine for a few minutes of air to do it yourself.

The "factory approved" can of Fix-A-Flat story is something, sadly, that applies to many new cars and not just the Leaf. Kind of reminds me $3.50 box of 29 Cent popcorn you are obliged to buy at the movie theater.

· NISSANMASTTECH (not verified) · 2 years ago

Checked parts dept. where I work
PN 99790-1NM4D TIRE SEAL $167.67
PN 97350-1NM0D PUMP KIT $334.08
@ indyflick , you're right on the money, never install tire sealant unless it's an emergency.
Some sealants are flammable and have cause injuries to technicians, always warn your service departments if you install sealant.

· · 2 years ago

Good article I am bringing it to the attention of the service group. Maybe the supplier sourcing which can be corrected.

· · 2 years ago

@Benjamin Nead, "I think it's $25 for them to put your vehicle on a flatbed and get you to the tire store of your choice within a 5 mile range."

5 miles?! Nearest tire place to me is 28-35 miles, depending on route. Nearest LEAF-certified Nissan dealer is 94 miles and three mountain passes (11,000', 10,900', 10,800', i.e. "non trivial to cross").

I have towing with my car insurance; if I can't fix the tire in the field, all I want is for them to get me home and I'll handle it from there. Getting towed to the dealer by Nissan would be a nuisance.

· pfcbubba (not verified) · 2 years ago

This isn't a problem with only EVs. More and more new cars these days are coming without a spare, and with only the pump and a can of fix-a-flat. I rented a VW in scotland last year, and while parked on a rainy sunday night in edinborough, got a flat. Called the rental company, which was useless, and said they couldn't do anything until the next day. Problem was, I was parked in a weekend only zone, so the city was going to tow the car after midnight. I ended up spending $300 to have a tire delivered and put on late on a sunday night. I was lucky I was in a place where there were phones available, since my cellphone didn't work in the UK.

I will be getting an altima spare for my leaf ASAP. Thanks for the good info above.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 2 years ago

Loosing a key is similarly expensive...

· · 2 years ago

I have not lost any sleep over the lack of a spare tire because I think back on the times that I have HAD to put the factory spare on the road in previous rides. My 98 Burb still has the original spare that has never been used. My 86 Bronco II spare allowed me to purchase only 3 tires when the factory originals were at the wear bars. My wife's car would have needed 2 spares the one time that we had a flat(s).

· · 2 years ago

It is my understanding that the Nissan LEAF has three years of free roadside assistance. Why wouldn't a flat tire qualify for this assistance?

· · 2 years ago

@Ken01, Yes the LEAF has free assistance but it apparently consists of being towed to the nearest Nissan dealer (the warranty booklet doesn't specify what happens for "tire failure", just "mechanical breakdown" and "crash/collision", as well as things fixable in the field, such as a lock-out). Depending on where one lives that might be a long wait and what if you'd rather not pay dealer prices for a tire repair/replacement?

If I can't fix the flat in the field I'd rather just be towed home so that I can take the tire to a repair place of my choosing. Some people have been able to persuade the roadside assistance contractor to take their car home. Calling roadside assistance might be the first option to try if a flat wasn't fixable, assuming that one has a cell phone and reception. But it may not be practical in some cases.

Then what does one do when the 36 months of free roadside assistance are over? Not providing a spare tire in the LEAF is a nuisance. Flats happen and the low rolling resistance tires on the LEAF figure to be rather delicate.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 2 years ago

Dealers have always and always will charge a premium price for the convenience of not shopping around for the items. EVERYTHING at a dealer will cost more. Who in the world does not know this? What rock have you been under? Everything will be cheaper buying from the web. Wow. Wake up. There is not one thing a car dealer has that is cheaper than just about anywhere else.

· alex (not verified) · 2 years ago

I would believe that there are shops today that has spare fix for leaf tires. I remembered when my tires lacked air pressure and I was using BF Goodrich Car Tires. Its really important to have it replaced to avoid costly repair.

· Zeyna Grapher (not verified) · 1 year ago

I forgot about the center stand to raise the back tire off the ground- the last time I had a center stand was in 1985. To raise the front tire off the ground, there is probably someplace under the front of the engine that is safe to jack- what I do is leave the kickstand down, and jack on the front on the side away from the side stand, to form a triangle with the back tire, the side stand, and the jack to hold up the front tire safely.
http://usedtires.cc/used-tires-for-sale/

· Frank the Volt Owner (not verified) · 1 year ago

This is why I kept the 1-ton dodge diesel and trailer.... I don't need to rely on anyone else. I can call my son to come a pick me up. :)

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