10 reasons an electric car won’t start

10 reasons an electric car won’t start

red car charging - electric car won't start
Your EV may be reliable but it’s still not invincible.

If your electric car won’t start, there are a few possible causes for that. Some are serious while others are easily solvable.

Recently, Tesla unveiled the controversial all-electric vehicle Tesla Cybertruck, gaining significant public attention.

With that kind of regard, and the Tesla Model 3 sold out in the US, it’s no wonder why the EV market continues to soar. 

Indeed, more people are investing in Electric Vehicles (EVs) or Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs). In no time, they might replace the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) cars, making a huge positive impact on the environment. 

Nevertheless, along with this rise is the inevitable problems they have to face as well. As a result, plenty of EV users find themselves questioning if they made the right decision upon facing starting problems. 

What could be the possible reasons when an EV won’t start? 

In this blog post, we discuss 10 reasons why your electric car won’t start. 

Why your electric car won’t start

Generally, EVs are cheaper and easier to maintain than gas-powered cars. Nevertheless, they are not an exception to problems such ;

1. Its battery suffered due to your bad charging habits.

The Nissan Leaf charging an electric car with the power cable supply plugged in, close up - electric car won't start
Neglect and poor charging habits shorten your batteries’ life.

One of the biggest worries that EV owners face is running out of battery power in the middle of driving. This feeling even has a name, which is Range Anxiety.

Now, most EVs like the Nissan Leaf have reliable battery lives, but your EV can still suffer due to bad charging habits. 

In fact, an EV’s battery might cease functioning normally because of chemical damage from overcharging. This damages a battery because of the excessive heat from recharging. 

Moreover, regularly draining it to 0% will significantly damage a battery because it will take more energy to recharge more than 80% power that was lost. 

Therefore, if your car won’t start despite it being fully charged, your poor charging habits might have something to do with it. 

You should book an inspection with a manufacturer-approved service center immediately, so you can avoid Range Anxiety. 

Related: Are Used Electric Cars Any Good? An Honest Buyer’s Guide

2. Your EV’s converter/inverter unit or inverter has overheated. 

Were you skipping your required maintenance schedule? Or were you driving a lot during the summer season? 

It could be possible that your car’s inverter or converter/inverter unit overheated. Most EVs have converter/inverter units while others like the Toyota Prius only have inverters. 

Nonetheless, both converter/inverter units and inverters generate excessive amounts of heat. That’s why they have their own ventilation systems, so they will continue functioning well.  

Therefore, if their cooling systems accumulate dust or debris, they won’t provide the required ventilation, rendering the converter/inverter to overheat. 

The C/I unit or inverter is important because it supplies electricity to the electric motor. As a result, the converter/inverter unit suffers, your EV will have difficulty in propulsion because it doesn’t have enough electricity. 

This will additionally impair the electrical drive system, possibly causing a starting problem. 

3. The battery has run its course. 

Electric car lithium battery pack and power connections. Blue toned. - electric car won't start
Your battery may have a long life but it can still die after a few years of continuous usage.

With time, your EV’s battery will fade away as you travel longer distances. As a result, it will take longer to recharge its power, compared to when it was newly purchased. 

For instance, you might wait for more than 24 hours before you can replenish the battery. That might be why your electric car won’t start.

If your EV isn’t starting, its battery may have run its course. Just like ICEs, EV batteries will also let you drive up to a certain mileage until it ceases to function. 

Of course, factors such as environment and driving habits can either slow or quicken its depletion. 

In general, during an EV battery’s lifetime, you can drive more for more than 100,000 miles.

Now, if you drive around the city, you won’t have to worry about shorter mileage since you won’t require high-speed driving. That means your EV won’t likely overwork its battery.

4. Your EV has a factory defect.

Is your EV charging but won’t simply start? 

If you have a relatively new electric vehicle that refuses to start, it might have a factory defect. 

It doesn’t always happen all the time but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Therefore, you might want to contact your manufacturer and let them check it. 

For instance, just recently in November 2019, some Tesla cars were under investigation for having possible battery defects. 

Apparently, some of Tesla’s lithium-ion batteries suddenly burst into flames. According to their lawyer, Tesla is already investigating it.

Although lithium-ion battery fires take longer to ignite than gasoline-induced fires, you must waste no time and let a nearby service provider inspect it. 

5. It has been a victim of road salt. 

Road salt stains on car, winter driving concept
These are stains from road salt.

EVs have a simpler, more minimalistic design compared to ICEs. 

Under the hood, you won’t see much except the traction motor, converter, controller, the batteries, charger, gear reducer/transmission, and cooling system. 

However, that doesn’t mean they’re invincible to the dangers of corrosion. 

Usually, in EVs, engine motors are closely located to the wheels. That means the former is more likely exposed to contact and external elements like road salt. 

Road salt is notoriously corrosive. It’s the number one cause of damage to ICE cars, especially in colder areas. 

Besides that, your EV’s motor might be in close contact with pebbles, which might chip it. 

Do you drive by an area where there is a lot of salt and moisture in the air? That’s a possible reason why your electric car won’t start.

You might want to call a mechanic to check if rust has accumulated. Corrosion will not only damage your EV but will also lead to short circuits.

6. You need to replace your key fob’s battery. 

The good thing about electric vehicles, such as Tesla and Nissan Leaf, is that you can still unlock and start your car using your smartphone. Tesla’s Model 3 is even keyless. 

