Why isn't my electric car charging?

October 5, 2022
6 min
read

Pull up, hook up, roll out.

We’re talking about refueling! That’s the process we all got used to. And if you’re going electric,your charging process should be just as simple.

But let’s get real. Most EV owners have run into a charging issue at some point. (Fine, not you, Kevin, but your Tesla is like a week old.) Let’s go over the main charging problems you may face as an EV driver and what you can do to fix or avoid them altogether. Get ready to impress your EV friend group.

Electric car charging issues at home

Most likely, you charge your electric car at home. You’re not alone. Around 75% of European EV owners were primarily homecharging as of 2020. But just because you have your emission-free ride set up in a prime charging spot (your driveway or garage) doesn’t mean you can’t run into problems.

Using the right cable

Let’s assume you’ve done your “I’m an EV owner now” research and you aren’t using your regular plug to charge your car like a noob.

Maybe you like living on the edge, a real free spirit. So you’ve powered through your range anxiety and made it home — sort of. You’re at the foot of your driveway and at zero power.

You may be tempted to grab a regular extension cord to help your car reach the charger. (We may then be tempted to slap it out of your hand.)

Do not use an extension cord.

It can’t handle the extra current the charger has, so it probably won’t work, due to — you know — safety features to keep you from electrocuting yourself.

Use your free spirit super strength and push your car up the driveway until it can reach the charger. If you’re going to make it a habit of playing “how close to home and zero I can get”, invest into an extra-long cable that’s safe to use — and will actually charge.

The EV’s automatic charging timer

Your EV probably came with an automatic charging timer. You’re clever, so you may try to set it upfor nightime charging. Typically this has been the time when the cost of energy is lower but this is no longer the guarantee.

On top of that, some electric car owners have learned that this setup will leave you stranded if you try to plug in during the day. (Keep in mind: this can also happen when you’re trying to charge at a public charging station.)

To avoid this annoying surprise, don’t forget to reset your timer. You can do that in your EV app — just remember to change it back for the evening to get back to your savings plan. An even better solution is to have a smart charger, *cough* VOOL *cough*. Our charger managed through the VOOL app lets you focus all those brilliant brain cells on something other than remembering what your EV charging timer is set to.

The timer override button

There’s a button to fix all your problems. Fine, it only fixes the EV timer settings in your car but is a handy feature.

The override function is different depending on the manufacturer. Tesla, for example, effectively allows your car to ignore the scheduled charging time setting by plugging in and then pressing the “start charging” button on your dash or in the Tesla app. Meanwhile, the Nissan Leaf uses the following sequence:

  1. Turn off your car
  2. Open the charging door
  3. Press the timer override button on the dashboard
  4. Start charging

To get the right info for your specific EV make and model, we’ll encourage you poke around in your owner’s manual.

The best scenario is one where you don’t need an “override” button. That comes with a VOOL setup that combines charging at the best rates (which you don’t monitor) with a simple one-click process to charge outside of those rate times — when you need to.

Electric car homecharger issues

Not all EV homechargers are created equal.

Some chargers just aren’t smart. They’re designed like a last century fuel pump — plug in, charge, unplug. If it works — you checked the plug, the chord, the timer — it’s beautifully simple, but we can do better.

As smart chargers have come onto the market owners have been expecting more. Faster charge times and the ability to set schedules through the charger app (instead of the EV automatic charging timer) are great.

But many smart EV chargers fall short when it comes to reliability. That’s not because the charger is garbage, but because the way most chargers connect to the home’s power supply is limited in capacity. They tap out, or at least slow down, when the power supply is insufficient.

Maybe it’s just us, but we thought that charging can’t be that smart if it’s not reliable.

The EV charger is only as good the connection it provides. So we focused VOOL’s building process on plugging into the full potential of three-phase power. Then we built a really smart EV charger for you to connect it with. It’s reliably better.

Charging issues in the wild (Public charging)

We wouldn’t be a good leader in the EV charging world if we didn’t prepare you to leave your homecharging nest for the big, wide world of public EV charging. It’s not as scary as it may seem, especially if you’re ready for some common issues.

The wrong connector

Unless you’re rolling in with a new EV regularly, you’re not likely to encounter this problem at home.

Public charging stations are a different story — sometimes the connector may not fit with your EV. That’s why you should know what type of charger your car uses. Over time, you can put together a list of charging stations with compatible chargers.

Compatibility issues are starting to disappear as manufacturers standardize plugs and connectors. But it’s still important to be prepared, especially if you’re planning a roadtrip. In this case, plan your trip around where you can charge.

Charging station not working

Public charging stations get a lot of usage. No surprise, they’re likely to malfunction from time to time. But how do you know if it’s the station or your car?

First, check the basics — cord and plug locked into place, your payment went through. Then use your car’s app to run diagnostics. That’ll tell you if you’re needing to see the mechanic or just pull into the next spot (we can only assume that if you let the operator know about the issue you’ll have good EV karma).

Payment and software issues

Just like filling up at a gas station, you’ll need to make sure that your payment went through.

Unlike gas station terminals though, most public EV charging stations take payment through an app. We know you’re smart, but we’ve got to say it — make sure you have the app and you’ve opened the correct one. Then, make sure the card linked to your account is input correctly or updated if the old card expired.

To avoid these issues, you can look for free charging stations. Use them for regular around-the-town top-ups or take advantage on long trips by planning your drive based on the charging availability.

Bonus issue: the full charge

If range anxiety is too real for you, you may be the “top-up” at every chance person.

Sooner or later you’ll notice that you can’t. That’s because some rapid chargers will stop charging when a battery is above 80%. It’s a safety feature to help save electricity and prevent overcharging.

So get back in your car and drive. PS! Check out the smartest charging option on the EV market.

About us

We’re VOOL, an Estonian start-up bringing the maximum grid power to everyone. We’re a group of engineers, designers, and power enthusiasts (electrical, not the take over the world kind) making electrical access sustainable and equitable — starting with electric vehicle chargers.
Share

You may be interested