2020 Nissan Leaf Problems and Top Complaints Summary

Our analysis found that electrical system, forward collision avoidance, and backover prevention issues are the top issues for the 2020 Leaf

Updated on Author: Brian Jones | Reviewer: Sergei Lemberg

As an EV, the 2020 Nissan Leaf is supposed to provide a lot of reliability and fun. The newer models claim to offer “electric power, instant thrills.” However, owners of the 2020 Leaf are complaining about faulty back-up cameras, brakes that malfunction, unexpected acceleration, and issues with batteries. 

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2019   2021   2022

Most Common Problems with the 2020 Nissan Leaf

The single most common problem highlighted by complaints lodged with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about the 2020 Nissan Leaf concerns the rear back-up camera. These are regarded by customers as being electrical, forward collision avoidance, backover prevention, visibility wiper, and/or unknown or other issues. Other common problems relate to the braking system and unexpected acceleration. Some combine one or more categories in their NHTSA complaints.

There are also complaints that highlight problems with the airbags, powertrain, structure, suspension, and visibility/wiper.

There are also five recalls that affect the 2020 Nissan Leaf. Two of these relate to the rearview camera and are regarded as backover prevention issues. And one relates to unintended acceleration. We’ll talk about these in the relevant sections below.

The other recalls affect visibility and equipment:

  • Visibility: The rear window glass may separate. This increases the risk of a crash.
  • Visibility and Equipment: There is incorrect information in the owner’s manual. Specifically, instructions for the defroster operation that can reduce defroster performance and limit visibility through the windshield. This fault also increases the risk of a crash.

2020 Nissan Leaf Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Unknown Or Other
Electrical System
Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
Back Over Prevention: Camera System
Air Bags
Electrical System:12v/24v/48v Battery
Forward Collision Avoidance: Adaptive Cruise Control
Power Train
Service Brakes

Rearview Camera Problems

Problems about the rearview camera are reported as being electrical or unknown or other issues, sometimes also linked to backover prevention, which is where you’ll find the recalls.

The first of these, issued by Nissan in July 2020, warns that 6,157 Leaf vehicles have a potential problem with the back-up camera. “Under certain circumstances, the images for the back-up camera can disappear while in reverse.” Needless to say, if this happens, it will reduce the driver’s rear view, which increases the risk of a crash. The stated solution is for Nissan to update the back-up camera software, free of charge.

Some of the earliest complaints about faulty back-up cameras state that their cars aren’t included in recall, even though the problem keeps recurring. An owner from Wisconsin states that he’s taken the vehicle into Nissan multiple times because the camera stops working. “However the dealership is now telling me it worked when it arrived and they have been unable to recreate the issue. This is frustrating and needs to have an official recall PLEASE!”

Others say that they’ve had the recall repair done, but it doesn’t fix the issue. “I had the system update run already in December 2022 and it didn’t fix the problem. The rear backup camera still goes pink and is not visible. I believe this is a hardware issue and should be fixed because it is a major safety problem.”

The second recall, issued in February 2024, increases the number of Leaf vehicles affected to 57,914. This is because the recall now includes 2018-2022 vehicles. It adds that “Damage to the camera harness can cause distortion or loss of the rearview camera display image.” Unfortunately, this time, the recall states that the “remedy is currently under development.”

NHTSA Complaints About Back-Up Camera Problems

Many of the complaints state that the back-up camera screen is pink and doesn’t show vehicles traveling behind the Leaf. Another Wisconsin owner states, “Clearly, it is a safety issue to have a malfunctioning backup camera. I am getting it serviced by a Nissan dealer next week. The failure seems to be related to opening and shutting the rear hatch, because sometimes the camera would work and sometimes it failed. It is consistently broken now.”

Shortly before the second recall, an owner from Georgia stated, “My back up camera is having issues, like becoming dark, multicolored and pink. It is not safe to back up especially when it rains.” This customer had owned the car for only two months when the complaint was filed. “Sometimes it works fine but mostly (it) is not working. I contacted the Nissan dealer I purchased from but they did not confirm the issue and I know a lot of people (in Facebook group) who have the same issue with their Nissan Leaf even with new 2023 models, mine is 2020.” Understandably, this owner wanted the dealer to inspect the car. But he was told it would cost $130 for an inspection.

Unexpected Acceleration Problems

In July 2023, Nissan recalled 66,159 Leaf vehicles from model years 2018-2023. The recall warns, “The vehicle may accelerate unintentionally if the driving mode is changed (‘D’ to ‘B; e-Pedal ‘On’; or ‘ECO’ mode) after disengaging the cruise control.” If vehicles accelerate unintentionally, the recall states, it can increase the risk of a crash. The solution, says Nissan, is for dealers to reprogram the vehicle control module (VCM), free of charge.

