How to Get a Nissan Leaf into Neutral – Shifting my Dead Leaf

If you ever tried to drive through a carwash that requires that you put your Nissan Leaf into neutral, you may have delayed the process by not knowing how to switch it into neutral.  In a gas-powered car, switching to neutral is simple.  The car does not even have to be running.  Nevertheless, with a Leaf, as soon as you turn it off, it will switch itself into park.  Not pleasant if you moving along through an older car wash.

How to get a Nissan Leaf into Neutral.  To switch your Nissan Leaf into neutral, you will need to hold in the shift knob to the left.  Make sure that you do so for at least 3 seconds.  You will notice that the display below the shift knob will have the letter N lit up, meaning that you are in neutral.  You must not turn off the Leaf while switching into neutral.

When you enter into some carwashes, if they are not the laser washer type, you will need to put your Nissan Leaf into neutral.  The manual does explain how this done, but I thought that I should explain the process above quickly to people that might in the line-up at a carwash.

Another situation for Nissan Leaf is when it is dead and you need to put it into neutral.  Of course, the above method will not work because it requires power to do so. Here is how to put your dead Nissan into neutral.

How to put a Nissan Leaf in neutral when it is dead

If the 12v battery is dead in your Nissan Leaf, getting it into neutral is a challenge.  Sometimes, in an EV, people park in a place that makes it hard to access the front of the Leaf to jumpstart the 12v battery.  These people will need a way to switch it into neutral so that it can be moved into an area that will provide easy access to the 12v battery.  For a new 4 button Keyecu key fob for your Nissan Leaf, click here to purchase on Amazon. Even if you were able to charge the main battery, you still would be able to turn on the vehicle because it has to be started via the 12v battery.

One solution for jumping a Leaf, that is in a tight place, is to use a jump starter box.  Of course, this is just for the 12v battery. I recommend the NORCO Boost Plus for a 12v battery, click to see pricing on Amazon. Once the 12v has been jumped with this portable jump starter box, you can then turn on your Leaf and put it in neutral.

It would be nice if the Leaf had an override so that it could be put into neutral.  Lots of owners were shocked to find out how dependent an EV can be on the simple 12v battery that costs pennies when compared to the battery pack for the electric motor.  Nevertheless, it has been proved that a 12v lead battery is the best option since it can be jumped easily.  It just happens to be cheap to install in a new Nissan Leaf. If you were to replace it with a more modern high tech battery like a Ni-MH, you might end up killing some of the cells by jumping it.

Besides having the 12v battery dying, you could lose your key which is needed to start your Leaf, and then to place it in neutral.

How to Put a Nissan Leaf into neutral without a working key fob

What happens if you need to have your Nissan towed and your battery in your key fob is dead.  You will not be able to even open the doors.  Once in the car, how in the world are you going to start the engine so that you can put the Lead into neutral?

Here are the steps to follow to just the Leaf with a dead key fob:

  1. If the key fob is not working due to a dead battery, holding it close to the door handle will not open it.
  2. In the back of the key fob is a tiny tab that you must press in.
  3. While pressing the tab, pull on the end of the key fob to remove a mechanical key.
  4. The mechanical key will look the same as a normal car key.
  5. In the door handle, you will see the slot for a key.
  6. Use the mechanical key in this slot to unlock the door.
  7. Finally, you can enter into the Nissan Leaf without having a battery in your key fob.
  8. Try to start the car and you will notice that a message appears stating that the key is not detected.
  9. Now place the key fob just to the side of the start button.  You will notice that it will light up orange.
  10. Make sure that you keep holding the key fob close to the start button and then place in the start button using your other hand while pressing on the brake pedal.
  11. The Nissan Leaf will then startup as if you had used a key fob that was working fine.
  12. You will now be able to drive around without having a battery in your key fob.
  13. After your drive, turn off the Nissan Leaf by simply pressing in on the start button.
  14. Once you have left the Leaf, lock it using the mechanical key.
  15. Make sure that you replace the battery so that starting the car will be simpler the next time.

Now that you know how to start the car when the key fob is dead, what should you do if you turn on the car only to realize that you cannot put it into reverse? Could this be because the key fob is dead, or are you missing a simple step that is needed to start your EV?

How to reverse a Nissan Leaf

If you are a new owner of a Nissan Leaf, you may have had a problem putting it into reverse.  This can happen if you are trying to start it incorrectly using the start button.  Initially, you will need to be careful starting it so that you will be able to put it into reserve if need be.  If you have not started it correctly, the protective measure of the Leaf will only allow you to switch it into neutral or into park, which is pointless if you are trying to back out of a parking space.

If you have turned on the Leaf and you do not notice the tiny green car with arrow icons showing forward and backward directions, then you have not fully turned it on.  It probably is still in the ACC mode.  It will stay in this mode for various reasons:

  1. You have forgotten to unplug the charging cable.
  2. You have not closed the charging port.

If the charging cable is unplugged and you notice that the charge port door has been correctly latched,  it could be that you have not held in the brake pedal while turning on the vehicle.  I know that many people have stated online that they were pretty sure that they had held in the brake while turning on the Leaf only to admit later on that perhaps they had forgotten to do so.  Some newer owners are not one hundred sure how to start up their Leaf and they just assume that there is a problem with it that no one else is experiencing.

If you press the start button without holding the brake pedal, it will seem as if the Leaf is starting up even though it has been switched into the accessory mode.

It is best to start over and to ensure that you are braking while starting your Leaf.  You will then notice that lovely icon of a green car with arrows just below it.  Once you notice the green car icon, you can then put your Nissan Leaf into reverse.

Switching the Leaf into reverse or another gear seems slightly different than the average EV.  Exactly what is happening with the shifting mechanism?

How does the Shift Lever work in a Nissan Leaf

The shift lever is a Nissan is difficult to grasp.  It is not like the normal gearing system that allows you to slide the lever into slots that have labels such as neutral and reverse.  It has a panel between the shirt knob that indicates the direction that will need to press the knob.  It works similar to a joystick rather than a gear shifter.

You will notice a series of arrows for reverse, neutral, and for drive.  The drive gear also has a B after the slash that is for regenerative braking mode.  If you have not read the manual completely, this gear is confusing.  It does not indicate well what the B stands for and it should because it a rare gear for someone to use.

Also, to lock into neutral or into the d/b mode, you need to hold the knob into this position for a few seconds.  This is why I feel that it operates in a fashion similar to a joystick in a videogame.

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