How to Properly Disconnect an Electric Car Charger

Electric car chargers can be easily disconnected with just a few simple steps, but they come with theft-deterrent locking mechanisms and other options. As long as you are the owner and have your key handy, unlocking your electric car charger is a breeze.

The ideal way to disconnect your charger is first to ensure that it is charged. After that, follow some simple instructions, and you will be set. Read on to see the steps in detail, some anti-theft measurements that electric vehicles offer, and what to do if your charger will not disconnect.

Make Sure your Electric Vehicle is Charged 80%-90%

The first step in disconnecting your electric vehicle charger is to ensure that it has charged 80%-90%. Your electric vehicle will charge automatically total capacity, but it is not recommended to keep your electric vehicle constantly charged at 100%. This can damage the battery over time. Most electric vehicles will stop when they reach a full capacity charge.

Most electric cars use lithium-ion batteries, and it is widely recommended to avoid completely draining your battery to 0% or overcharging with an extended time at 100%. These two extremes will cause batter degradation the quickest over time. Though most electric car manufacturers offer a 100,000-mile battery warranty, keeping your battery at a maximum of 80%-90% will lengthen its life.

Unlock the Cable from with your Electric Vehicle

Next, unlock your electric vehicle charging cable from the vehicle’s charging port. Depending on the brand of your electric vehicle, there may be one or several ways to unlock your charging cable.

Removing Chargers from Tesla Electric Vehicles

Most Tesla charging stations have a button on the charging cable that lights when charging begins. With your car unlocked and the key within range, press the unlock button on the cable, and you will be able to remove it. If the cable is not removed quickly or the car is locked again, the charging cable will lock in place.

Removing Chargers from Kia Electric Vehicles

 Kia Niro EV operates similarly to Tesla. Simply unlock the doors, press the release button and remove the charger. The charger will be unlocked for 15 seconds, and if not removed within that time, it will lock again. The charger will automatically unlock when a full charge is reached.

Removing Chargers from the Nissan Leaf Electric Vehicle

The Nissan Leaf operates similarly but will not lock the charger into place automatically. The control switch inside the vehicle can be switched to auto, and the charger cord will immediately unlock when charging is complete. The switch can be manually set to the lock position to lock the cord, and until it is switched into the unlocked position, the cord will stay locked.

To be sure of the specific charging features of your Electric Vehicle, review your vehicle’s manual. Most Electric Vehicles connect, charge, and disconnect similarly, but a few models like the Nissan Leaf have switches inside the car rather than using a release button on the charger.

Return the Cable to the Charging Dock

Returning the charging cable to the dock is especially important when using public charging stations. You will have multiple indications that your vehicle has reached a full charge. Proper etiquette is to immediately unplug and move your car from the charging station.

ChargePoint stations have developed an app for charging electric vehicles that give drivers:

  • Wait times at particular stations
  • Ability to join a waiting list
  • A tip section to help other drivers find and navigate ChargePoint stations

ChargePoint stations have designated placards that let other drivers know that if they need an immediate charge, you can unplug their charging cable to use. On the flip side, the placard states not to unplug your charging cord for any reason.

Electric Vehicle charging stations depend on drivers that follow the proper etiquette when using them. That involves parking in the correct areas and not treating stations as parking spots after completing your charge.

What do I do if my Charger Cords Won’t Disconnect?

On occasion, charger cords can become stuck or difficult to remove. The main thing to remember is not to panic and never attempt to pry the cord out with a screwdriver or any other tool. This will only result in damage to the charging station, your charging cord, and quite possibly yourself.

The essential steps to follow in these scenarios are:

  • Stay calm. If your charging cord is connected in the first place, chances are it will also disconnect. You won’t be stuck there forever.
  • Most charging stations have 800 numbers. Call the number on the charging station, and you may find some helpful advice that will get your charging cord unstuck.
  • If your car has built- assistance like OnStar, use it! A simple reset of your vehicle may prompt the charger to release.
  • Be sure your vehicle is unlocked. Some charging cords do not release if your vehicle is locked. If you fail to remove the cord within 15 seconds, the charging cord will re-lock.
  • If all of these options fail, call emergency services and document everything that happens.

If you follow the proper step to disconnect your charging cord from your electric vehicle and it still isn’t disconnecting, there are a few extra steps to follow to help you out of these situations. Remember to be calm and double-check that your vehicle is unlocked.  Your car’s built-in services or emergency roadside services can assist you if all else fails.

Safety Features of Electric Vehicle Charger Cords

Charging cables can be expensive to replace, some retailing at over $1000. To prevent your electric vehicle charging cable from being stolen, be sure to lock your cables using a padlock or lockbox. Though chargers lock into charging ports on the car and the dock, some can be removed by applying force on either end. Here are some ways to avoid theft.

Locking Cable on Both Ends of the Charger or Padlock Accessories

For electric vehicle drivers, one area of concern during charging is potential theft. Some electric vehicles come with charging cords that locks both at the port on the vehicle and the port of the charger. In some instances, with enough force, the cable can be pulled from the port and stolen.

Padlock accessories are being used to navigate around that problem. Padlocks are compatible with type one connectors and can be placed through a hole at the bottom of the release button, preventing it from being fully compressed and removed. Padlocks can also be used to secure the charging cord onto the towing loop underneath the back bumper of a car.

The TRC Technology Research Universal Lock is a locking mechanism used by many electric vehicle drivers to prevent theft. The locking box prevents removing the charger cord from the dock, meaning the expensive charging cord itself cannot be stolen.

Some Other Anti-Theft Measurements

Some electric vehicle drivers that don’t have something to padlock their charging cord have opted for some creative solutions.

  • Loop your charging cord through the spokes of your wheel and padlock around them.
  • Park your back tire on top of the charging cord as a last-ditch ever. This can damage the cord over time.
  • Only charge at home where charger ports can be locked safely in a garage.

To prevent your charger cord from being stolen, opt for a lockbox or the padlock method.



There are three simple steps to follow to disconnect your charging cord from your electric vehicle properly. Be sure your car is charged between 80% and 90% and that your car is unlocked. Use either the release button on the charging port or a switch inside your vehicle to release the cord. Always be sure to review the safety measurements in place for your specific model electric vehicle and further prevent your charging cord from theft if need be.

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