Charging fault, charging port locked and won't let go

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Apr 25, 2016
We have a 2015 SEL e-Golf permanently attached to our house at the moment due to a charging fault. Just called roadside assistance and they said wait 25 minutes to see if car resets itself.

Just wondered how many people this issue is affecting. Our symptoms seem to be exactly the same as those reported on a thread that was originally discussing the fact that the charging port is never locking for some people. How I wish I had that problem! (Except, not the arc faulting. That's terrifying, especially since I'm often charging in a downpour in our driveway.)

Here's the description from the other thread where my "can't unlock" problem was mentioned in passing:

"my '15 SEL would not unlock and release the charge plug at a public charging station. The eGolf was 98%+ charged and still charging when I unlocked the doors. When I didn't immediately remove the plug, the system threw a fault when it attempted to resume charging, the charge light turned red, and the lock wouldn't release. Tried restarting the charge cycle via Car-Net, but was unable due to the fault. The emergency release procedure outlined in the owner's manual couldn't override the fault, either. Even "rebooted" by disconnecting the 12v battery, without any success.

After multiple calls to Car-Net, it was determined there is no other emergency release procedure. I had to physically yank, twist, and pry the plug until the charge port partially separated, breaking free from whatever supports hold it in place. Only at that point did the charge light turn amber and I was able to unlock the plug with the key fob. VW Customer Support has been great so far, but I've asked for the engineering team to look into how it is possible to recode the '15 eGolfs to prevent this from reoccuring."

In my situation, car was presumably fully charged after sitting in my driveway all afternoon after a morning drive. Went to unlock car as normal, but charge light turned red. We've got a hard wired Clipper Creek, so I tried flipping off the circuit breakers to turn off power to charging system. Car was unperturbed. Still had right led on charging port and refused to unlock charging port. Didn't care at all whether EVSE had power or not.

Charging port light is solid red, then turns off. Then if I try unlocking car, charging port light turns amber for about ten seconds, then solid red. Light turns off completely after about a minute. Lather, rinse, repeat. Every once in a while, have a short period of green light, but then goes to red again. Have tried all manner of locking / unlocking, pushing immediate charge and unlock on key fob (procedure in owner's manual), unlocking from passenger door, turning car on / off, etc. Had the boys in the car all ready to go to their sports practices for about 20 minutes as I ran through all the possible permutations. Fun for the whole family.

We have almost 10,000 miles on the car. We recently took it in for the recall. Any connection between that and the charge fault? Or does this just happen randomly? I guess I should be glad this problem happened at home and not at a public charger. For those who have experienced that, I feel your pain, but not really since I am sitting in my home office typing this, rather than being stuck in a parking lot somewhere sketchy.

Talked to a service guy who said if we can't convince the car to release the charger, then we'll have to physically disconnect the charger from our house and have the car towed. We live in Maine; our nearest service center is about 45 minutes south of our town.

Surely there could be a way to physically unlock the charging cable once power is off, no? Come on German engineering, figure this out!

-Frustrated Fred the EV Maineiac in Brunswick, Maine
Whenever my car gets stuck, you have to unplug the charger, lock and unlock the car a couple of times. This is on 240V, never used 120V
Car is now in shop. Technician there said he was able to use a 90-degree lock pick to push in the pin to release the charging cord handle. I would not recommend trying this at home.

But at least I now have my charging equipment back and reattached to my house. Fix will be to replace the car's charge port and wiring harness. Will be at least a week in the shop.

I've seen at least three reports of this happening to 2015 SEL owners. Believe me, it's not a simple question of turning off the power to the charging equipment, locking / unlocking doors, following the "emergency unlock" procedure in the owner's manual. Pin gets stuck and you have to manually force it to unplug the cord handle. Once you have the red light, charge fault, and car says to take to service, you're stuck.

In my case, it was easy enough to disconnect my charging equipment from my house and toss in the car for the tow to the dealer for service. Would be a different story on a public charger.

Not clear to me whether the 2016 model has fixed the issue, but I haven't seen any reports of this happening to any vehicles other than the 2015 SEL trim. Also not clear what triggers the fault. When this happened to me, car was plugged in to our Clipper Creek HCS-40. Had driven the car in the morning, plugged it in as usual for the afternoon. In the evening, unlocked the car and instead of unlocking the charger, we got a charge fault. Clear sunny day, no rain. So really no idea what made the car think it was having a problem.

I don't know if anyone reading this forum knows how to get VW to write up a technical service bulletin. But it would be good to have this problem brought to the attention of VW's roadside assistance program. They had no plan for what to do or advise in this situation. It is a difficult thing to explain over the phone. And there is no way your average tow truck driver would know what to do to get the plug out. The driver who picked up my car had never seen an electric car before.
Glad to hear you are getting this resolved, but sorry that you had to go through all this trouble. I suspect this is related to the programming VW has instituted in certain e-Golf models (I think it's only the cars with the CCS vehicle inlet) that locks the J1772 plug during charging and keeps it locked after charging has completed. I already complained to VW about this several times and I also submitted a complaint to NHTSA. It would be great if you could also submit a complaint to NHSTA. As we all know, VW sometimes needs government force to do the right thing.
I'd be happy to submit a report to NHTSA.

Never done it before. I assume best way is via their web site?

I'll give it a try. Anything else worth doing? Report to dealers or other government agencies?

Getting stranded is bad enough, but getting stranded while your car is tying up a charging station while tethered to a building is even worse.
evmaniac said:
I'd be happy to submit a report to NHTSA.

