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Why is my electric car not charging? Guide to electric car charging and troubleshooting

Find out how to charge your electric car, the best way to do it, and how to troubleshoot any issues

electric car charging home - house

Finding the best way to charge your electric vehicle (EV) is probably one of the main concerns that motorists have before making the switch from fuel power.

Whether you’ve already made the switch and want to brush up on your knowledge or are weighing up your options, EV charging is easy and straightforward.

Our guide will teach you how to charge your electric car and troubleshoot issues like why your electric car isn’t charging, in our guide.

How to charge an electric car

Charging your electric car is an easy and faff-free process – just how we like it here at cinch.

You’ll just need to plan ahead and keep up to date with the UK’s expanding charging network.

  1. To charge your electric car using a standard charging point, you’ll need to:

  2. Open the charging port that will usually be placed on the side of your EV towards the front of the car

  3. Use your charging cable or the one supplied at the charging point to plug in

  4. Leave your car to chill out and charge up while you go about your business

  5. Pay if you’re using a public charging station

Electric car charging options

When it comes to charging your EV, there are a few different ways you can do so.

All electric cars have different charge times, depending on the size of the car’s battery, the speed of the charger and the amount of electrical current the car can tolerate.

Slow charger

A slow charger will usually be referring to the standard three-pin plugs that can be used at your house.

These will usually operate around 3kW but can be slightly lower.

These chargers are best for hybrid cars as they’ll take much longer to charge a fully electric car. In fact, it can take up to 24 hours.

Fast chargers

Fast chargers usually charge up to 7kW and are much quicker to ‘refuel’ the batteries in modern EVs.

These are the wallbox chargers that you can have fitted at your home rather than using the standard domestic plug socket.

They are a more convenient choice for regular EV charging and can even be boosted to 22kW if you have your wiring upgraded from the standard supply to the three-phase supply more commonly used in commercial buildings.

Most public chargers will be of the fast variety, so you can get a quick boost while on your travels.

Rapid chargers

The quickest chargers currently on offer, rapid charging offers between 43kW and 150kW and can boost an EV battery up to 80% in just half an hour (depending on the model).

You’ll often find rapid chargers at service station charging hubs, but it’s recommended not to use them too regularly.

Rapid charging can have a negative impact on battery health, so you wouldn’t want to charge this way daily.

Rapid chargers use Direct Current (DC) or Alternating Current (AC), which require different connectors to plug into your car.

DC uses the Combine Charging System (CSS) plug and 43kW AC units use a Type 2 connector, but cars that use CCS are also compatible with Type 2, so you shouldn’t get caught out.

red and white tesla superchargers at a station

Best way to charge an electric car

The best way to charge your EV will depend on your circumstances, as there are a few options you can choose from.

If you can fit a wallbox charger at your address, this will likely be the best option for convenience and regular charging.

You’ll be able to plug in and charge up overnight without the need for cables leading through your home and garden.

The option is there to use the standard three-pin plug, but this will mean you’ll have the cables going from your house out to your car.

As these types of chargers offer a slow boost, you’ll also likely be plugged in for a while.

If you live in a flat or don’t have a driveway, locating a nearby charging point is a useful option.

You’ll often find these on lampposts or in car parks, so you might have to park away from home.

You might also have the option to charge your EV at your workplace, and there are grants available in the UK to support EV installation for businesses.

There are other EV grants in the UK and Scotland, notably for landlords and local authorities.

It’s worth seeing if any of these apply to you and could support your move to electric motoring.


Why is my electric car not charging?

You shouldn’t have any issues when charging your EV, but there are a few problems that can arise if you want to be prepared for worst-case scenarios.

EV charging connectors

Not all EV charging connectors are compatible with all EVs, so you might have an issue with charging if you’re using an incompatible cable.

In most cases, you’ll know your cable is not compatible with the charging point as it simply won’t fit.

Rapid car chargers usually have tethered charging cables (this means they always have one attached), but public and home chargers require you to plug in your own cable.

You’ll need to do your research beforehand to see what options work best with your car.

Automatic charging settings for electric cars

If you find that you’ve plugged your EV into a charging point correctly but it hasn’t started charging, you may have set an automatic timer from your smartphone app that isn’t allowing you to charge.

Setting these timers is great for overnight charging but can be a pain if you forget that you’ve set them.

Keep an eye on your app to make sure you’re turning these timers off when you don’t need them.

Car charging and RFIS cards

Radio Frequency Identification (RFIS) cards are used like pre-payment cards to top up with funds and pay for your EV charging.

If you’re trying to use a public charger and want to pay with an RFIS card, you might have issues if the card isn’t compatible.

A wide range of cards and payment methods are used across the UK charging network, so check ahead to see the best ways to pay.

Faulty charging points

If you’re struggling to charge your EV, the fault could be with the charging point or cable.

It’s a good idea to test out another method of charging to see if you’re having the same issue, or run a test through your charging app to identify problems.

If you find faults with a public charging point, you can report these to the charging point operator so they can get it sorted.


Top tips and best practices

There are a few tips and tricks you can use for ensuring you get the best EV charge and maintain battery health.

Safety is important too, especially when charging at home.

Avoid extension leads

If you’re using a charging cable that’s plugged into a socket at home, you should avoid using extension leads.

Domestic extension leads are not built to work with the kind of power needed to charge an electric car and will likely not even work.

In the worst-case scenario, charging an EV with an extension lead can lead to fires.

A better idea is to shop around for an extra-long EV charging cable or locate a public charging point.

A rapid charge isn’t always the best charge...

Most experts state that the best way to charge your EV and retain good battery health is to use a slow charger.

Rapid chargers are convenient in a rush but can cause a decline in battery health if used too regularly.

Rapid charging in extremely hot weather can also cause the car battery to overheat, and charging can be slower on cold days.

Using a rapid charger occasionally shouldn’t cause any damage to the car’s battery, but over-usage can have a negative effect.

...And neither is a full charge

Keeping your battery charge between 20% and 80% charge is best practice for lithium-ion batteries, and the same goes for your car.

Hitting extremely low or high levels of charge can damage battery health over time, so try and stay between those two figures.

A full charge is best for long road trips but usually isn’t needed for daily use.

A purple banner reading 'home charging sorted' from myenergi

Download charging apps and plan ahead

The EV charging network in the UK is growing rapidly, with charging stations popping up all over.

Before you head out on a larger journey, check what charging stations are on your route and download any apps you need to be able to use them.

It’s also a good idea to get to know the charging stations local to you and make sure you have the apps needed for these as well.

You don’t want to get caught out with no signal, unable to download an app or pay for your EV boost.

Cool your battery before charging

If you’re not in a rush, it’s a good idea to let your EV battery cool down before you plug in and charge.

Charging a cool battery is better for overall battery health and will ensure you get the optimal capacity.

Extreme temperatures are not ideal for EV charging as the battery will struggle to reach its optimal temperature.

Read more about charging electric cars: