Cost has been a huge factor in helping drive the sales of EV vehicles. Besides the better-priced variety of vehicles currently available, it is clear that running costs are much cheaper when compared to fossil fuel-dependent alternatives. Drivers that make the switch can now expect to save thousands of pounds each year that would have gone to fuelling stations and other maintenance.
While EV vehicles are more cost-friendly, charging issues can be of concern. On average, EV vehicles can travel between 100-310 miles on a single charge. This means that for those with longer commutes or extended travel, it is important to get a handle on charging issues, especially when away from your home charging station.
The problem of EV vehicles not charging is one that many newcomers and seasoned EV vehicle owners encounter. These failures can be particularly stressful when you are far from home. Before you however panic and start calling for a tow to your dealership, you may want to check on some of these common problems that even the less than tech-savvy may find surprisingly simple to solve.
1. Failure to Properly Adjust the Charging Timer
Many vehicles and charging stations come with helpful apps that allow drivers to set their charging times for off-peak hours when tariffs are lower. This is another cost-saving benefit that is highly convenient as it allows your car battery to automatically start charging and stop without you needing to manually undertake the task. You just plug it in when you arrive home and by morning you are sorted. The charger automatically turns on at the set start time and switches off when fully charged or end time reaches.
If you, however, make extensive use of your vehicle during the day, you may need to recharge again before you return home. This means trying to charge our vehicle outside the set off-peak hours. By adjusting your preferred charging hours on your app, your vehicle can then begin charging. If this is a once-off experience, do remember to revert to your old settings once you return home. Also note that some apps have proven a bit tricky to adjust settings on smartphones, and may require you log-in via a laptop or desktop to effect changes.
Some drivers have also reported resolving this issue by setting the same time for the start and end time for charging. This allows for charging anytime the car is plugged in. If your app allows you to switch off the timer, this may also solve the problem. Do however note that this may cost you valuable savings when charging at home during peak tariff hours.
2. Incorrect Use of “Timer Override” Button
EV vehicles have a ‘Timer Override’ button on their dashboards. Check for a button that has a clock face with the circle that ends with an electric plug at 9 o’clock. It may also be labelled ‘OFF’. It is advisable to only press on this button after you have brought the vehicle to a complete stop and switched it off. Some drivers have also recommended opening the charging door as well, depending on the model. Try doing this as well to see if pressing the ‘Timer Override’ button afterwards will result in the charging indicator light coming on, thus allowing you to proceed.
As per most EV car manuals, you should have a 15-minute window in which to start charging your vehicle. If you do not plug in your vehicle for charging, your old settings will revert preventing any charging outside the set parameters.
3. Daisy Chaining The EV Cables
Sometimes EV drivers imagine they have just enough juice to get them home only to have their car die several feet further away from their charging station than their cable will reach. Other times it could be that there are two EV vehicles in the home and the one further away from the charging station is poorly positioned for the cable to reach. Whatever the case, many drivers think that if they can just add an extension that will reach the charging point, all will be well.
Daisy-chaining refers to the use of household extension cables to lengthen granny EV cables. Unfortunately, most extension cables are designed for lower power domestic use and cannot support the higher current that EV cables are designed for. It can be dangerous to plug-in EV cables this way as it can result in an electric fire or shock, especially when done outdoors.
Although connecting a Type 2 EV cable to a granny cable may seem safer, it may still prevent charging. This is because the female connector that sends data to the vehicle is recessed, ensuring no current flows even with a live connection.
The best solution for this is to carefully position your charging station during installation so it can easily reach any vehicle that needs it. Choose a Type 1 or 2 connector with adequate length to reach the charging point. You can easily buy safe and reliable EV cables, as long as 20 metres, that are more than adequate for this use.
4. Using The Wrong Connector
One of the key challenges with EV charging is that there is no universal connector for all car models and the varied chargers available. For each type of charger, there are a set of specific connectors that can be used. For instance, for slow charging stations that rate somewhere between 3-6 kW, one can use a 3-pin 3 kW, Type 1 & 2 3-6 kW, or Commando 3-6 kW AC connectors. On the other hand, rapid charging stations require the use of Type 2 42 kW AC, CHAdeMo 50 kW DC, CCS 50-350 Kw DC, or Tesla Type 2 120 kW DC connectors.
