Electric vehicle (EV) charging cables are often vulnerable to damage. This is mainly thanks to the frequent handling they have to suffer. For those that use their EVs daily, it is even possible to have to make use of the cable more than once a day. Given the high voltage they carry, it can be quite dangerous to handle a damaged cable. The risk of shock can lead to deadly consequences.
Damage to charging cables will typically occur along the length of the cable or at the plug ends. This can not only cause shocks but also compromise the ability of your EV to be properly charged. Electricity is the fuel of EVs and anything that hinders it can render the car unusable.
Generally, these cables are constructed with several layers of protection. This is what helps keep them waterproof and durable. But even the strongest insulation will suffer damage with repeated abuse. Let’s look at the common types of damage EV charging cables suffer and how to fix them.
Types of EV Cable Damage
Damaged to the cable
There are many ways the insulation over the length of the cord can be damaged. People often drive over these cables. It is a common trick to secure the cable from theft. Because the wiring is copper, it is a popular target for theft.
For those that park on the street, running charging cables across the pavement leaves it open to pedestrians stepping on it. If there are pets or other animals in the vicinity, there is also the risk of them chewing on the cord. All this can lead to damage to the insulation.
Damaged to the connector plugs
Just like the cable, it is very easy to run over the plug. More so when it is carelessly left on the ground when not in use. this can also happen with untethered charging cables. It is always advisable to wind up and hang up the cable on a wall hook when not in use. if the plug is damaged it may need replacement.
Plug-release lever damage
On Type 1 connectors there is a latch that catches and holds the plug in place when charging. With careless handling, like dropping the cable on the ground when not in use, this latch can sometimes become bent. This can prevent it from holding as it should and prevent the internal micro switch from coming on. This means despite connecting the vehicle to the charging unit, it may not charge.
If the car is, however, able to charge, a damaged latch may also interfere with its ability to tell when you are unplugging. Without this awareness, the car may not automatically stop charging and cause a spark when pulling the cable out.
How to Repair
For damage to a cable that is to one side, the simplest fix may involve shortening. This means cutting off the side of the cable that is damaged and remaining with just the larger section of cord that is in good condition. This however only works where the shortened length is still enough to allow for normal charging.
If not acceptable, then you will need to replace the entire cable. You can send your cable to a repair service for this to be done and ensure the connectors are properly attached.
For tethered cables that need the cable or plug replaced, you will need to remove it from the EVSE box. Again, if under warranty, do have the provider take care of this. If not, you can look up online on how to remove the cable for your particular type of charger.
If the plug is that component that is damaged, you will simply need to replace it. You need to identify the type of connector and order for it. Try where possible to stick to the same brand and make for matching quality.
The repair of a lever shaft will likely require some disassembly of the handle to adjust the contact point or straighten the lever shaft. If the charging cable is under warranty, it may be best to send it back to the dealer for the fix. If older, you can try performing the repair yourself using the manufacturer support guide. An online search should be enough to help guide you. You may also try filing down some of the latch material if it is made of metal and bent too far down.
Dangers When Repairing an EV Cable
The main danger when repairing electrical equipment is being shocked. So before you attempt any work it is a must to disconnect on both ends.
Note that some cables come with thermal sensing material. This makes the repair more complicated and better suited to a professional service. The plugs will often have more than 4 wires that can be confusing. An amateur trying to fix this may end up destroying the plug completely, resulting in a need for replacement.
How to Test an EV Cable
After a repair job, you will want to know that your cable is back to full functionality and safe to handle. The simplest way to verify that a cable is in good working condition is to plug it in and check that the car is indeed charging. With some charging apps, you can check the stats and verify all is in order.
Another option would be to use an EVSE tester to conduct an insulation resistance test. These kits are suited to checking on the performance of both the cable and charging station. If you sent the cable to a repair service, they should perform this test before returning it to you.