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What To Do If Your EV Won’t Unplug From a Charger

Your electric vehicle is attached to a charging station or wall-mounted charger, and you cannot pull the handle out. Here’s what to do to make it let go.

Charging electric vehicles comes with challenges. One issue many EV owners struggle with at some point is a charging handle that will not uncouple from the vehicle. Don’t panic. There are some simple things you can do to make it let go.

Step One - Unlock the Vehicle
Many electric vehicles use the door lock system to hold the handle in place when you charge. The idea is that someone will not disconnect the car from charging while you are away from it. The single most common reason that an EV won’t let go of the charger handle is that it needs to be unlocked. Use your fob or phone to unlock the car. Try it again.

Step Two - Call Your EV Charging Supplier
If you are charging in public and the charger handle won’t disconnect, call customer service. Use your app, your browser, or the number listed on the charging station itself to call for help. During a recent road trip in the American West, TFL Autos found themselves at an Electrify America station charging a MINI. The charger would not release their MINI. A call to customer service resolved the problem quickly. You can see the report in the video above. Time Stamp 28 Minutes.

Step Three - Manual Override
If you have a vehicle attached to any charger and nothing else works, try your owner’s manual. EVs usually have a manual override system to unlock the charging handle if all else fails. In a Tesla, there is a simple little grab loop you pull located in the trunk area near the charge port. It frees the charger with a pull from your finger, and off you go. See the above video for a visual guide.

Image of Mustang Mach-E manual charger handle release courtesy of Ford

In a Ford Mustang Mach-E, the manual release is located in the frunk area. See the image above for details.

Step 4- Try Your SOS Button
All modern cars come with some form of GM's OnStar. There is usually a button for SOS and a button for customer assistance. Try both. The person at the other end of the call may have some ideas to help you.

Step 5 - Call Roadside Assistance
Every new vehicle, most insurance policies, and every extended warranty program come with a roadside assistance plan at no added cost. Use them. If you have AAA, that is also an option. Request that a technical be sent to your location to help you.

If you own an electric vehicle and have had the charger port become stuck, tell us how you overcame the challenge in the comments below.

John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. John's interest in EVs goes back to 1990 when he designed the thermal control system for an EV battery as part of an academic team. After earning his mechanical engineering degree, John completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers, in the semiconductor industry, and in biotech. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on TikTok @ToknCars, on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin


Ken Stone (not verified)    August 2, 2021 - 11:05AM

At a Nissan DC fast charger last winter, customer service number on unit was called and they could do nothing. Apparently the the plugin handle had frozen water internally from a frozen-rain event (climate crisis/global weirding). I hammered on it since building was closed, (10pm) finally released after a hour of banging on it while in -14 °f plus wind-chill.

LAZARU5 (not verified)    August 23, 2023 - 6:16AM

Grizzl-E EVSE J1772 connector got stuck in 2022 Taycan. After struggling for a few hours I flipped the circuit breaker to off position and connector was released.

KingSwac (not verified)    August 29, 2023 - 12:12PM

I was stranded at an Electrify America stall in Ennis, Texas. Was on phone for probably 40 minutes with person walking me thru several protocols which failed. They ultimately dispatched a technician to help and I waited another 2 hours. The technician tried a few user unlock protocols-they failed. He then opened the cabinet to the stall and triggered a manual release that instantly unlocked the nozzle from my EQS 580.