An electric vehicle charging cable can get stuck in the port of either the car or the charge point you’re using. This is not uncommon, and the problem can either be mechanical – a pin or latch simply not moving the way it should – or electronic, i.e. a safety, security or identity system malfunctioning in some way.
A number of simple steps can be taken which in many cases will solve the problem. If they don’t, help is available. Read the steps below.
If The Cable is Stuck In The Charge Point:
Whether the cable is stuck in your home charger or a public charge point, the first step is to check that the correct disengagement process has been followed. In particular, the cable needs to be removed from the car before it’s removed from the charge point. If things have been done in the wrong order, put everything back how it was and try again.
Push the cable in further
It may be that the cable when being pulled out has somehow become jammed up against the locking mechanism. Try pushing the cable further into the socket – as far as it will go. Then have another try at pulling it out again. This might be enough to free it.
Check for advice from other drivers
If you’re at a public charge point, check online to see if other users have registered any difficulties with the charge point. Zap Map is one app that allows users to leave comments, but you may already be using a similar app.
One problem that occurs is when the charge point does not recognise your card when you return to the vehicle after leaving it to charge. If this happens, or it’s a similar problem with the electronic operation of the charge point, trying to “reset” things may do the trick.
Plug the cable back into your car so that it mates and starts charging again. Then repeat the process to finish charging. If that doesn’t work, start the car and power it up for a few moments to get the battery cycle going, then turn it off and try to finish charging again.
If it is a card recognition issue, try holding the card up on different parts of the charge point interface, as the sensor that reads the card may not be exactly where it’s shown on the display.
Call the emergency number on the charge point
If this is happening at home, it may be a matter of getting in touch with the supplier of the home charger. If you’re at a public charge point, there should be a 24-hour emergency number displayed at the point itself. The operator of the charge point should have the power to unlock or deactivate the point remotely, as well as giving advice.
Before doing this, make sure you have the serial number of the point to hand. This may not be the one that’s visibly displayed on the charge point. As the EV infrastructure market is so dynamic, a lot of charge points have changed hands and the obvious serial number may not apply any more. The serial number shown online on an app is generally more likely to be the right one. The operator may also need to know which number socket you are having trouble with, if there is more than one socket on the charge point.
Some charge points – but not all – have an emergency stop mechanism. Check the instructions on display. It is also possible to switch off the power to the entire charge point, though it’s likely an engineer will need to come out to do this. It may be worth checking if anyone else on site can help, though it’s unlikely, as the equipment is operated by the supplier of the charge point. So phoning the emergency number provided is the best bet.
Drive off and leave the cable behind
If you are out and about and in a hurry, it’s always an option to drive off and leave your cable behind. If you are unable to release the cable it’s unlikely anyone else will be able to either, so it won’t be stolen. If you have followed all the instructions and notified the charge point operator of the problem, you should get the cable back from them – or you could return later if you are near home and try again.
Some EV drivers have manually modified their cable so that it isn’t possible to lock it in place. This is easily done by removing the slot that locks it. The disadvantage is that anyone could then theoretically pull the cable out of the charge point at any time. It shouldn’t really be necessary.
If The Cable is Stuck In The Car:
Double-check that you’ve followed the instructions and done everything in the right order. The cable should be removed from the car before it’s removed from the charge point. If this hasn’t been done, put things back how they were and try again.
Unlock, lock, unlock
Unlocking the car should release the cable. If it doesn’t, lock the car then unlock it again. It may be that it wasn’t locked when you walked away so it’s locked when you think it’s unlocked. It’s worth doing this several times just to make sure.
Stand by the port and unlock using the fob, then try to pull the cable out immediately. The car may have a cable re-locking system that might kick in after a few seconds.
Try unlocking the car using the manual unlock on the driver’s door, to rule out any issues with the key fob.
Lock the car and walk away (out of the key fob’s range, as much as 50 metres). Then come back and try again. This has worked for some drivers.
Push it in more
It’s possible that the cable when being pulled out has jammed right up against the locking mechanism. Try pushing the cable further into the socket – as far as it will go. Then have another try at pulling it out again.
Manual cable release
The vehicle should have a manual release mechanism for the cable. This may be in the boot, for example. It may not be very visible and could be underneath some upholstery or within a nook. Check the vehicle manual.
Push the latch clear manually
With a Type 2 cable, a latch closes over the top of the socket. Sometimes the latch simply doesn’t move back far enough out of the way for the plug to be removed. It may be possible with a screwdriver to simply push the latch out of the way to free the cable. But be very cautious about using a screwdriver around electrical cables!
Remove the entire locking mechanism
Some drivers have temporarily resolved the issue by removing the entire locking mechanism. On some vehicles this would be a matter of unscrewing it from the front of the car. A certain degree of confidence is required for this, as well as extreme care given the high voltages in the vicinity. It is also only a temporary fix as the original fault with the cable or port will still remain.
Call for Assistance
If you have breakdown cover, the major companies claim to have high-voltage trained technicians who can help. If the problem is with the vehicle and not the charge point and nothing else has worked, now might be the time to call your breakdown company or find a garage with electric vehicle expertise which can help.
A stuck cable is a common enough problem that plenty of other drivers have experienced it. The above simple steps may help to resolve the issue and save a lot of time. If they don’t, seek help. Don’t take risks.