Never done it before. I assume best way is via their web site?

I'll give it a try. Anything else worth doing? Report to dealers or other government agencies?

Getting stranded is bad enough, but getting stranded while your car is tying up a charging station while tethered to a building is even worse.
This is where you go to "File a Vehicle Safety Complaint". This issue is not technically a safety issue since the car did do a good job of immobilizing itself, but I can't think of a better place to report it.
Thanks for providing the link!

I do believe it's a safety issue because if you are stuck somewhere your personal safety may be at risk.
After a week in the shop, our e-Golf is back in our driveway, happily charging away.

Here's what the service invoice says:

"Tech found charging socket to have failed. Locking charging port in place. Removed cable by manual over ride."

The tech explained that this was done by improvisation. He managed to use a 90-degree lockpick to push back the locking pin.

The "manual override" procedure (pushing buttons on the car and on the key at the same time) described in the owner's manual doesn't work. You really have to get manual to override the locking pin if you have a charging port failure.

The service invoice continues, "Authorized replacement of port and wire to charging hardware in front. Removed and replaced charging port and charging lines. No faults returned. Vehicle now charging as designed."

This required getting parts from VW that are only authorized by a "level 2" something. Also required removing the battery from the bottom of the car so the wiring harness from the charging port to the front of the car can be accessed.

Parts were

1 5GE-971-531-J Wiring Set
1 12E-998-152-A Repair Kit

All covered under warranty.

Service desk told me that VW is aware of this problem with a few of the 2015 SELs but there is no TSB. Apparently only affects a small number of vehicles.

So anyone with a 2015 SEL, hope you dodge this bullet!
I filed a complaint on NHTSA's web site.

You can search for complaints for your car's make, model and year. I found one other complaint about the charging port, and several about the car abruptly losing power, for which there has been a recall.

When we leased our e-Golf, a friend said VWs are great, except for their electrical systems. Too true!
On one occasion on my 2015 eGolf my charger connector locked to the charging port and the red fault light came on.

I tried to get it to disconnect with all kinds of key presses, door openings, power cycles, and finally called the roadside assistance.

They told me that I could press the unlock button twice in quick succession and that I would then have 30 seconds to remove the cable despite the fault light still being lit. It worked. The light was red but the connector released.

I had my owner's manual out and saw this thread so here's the procedure that didn't work for the OP:

Same problem here. Happened once at work using L1, but after about 15 minutes, I was able to free EVSE. No such luck today with L1 in my garage - can't release EVSE. WTH VW???? I'm dead in the water (or garage) until I can get it towed to a dealer? Ridiculous.
I tried the "immediate charge" button on the vehicle simultaneously with the unlock key fob - nope. I also tried disconnecting and connecting my 12V dice. LAME.
Any other advice would be appreciated (yes, I've pressed the unlock key fob a zillion times), otherwise I'm wasting my morning tomorrow getting it towed to the dealer.
Has anyone had the issue of the car thinking the battery is full but showing low miles? My car is showing 67 miles and a full charge. It will not charge more and I've tried my home charger as well as two commercial chargers. Any advice would be appreciated.
Ktandem said:
Has anyone had the issue of the car thinking the battery is full but showing low miles? My car is showing 67 miles and a full charge. It will not charge more and I've tried my home charger as well as two commercial chargers. Any advice would be appreciated.
This is a separate issue from what is described in this thread. If the little analog "fuel" gauge in the instrument cluster says the battery is full, a low range shown just indicates that you have recently driven with particularly low efficiency. If your driving habits or terrain changes, the number will go back to "normal", whatever that means for your situation.

Just remember, the range number is not a direct indication of battery level, just a guess at how far the car thinks you may be able to drive. They're not the same thing.
:evil: :evil: This has happened to my 2015 SEL eGolf yesterday. Charge indicator light turns red and won't release the charger. I bring my 110V charger at work and charge it at work the whole day. When I came down to unlock it, it did not release. I called roadside assistance and I went through the unlock procedures with them above and none of them worked. I had it towed to the nearest dealer and I will report here on what they say.
This happened to me tonight. I pressed and held the "charge" button in the charge port, the one above the "timer charge" or "delayed charge" button. While holding the charge button in, I pressed the "unlock" icon button on my key fob/g on key.

I had to press the charger handle in fully first, to release tension, before doing the above procedure, and then the charge port unlocked, and the charger handle came right out.

So, after tugging and trying to remove the charger handle unsuccessfully, please push the charger handle all the way back in firmly before you attempt the above procedure to unlock the handle.
This is the most glaring problem on the e-Golf.

VW needs to do it like the Leaf: a switch on the dash that let's you unlock it all the time, or lock it only until it is done charging, or lock it.

This is not only a pain for home charging, but it makes public charging a big problem - because you have to be there to unlock it, if someone else is waiting to charge.
I've 19,391 miles on a 2015 SEL and had to go through this process every day since new.

Drive home, Turn off, get out of car, close door, open charging port and plug in the VW supplied L1 (or Juicebox L2), lock car by touching outside of passenger door handle.
Car charges overnight for my chosen departure time.

In the morning, you're gonna need coffee......

Place fingers inside passenger door handle ("Click" Doors unlock)
<1 second later the car unlocks the charging port.
Pull the plug!!!!!
~1 second later the car relocks the charging port.

Because I'm on the passenger side I can actually hear the port unlock and port relock functions.
Works just the same if I use the Juicebox Pro.

Hope this helps