However, it would still be helpful to have an extra hand, such as a key fob, when gaining access to your car. Besides, your smartphone’s battery dies out, too. 

If your EV won’t start, you can try rebooting your car using its app on your smartphone. Use your keyfob to start it again.

Didn’t work? You might need to replace your key fob’s battery. Even though it doesn’t show a low battery alert, it wouldn’t hurt to try replacing it on your own. You can even save yourself a trip to the nearest service center. 

7. It needs a quick reboot. 

power button
Rebooting might fix your EV in a jiffy.

Electric vehicles may be amazing, but they’re not invincible against a regular glitch. And to solve that, you don’t always need to commute to the local service center. If your electric car won’t start, you might need a good ol’ reboot. 

Whether you have a Nissan, a Tesla, or a Volkswagen that refuses to start despite the battery being fully recharged, you don’t have to worry right away. It might be just because of a glitch. 

Therefore, don’t hesitate to reboot it. Wait for more than 10 to 15 minutes before restarting your EV with your key fob or smartphone and see if it works. 

In a Tesla Model 3, you can reboot the screen, the screen and the CPU, and the vehicle itself.

If rebooting your car didn’t help your EV restart, you can always send it to the service center. Most probably they will try disconnecting its battery and then reboot your car. 

8. The charge port switch might be frozen. 

Is your EV stuck to its charging port? 

That might be the reason why your car isn’t starting. 

Now, if you live in a colder area, it might be possible that your charger’s port switch is frozen. 

For example, in a Nissan Leaf, that signals your car that it’s still in recharging mode, so it won’t start until it’s unplugged. 

If this is your case, you can try using a hairdryer to melt the ice that accumulated on your charger’s port switch. 

Meanwhile, if your cable is stuck to the charging port, you have to manually unlock it using the manual cable inside the trunk. 

Now, to start your EV properly, always make sure that it’s unplugged from its charging port. 

9. You need to replace the 12V battery.

Rechargeable Car Battery 12V Accumulator with Abstract Label on a white background
Maybe your 12V needs to be changed immediately.

In your EV, you will find two batteries: the lithium-ion battery and the 12V lead-acid battery. 

Now, if your battery is completely drained and your EV won’t start, you will need to jumpstart the 12V battery system, so the lithium-ion battery will start recharging. 

If that didn’t help your EV start, then it the 12V battery might be in bad shape. It’s probably time that you replace it with a new one.  

You can do it on your own by buying one from an automobile shop and putting it in. One might cost you more than $80. 

On the other hand, you can let a mechanic do the job for you. Although, they might try recharging your old battery first before putting in the new one to see if it still works. 

Remember to keep your old battery, in case your new one starts acting up. 

10. The software update failed. 

Your EV might have attempted to do an over-the-air software update, drained its battery, and so it failed. 

In other cases, one Nissan Leaf owner wondered why his EV wouldn’t start. Turns out the software update completely drained the battery, which is why the EV won’t start. 

To avoid this from happening again, you have to adjust your EV’s settings, so it won’t update automatically without your permission. 

On the other hand, you can manually buy updates for your EV. 

For example, if you own a Tesla, you can buy updates for your Tesla’s autopilot on their website.

How to take care of your EV

guy driving on autopilot
This guy drives on autopilot on his EV.

By following these simple tips, you might help your EV prolong its life cycle and range. 

Care for your EV’s battery. 

Even though they’re known to work for years, your batteries will quicken its wear and tear with neglect. Therefore, it would help if you get your batteries’ health checked annually.

 Some carmakers such as Nissan also offer additional coverage of battery capacity loss. 

Don’t overcharge your EV. 

As mentioned, overcharging your EV brings many harms to its batteries. As a result, make sure to preserve its health by being mindful of the charging duration. 

You must not let it recharge for an extended period of time after being 100% recharged. If you can, set a timer. In charging stations, you can typically customize the duration. 

Don’t overwork your EV’s cooling system. 

Battling the summer heat? Save your EV from the hassle. It might overwork its cooling system. 

Make sure to park somewhere shaded and cool. This will prevent the thermal management system from continuously working to bring down your EV’s temperature.

Is an electric car engine reliable?

Not only are they reliable but they also cleaner than ICE cars’ engines. The only common worry with EVs is if you’ll run out of battery power in the middle of driving. 

However, when it comes to engines, it won’t cause any trouble randomly because it has fewer moving parts. The more moving parts a car has, the more they have to interact with each other to function. 

Therefore, if something goes wrong, you might need to shell out and wait for a certain amount of time before you can drive again.

Do electric cars require more maintenance? 

No, in fact, they are more inexpensive to maintain compared to ICE cars. That’s because unlike ICE cars, EVs don’t require many fluids to function well. ICE cars need plenty of fluids, like gas, oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, etc. 

A handful of their parts also need to be lubricated from time to time, to avoid rust from taking over.

Nevertheless, it would still help if you follow your EV’s scheduled maintenance by its manufacturer to avoid complications.  

Wrapping it up…

Your EV is one reliable green machine. Imagine driving something that has a significantly small carbon emission for the years to come. Wouldn’t that be great? 

Therefore, you should still take care of it because it’s not susceptible to damages or glitches. And if push comes to shove, just contact your nearest authorized service center. 

Got any experience with your EV not starting? Share them in the comments below. 

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