Score! Nissan Leaf Salvage Yard Battery Pack

by Ben N on March 17, 2015

Today, I got my hands on a Nissan Leaf battery pack. As usual, it started as a simple road trip, and ended as an adventure.

I headed out, first to the Credit Union to get some money. When I had spoken to the salvage yard, it sounded like cash would be the best way to pay, even though the cost of the battery pack was in the neighborhood of about two-and-a-half mortgage payments (including interest, insurance, property tax, etc.) While I’m not made of money, I had enough to withdraw from my account. (EDIT: The total cost of the pack, including tax, ended up being just under $2700.) I then started driving towards Milwaukee and then to the south. Taking a left at the Mars Cheese Castle, I was now going towards Kenosha, Wisconsin to Jantz’s salvage yard.

Jantz_sign_IMG_2558When I got there, the place was hopping. Pickup trucks were headed in and out. Large signs on pole barns and fences declared “No Tresspassing”. Inside, there were lines for all four countermen. I finally made it to “Joe”, the guy I had spoken to on the phone. He said the battery was all ready for me, and then we started counting out crisp, blue-green hundred dollar bills on the counter. Once done, I had my “Paid in Full” receipt and was told to pull my truck up to the shipping building.

Perhaps I should have examined the battery in person BEFORE shelling out that much cash….

At the shipping building, I parked, got out and headed inside with my receipt. The pole barn had a concrete floor with assorted engines and transmissions on pallets, along with a floor-to-16-foot-ceiling of pallet racking with more of the same. What it DIDN’T have was a Nissan LEAF battery pack. It was a big place though, and I assumed the battery was probably around a corner or somewhere else that I didn’t immediately see it. I handed my receipt to a grease-monkey and told him I was the guy buying the LEAF battery. He eyed the slip and said he’d grab it for me right away. Immediately, he hopped onto a forklift and zipped straight to a small battery pack on a mini-pallet.

NOT a LEAF pack NOT a LEAF pack

“Woah, Woah, there buddy!” I hollered. “THAT is NOT a Nissan battery pack.” I had to point out the small tag on it that clearly stated HONDA CIVIC HYBRID. That and the fact that the LEAF battery itself is the size of a small car. I also had with me a print-out of the information for the part, including its tag number and photograph of the car. He made a phone call back up to the front office, and then sent me there as well.

Talking once again to Joe The Salesman at the front desk, he reassured me that there was no wool to be pulled over anyone’s eyes, and it must have been a some sort of simple mistake. He tried calling a yard boss, Gus, while I stood to the side, twiddling my thumbs.

Ten minutes later, a different yard worker finally made it to the front.
Joe: “We’re trying to find this LEAF battery. Any idea where it is?”
Other guy (I think his name was Jason. Why don’t these guys have name tags?) “Um. Not sure. Maybe. With those other batteries I guess.”
Joe: “Well, go back and find it. Take this guy with you,” referring to me, “He knows what it looks like.”

With few grunts exchanged, I followed Mister Mullet through the chain link fence, past the “No Tresspassing” signs, and into 40 acres of Jurassic Salvage Park.

Huge racks held row after row of rims, while giant off-road forklifts impaled SUVs and threw them about like toys.

We explored several dimly-lit sheet metal buildings crammed with engines and transmissions. It was as though I stumbled into the last scene of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. As the camera pulls back, it is revealed that the ark will be forever lost in the near infinite space of identical crates in a giant warehouse. How would we ever find one particular part without a barcode and GPS?

Finally, in the furthest corner of the darkest building, behind an engine and next to a transmission, was a large silver box. On it, in tiny letters, was a sticker that simply stated NISSAN.

“There it is!” I declared. I wasn’t sure if all the foot-prints on the battery were from a cat or a raccoon. Fortunately, I only cared what the INSIDE of the battery pack was like. The grease-monkey puzzled over how to get this 600-pound block out from the cramped and remote corner. Finally, he told me to go back to the office while they figured out how to get a forklift to it.

I headed back to the office, and then again with my truck to the shipping area. Twenty minutes later, I spied a forklift coming my way with the battery on it.

IMG_2546Piloting the forklift was Gus. “You guys aren’t going to believe how heavy this thing is! Not sure how we are going to load it,” he hollered to the rest of the crew. They managed to swap off the battery with a smaller, more nimble electric forklift, and from there, put it onto a standard-sized pallet. One of the other guys prepped the battery for shipping – dusting off ambiguous animal prints, marking it, and banding it to the pallet.

“Well here’s your problem,” looking at the tag on the battery, “It’s off by a digit. That should be a 1 instead of a 2.” Go figure. Who knew that the part would be mis-marked by one, and that the next part ONLY ONE DIGIT OFF on a string of 18 characters, would ALSO be a battery, although a smaller one of a different brand? These guys sold LOTS of hybrid batteries, but I don’t think any of them had ever sold an ELECTRIC CAR battery before. They all stood around commenting on its size and weight. When I talked to the salesman before leaving, he mentioned how many calls he had been getting lately about the battery, even saying the one guy from Atlanta wanted to buy it and have it shipped down. “We have an absolutely no-shipping policy,” he stated flatly.

As the forklift lowered the LEAF battery, my truck groaned and sunk a few inches towards the ground. It still had plenty of suspension (thank you, airbags in the coil-springs!)  I closed up the tailgate and was ready for my hour and twenty minute ride home.

Back in my driveway, with the sun setting, I had only one thought on my mind…

How do I get this back OUT of my truck!?

Stay charged up!


UPDATE: Here’s how I got it out of the back of the truck.


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dan March 18, 2015 at 9:14 am

Awesome find. Can’t wait to see what you do with this!

2 John March 27, 2015 at 4:04 am

How mutch do you have to pay for the pack?

3 Owen Woods November 28, 2016 at 5:02 pm

Saved as a favorite, great site!

4 Roland Humphries September 15, 2018 at 4:40 am

I’m looking to power a 36v golf cart. Any cells for sale?

5 admin September 15, 2018 at 3:53 pm

Nope. No cells available for sale at this time.

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