Shell Recharge charging point in London.

15 reasons why your EV is not charging

Understand why your EV may fail to charge
X min
  • Charging at home is convenient, but there are often issues which may lead to your EV not charging.
  • Public chargers are sometimes not appropriately maintained or suffer from software errors, which can prevent your car from charging.
  • Sometimes, the answer is human error - we all make mistakes, so we've listed some reasons EV drivers may fail to charge their cars correctly.
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Ever had that sinking feeling when you've plugged in your electric car for a night's charge, only to find it still flat as a pancake by morning? That frustrating moment can feel like the world's conspiring against you.

Fear not! This post highlights some of the most common charging issues you may encounter at home and on the road.

The most common complaints from users we could find on forums and reviews regarding EV chargers include:

  • The charger does not detect the vehicle, and vice versa.
  • Charging fails to initiate.
  • Connectors are hard to unplug.
  • Network failures cause public chargers to go offline.
  • Unresponsive charging station touchscreens.
  • Broken connectors or even vandalised tethered cables.

Let's dive in!

Issues when charging at home

Troubles with home charging can seem overwhelming. Here are some of the most common electric car charging problems at home.

1. Faulty wall charger 

The first thing to do is check your wall charger still online. Can you access its menus or log in to its app? If everything here looks good, the next step is to check the wall box for any visible signs of damage, such as frayed wires, cracks or burn marks. 

2. Damaged charging cable

If you have an untethered charger, testing your charging cable using a different charger elsewhere may be worth trying it to see if the fault is potentially with the cable itself. Some faults could be developed with the connection jack, too, so look for any cracks, dust, or dirt that may be stuck inside.

3. The breaker flips every time a charge is initiated

This one is harder to ignore but is another reason you may wake up to an EV that hasn't charged overnight.

There may be an underlying issue that requires professional attention. Determine whether your wiring has enough electricity for efficient EV charging. 

If you use a 3-point pin (granny) charger, your external power socket may not be powerful enough to sustain many hours of constant power draw.

Attention to your power supply will help you rule out any potential energy-related causes behind the problem. Read our guide on electric car charging cables.

4. You're using a domestic extension lead

Using domestic extension leads with EV chargers can be dangerous. These leads aren't designed to handle the power required to charge an electric car and can even lead to fires.

Avoid using extension leads when charging your EV (even if you feel like you can get away with it by reducing the charging rate). Consider purchasing a longer EV-specific charging cable if you need a longer reach. Some are over 6m long! 

5. A power outage may have tripped up the charging schedule

If your area experienced a power outage at night, there's a chance that the wall charger and your car didn't reconnect once the power was restored. 

6. Automatic charging settings

Timers set from apps might prevent the car from charging outside the set times. Most home charging tariff and hardware providers offer smart charging. 

Regularly check and adjust any automatic charging settings or timers in your energy app or EV's settings.

7. In-car smart charging mode activated

Some EVs have a smart charging mode that adjusts the charging rate based on various factors. This mode might prevent the car from charging under certain conditions or times of the day.

Familiarise yourself with your vehicle's charging settings and ensure that any smart charging modes are set appropriately.

Home charger plugged into a black Tesla Model 3.

Common issues with public EV chargers

Here are some of the key reasons why a public charger may not be charging your EV.

1. No data connection

The charging station may be unable to connect to the network due to issues like network congestion, signal interference, or problems with the charging station's communication hardware. This means the charging won't be confirmed and won't start.

There's only a little you can do here, but move on to a different charger or location altogether. You can check out some of the best apps for EV owners here, where you can find one that would make this easier. 

2. Power outage

A power outage in the area can prevent the public charging station from functioning. It's self-explanatory, but this may not be immediately obvious if you've just arrived at a remote location which you're not familiar with. 

If you're running low on battery, check for local power outages and see if it will be fixed soon. You can wait for power to be restored or find an alternative charging location.

3. RFIS card issues

Some public chargers use RFID cards for payment. If the card isn't compatible or has insufficient funds, charging might not start.

Ensure that your RFID card is compatible with the charging station and your account is sufficiently topped up.

4. Emergency stop button pressed

If someone presses the emergency stop button on a public charger, it will stop charging and shut down.

The emergency stop button should only be used in genuine emergencies, but pranksters may want to annoy EV drivers. If pressed, the station might need a manual reset.

5. Maintenance and cleanliness of ports

Often, dirt, debris, or damage in the charging port can prevent a secure connection. You cannot do much to fix this at a public charger (you could report it!)

But the same thing may happen to your car's charging port and cable.

Regularly inspect and clean both and ensure there's no visible damage or obstructions that might prevent a good connection.

A close up of a 3-pin slow home charger plugged into a Tesla Model 3.

Software issues

Like any software-driven system, EV chargers are not immune to malfunctions. Software malfunctions can arise from coding errors, outdated firmware, or even external factors like cyber-attacks. Such malfunctions can lead to various issues, from the inability to initiate a charging session to incorrect billing for the power consumed.

A software glitch might sometimes prevent the charger from communicating effectively with the vehicle or the central server, disrupting the charging process. 

Regular software updates and maintenance are crucial to ensure the smooth operation of EV charging stations and to address any potential vulnerabilities or bugs that might arise over time.

Could it be your fault?

One of the often-overlooked factors in electric vehicle charging issues is human error. As with any technology, the process of charging an electric vehicle involves steps that, if not followed correctly, can lead to disruptions or failures in charging. 

More than simple oversights, such as not securely connecting the charging cable, forgetting to activate the charging session, or selecting an incorrect charging rate, can all prevent the vehicle from charging. You can read our experience of using Clenergy chargers where we describe how the charging process can be a bit complex.

Additionally, settings or timers set via smartphone apps may prevent the charge. It's essential for EV owners to familiarise themselves with the correct charging procedures for their specific vehicle and charging station and to double-check their actions, especially when using an unfamiliar charging network. 

As the adage goes, "to err is human," sometimes, the solution to a charging issue is as simple as rectifying a small human mistake.

If you want to read more about other common problems with electric cars, you can read our full EV issues analysis.

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