Complaints About Unexpected Acceleration

An owner from North Carolina lists numerous issues in a complaint to the NHTSA. One of these is unexpected acceleration. But when he was asked to drive Nissan representatives a round, he was unable to replicate the issue, so they dismissed the problem. The complaint also states that the problem is evident when using economy drive. The “car sped up after taking (my) foot off (the) accelerator and between foot pedal breaking, this occurred coming up to red lights, parking, car wash, etc. There’s something wrong with the cruise control too, and it does not always work right.”

Ironically, an owner from New York had taken the car into a dealership “after receiving a recall notice for unexpected acceleration while on adaptive cruise control even though this was an issue I had never experienced before.” The VCM was reprogrammed. But three months later, he did experience this issue. While driving in stop-go traffic in light rain — with intermittent wipers on a slow setting — “all of a sudden the car started accelerating directly towards the car 20 feet or so in front of us.”

The driver had to manually slam on brakes to get the car to stop — “with now only 2-3 feet or so between the two cars. This was very alarming.” He spoke to the dealership about them needing to fix this safety issue and said it must be related to the recall. But they weren’t certain, saying because it happened three months after the recall repair. Because of this, “I would have to pay for an evaluation and if they found anything wrong for the repair.“

Electrical System Issues

A faulty electrical system is just one more problem with the 2020 Leaf, which does seem slightly ironic considering it is an EV. Issues reported are varied, ranging from the problematic back-up camera to the all-important car battery.

An owner from Hawaii was traveling uphill on an interstate highway at 55 mph. Suddenly, the percentage charge on the high-voltage battery dropped from 18% to 5%. The warning light also came on. Then it took about 30 seconds for the battery gauge to drop from 5 to 1. “By dumb luck, as the gauge hit 1%, I hit peak elevation on the mountain pass.” He was able to coast in neutral until the freeway started going downhill.

“Normally, an 18% charge would have been more than enough to comfortably complete my trip home from where I was on H-3 at the time. A sudden drop in battery % could lead to a cutoff of the motor, which at high-speed on a highway could cause a serious accident. I have subsequently done a battery health test and found the State of Health rating to be 90%. There don’t appear to be any bad cells in the battery that would explain the sudden drop while driving.”

An owner from California reports a problem with the battery gauge.   “While doing a 70-mile round trip with 173 miles battery life, the battery gauge indicated the battery level was at 70 miles remaining. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was informed of failure and informed the contact that they were unable to assist.”

Brake System Problems

There’s currently a proposed class-action lawsuit against Nissan because of a defective automatic emergency braking system (AEB). It turns out the software can engage falsely or fail, leaving people in a lot of danger. It can also slow down abruptly when it shouldn’t.

But it’s not the only brake-related problem owners are reporting to the NHTSA. It appears that some owners find they have to brake manually because of a different AEB malfunction.

An owner from California had to switch to manual braking when the automatic braking system failed. “I manually braked to a crash.” Fortunately, no-one was injured.

The NHTSA complaint states that the “automatic braking system failed to engage on a offramp lane from freeway 5 southbound to crown valley parkway off ramp. While traveling (at) approximately 25 mph, I rear-ended a vehicle that was at dead stop and that vehicle rear ended a second vehicle.” To add insult to injury, Nissan “summarized (a) 10 page disclaimer from (the) owner’s manual stating that (the) braking system is not 100%.”

Sudden Braking Issues

An NHTSA complaint describes a “yellow warning and two cars crashing” sign that came on before the car suddenly braked. The owner filed this as an electrical system, service brake, and forward collision avoidance issue, stating that parts weren’t available for repairs. The dealer didn’t provide a timeline for repairs or parts, and refused to provide a rental car in the interim even though the vehicle was still under warranty.

An owner from California believes the AEB malfunctioned putting the safety of those in the car at risk. He was concerned that there could have been injuries from abrupt braking and a possible rear-end collision if other vehicles had been behind him when it happened. The complaint states, “I saw three red flashes and associated sounds warning of imminent collision – even though NOTHING was in front of the car that would cause the AEB to engage.”

What Can You Do?

If you are experiencing issues with your 2020 Nissan Leaf that affect its value or your use of the car, there’s a good chance you’re sitting with a lemon. But you don’t have to be stuck with it. Call the Lemberg Law Helpline or fill out a contact form and we’ll assess your problems free of charge. You don’t pay because the law makes Nissan pay the legal fees for lemon law cases. 


Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

See more posts from Brian Jones

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