Saturday, October 4, 2014

Turtle Mode!!

Since getting my first LEAF on Jan 18, 2011 I had only seen turtle mode one time and that was on purpose. I actually was doing my 100 mile trip on a cold February day when it happened but had to circle my neighborhood for the last 3 or 4 miles to make it happen.

This was ok. But Tuesday I had 6 job assignments that had me running all over Puget Sound that ran from Puyallup to Kent to Shelton. Needless to say, charging as much as I could was a priority . Now, most of the jobs were short and actually was able to make it home 3 times to charge for short stints before I had to hit the road to head to my next assignment.

This is actually a rare treat for me because most of jobs lie North of my Lacey, WA home.  But it was about 9:30 PM when going from job #5 to job #6 that I realized that I had made a critical mistake.  I had been MUCH more interested in listening to a baseball game on the radio than I was in monitoring my speed and found myself driving way too fast (smooth ride of the LEAF be damned!!) for the distance I needed to cover and immediately started plotting a route to Olympia Nissan for a quick boost.

As I came off the Highway 8 interchange to Hwy 101, I saw I had 14 GIDs but almost 5 miles to go. A quick calculation told me I would be at least 1.5 miles short. This was not looking good. I immediately cut my speed to 50 mph. There was very little traffic and the speed limit would soon drop to 45 MPH for the 101 to I-5 Interchange.   I babied it as much as I could shifting to neutral for the descent to Mud Bay. I gained speed getting up near 58 MPH but every benefit has a price.

The ascent was looming in front of me and I started up still at 14 GIDs but started losing a GID every 4 to 5 seconds.  I was SCREWED!!

Now there have been many reports that the new turtle has a lot more range than the 2011's but THAT much more?  My only turtle event, I ended up with 3 power circles left losing each circle in .1-.3 miles. So Turtle really means stop NOW and plug in. There simply is not enough left to go anywhere!

As I eased up the hill, I approached the Black Lake Blvd exit and my GIDs were now at 6, my lowest ever in LEAF II!  Then the dreaded event; Turtle made its debut upon my dash! I was still nearly 2 miles away!

I slowed to 40 MPH (speed limit here is 45 MPH) It was still a mile to the Auto Mall exit. There is a slight downslope and I shifted to neutral hoping to maintain momentum but started losing speed immediately. I did not have enough speed to begin with so reluctantly, I shifted back to drive and eased onto the pedal. I looked down and was shocked to see that I had gone from 8 power circles to 2 in about 15 seconds!

I now started running scenarios thru my head of what I was going to tell my DM when I called to tell her I would be several hours late to the jobsite.  I also began to work out how I would be able to make my 6 AM Pharmacy audit in Kent the next day which was now less than 8 hours away! I can't really call in sick. I am the boss, I have all the downloads, equipment, etc. It would VERY inconvenient to get a replacement at this late hour!  I thought about calling roadside now to get a tow truck on the way early to reduce the amount of time, I would have to wait on the side of the freeway... Oh man I was SCREWED!!!

Not wanting to feel any worse, I reluctantly glanced at the dash to see only one power circle lit and still two tenths of a mile from the Auto Mall exit, I shifted to neutral and at least I was maintaining my 40 MPH speed. As I exited the freeway, I shifted back to drive and regen gained me TWO CIRCLES!!! I was stoked but still had a mile to go.  As I approached the light to turn onto the road to the Auto Mall, I debated just running the light, maintaining a bit of momentum thus saving power but decided against it. As always, there was no traffic to speak of and it took FOREVER for the light to change. I wanted to turn off my headlights while waiting but didn't. I did turn off the radio thinking it would help (it doesn't)

Finally the light changed, I eased onto the road and immediately shifted to neutral to take advantage of the downslope of the overpass but as luck would have it, the light at the bottom of the slope changed and I had to stop for a single car (probably the only one at the intersection in the past 10 minutes!) to go thru.

As the light turned green, I took off and saw I still had 3 power circles lit. Could I actually make it??But something must have been monitoring my thoughts because one circle disappeared immediately.  With my two power circles left, I tootled down the road that last .6 of a mile to the dealership. I was only 2 blocks away!! I was going to make it!!.

I was in front of the dealership and turned to pull in having had only one power circle left for the last 4-5 blocks. The turn in to the dealership is a short but rather steep slope and I as was about halfway up, my car slowed dramatically! OH CRAP! Don't tell me I was gonna die 50 feet away from the charger with no chance of pushing the car myself.  I literally slowed to about 4 MPH but made it to the charger!!

FYI: I was never worried for a second!~


  1. You've got big balls man! I have never seen the "dreaded" turtle but have pushed it to the point where both the power and guessometer display "---". Thought I might see the turtle as I going up a hill when the --- appeared but then the rest of my trip was downhill so I actually gained and by the time I made it to the dealership I was 8% but still --- for the mile range. I shared this story with my wife and she is like "I would never do that..." I tell her, I've got big balls ;) Thanks for the story.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to respond but truth be told; When I was down to one power circle and still had nearly a mile to go, my balls weren't feeling all that big!

  2. Awesome Story!!! Glad you made it.

  3. Last winter I visited my brother just north of Shelton and charged on 120V for a couple of hours. I was a bit short returning and that hill from Mud Bay was still stuck in my mind as being very long and steep from my days of first driving in the 60's. When reality hit that the hill wasn't all that bad now and I could get some regen heading down to I-5. I headed to the Tumwater Shell. Given the terrain that seemed about as good as trying to make it to Oly Nissan. Now I know that I have about 12 miles or so left when the low battery warning comes on and don't sweat these situations as much. Yet to hit turtle and don't intend to! Thanks Dave for your description.

    1. Thanks for the reply Pat! You must have left home without a full charge as I work in Shelton (far side in fact!) often and have plenty of range to make it there and back. The reason I went to Oly Nissan was two fold. One; I got the car there so I get free charging and the other was my next destination was Lacey Walmart so Tumwater would have been a detour from my route (came from Shelton Walmart) although occasionally, I do do the Tumwater Walmart

  4. Man... when I get that low (beyond "---"), I know there's one more bar to go. In my 2011, "---" comes on after the last bar is gone. In the 2013, that last bar stays up there far longer, as do "---". My roommate has made it home from 7 miles away when he started a trip on dashes as well - doing 35 MPH.

    If you look in Leaf Spy, the deciding factor for "turtle" seems to be when it hits 0.5 kWh remaining, and one of the cells drops below 3V/cell. No cell can ever hit "0", so when it gets that low, not only is it stressing the hell out of the battery, but it's a juggling act to keep the cells above critical voltage (2V/cell). Hence, the turtle limits it.

    In my 2011, hitting turtle immediately wiped out all power dots and left only the one bubble active - all the way up to that, they were all available. Seems like poor programming in the 2011-2012 at least. I haven't yet hit turtle (at least, while driving - only while heating in my driveway) in the 2013, though. But when it goes "dashes" on me, it's definitely Leaf Spy time...