When installing your home charging station, you will naturally have taken this into account to ensure the charger and connectors are compatible. However, when away from home and in need of a charge, you will need to be more careful. More so if you are driving an EV from the Asian market that typically uses Type 1 connectors. European cars and charging points are usually tailored for Type 2 connectors.
Check with your charging network provider’s website to confirm which locations will work with your connectors. Be sure to do this when planning a long trip so you know which locations you can stop over to top up. Check your manual or consult your dealer to ascertain what type of charging port your vehicle has.
5. Charging Station Malfunctioning
As part of the equipment that facilitates charging, you may be experiencing failures because the charging station itself has a problem. Always begin by checking the charging timer. If you plug in your vehicle outside the set hours, your car will not be charged.
If your car is still not charged yet was properly plugged in during the designated hours, then do check your app. It should be able to run remote diagnostics and indicate if there is a malfunction that calls for repair. In this case, call your installer to help make repairs or replacement fittings.
If you are encountering a similar hardware problem with a charging station away from home, do get in touch with the service provider. Most will quickly dispatch a team to check on the station and fix the problem.
6. Charging Cable Challenges
This problem can take a couple of forms previously mentioned. First could be the length of the cable. When dealing with a home charging station, repositioning your car to bring the charging point closer to the charger can help. Alternatively, consider investing in a longer EV cable. Avoid daisy-chaining, especially with extension cords designed for domestic use.
The other problem has to do with ensuring you have the right connector for the inlet you are plugging into. With home charging stations EV drivers will certainly be sure of compatibility. When charging away from home, it may be more complex. This is especially common with stations equipped for DC fast charging. Those that offer slower single-phase AC charging can accommodate just about any model of EV vehicle. Ascertaining what type of connector works with your vehicle and what charging stations matchup is the best way to avoid disappointment.
7. Car Is Fully Charged
Just as with other electronics like smartphones, once the battery is fully charged, charging stops. Many of the EV apps currently in use are advanced enough to detect this full charge and automatically have the charger disconnect. This is necessary because a charger can continue charging even once the battery is full. This is because certain components of the vehicle remain on and can continuously yet slowly discharge the battery.
When charging on commercial premises or service stations, you will likely be using an app like Electric Highway. These apps allow EV drivers to check on the battery level and even receive notifications when the car is fully charged. Note that with rapid charging stations, you may not always achieve 100% full charge. They are designed to taper off around the 80% level to avoid battery damage.
8. Requires Payment
Despite all the promotion of EVs as the wave of the future when it comes to motoring, those investing in the support infrastructure need to cover their costs. There are many office buildings and public car parks where you can get a free charge.
However, most service stations do charge a fee. To access their services, you will need to download some smartphone app or make use of a radio frequency identification card (RFID). Using these tools is usually paid for through access to a debit or credit card from which they will make their charges. These are typically based on price per kW and a connection fee. Enrolling as a member of some charge point networks may entitle you to some deep discounts.
If using an RFID card or paying via a debit card, you may need to pre-load cash to allow you access a fee-based charge point. Exhausting these funds may result in an inability to charge your vehicle at certain locations. If you have a problem getting your RFID card or app to work, seek out free stations in locations like Tesco or look up nearby options on your Zap-Map. Alternatively, get in touch with the provider to switch to a valid credit card.
9. Software Challenges
We have already seen the various ways hardware malfunctions or shortcomings can result in trouble when trying to charge an EV. The software can however also create problems that leave EV owners unable to charge their vehicles. As mentioned, some apps can be problematic to use, especially when accessed via a smartphone. Many EV drivers have mentioned having an easier time manipulating settings when they access the app or site on a laptop or desktop.
Online connectivity can also be spotty in some places, making it difficult to use apps that are often necessary in locations such as service station charging stations. If you are unable to find a good Wi-Fi signal, consider switching to mobile data which should connect you to the 4G network.