Electric Vehicle owners’ biggest concern is range anxiety. This is increased even further if you can’t open the charge hatch. I’ve been a mechanic for 25 years. Don’t panic. We’ll have it open shortly.
The most common reasons your Kona charge hatch won’t open are:
- Pressing the wrong area on the hatch
- The Weather is Below Zero
- Car is Locked
- The Hinge is Full of Grime
In this article, we’ll look at why the Kona charge hatch won’t open, how to diagnose this and how to get it working again.
Pressing the wrong area on the Hatch
The Kona charging hatch area is at the front of the car. Where the traditional grill would be. As you look at the car, the charge hatch is on the right-hand side. The hatch mechanism works by a press-release hinge. If you are pressing in the wrong area, the mechanism won’t work.
On the front grill, there is a separate square. On this square, there is an EV icon. This is where you must press for the hatch to open. If you press anywhere else, the hatch won’t open. As the hatch ages, the hinge might loosen and give some scope for a larger press area. But from the factory, the place to press to release the hatch is the EV icon.
The Weather is Below Zero
Cold climates and EVs don’t really mix. They are, of course, available in colder climates but charging and managing an EV in these circumstances can be a little more challenging than an ICE vehicle.
Below zero makes charging challenging for several reasons, not least the fact that your charge hatch won’t open. The hatch on your Kona is more prone to freezing for several reasons:
- No rubber seal
- Location of hatch on the car
- It’s made from plastic
No Rubber Seal
The hatch on your Kona has a pressure hinge, but when the temperature is below zero, this hatch can become frozen shut. There is no rubber seal inside the hatch door to make a snug fit on closing.
This may be upgraded in the future, but for now, it means that freezing rain, snow, and hail can get in behind the hatch. Although the electric ports have an additional cover (much like in an ICE car), the snow and ice can become compacted behind the hatch door and subsequently make it nearly impossible to open the hatch.
Location of Hatch on the Car
The charge hatch on the Kona is on the front of the car. Due to its position, the hatch door is more prone to freezing. Many other EVs and nearly all ICE vehicles have their charge/ fuel hatch to the rear side of the vehicle. Positioned at the front, it’s getting the full force of below-zero weather from both the atmosphere and also the blowoff from any cars traveling in front of your Kona.
Again this will get compacted behind the hatch as you move through a weather system.
It’s Made from Plastic
We all have plastic in our lives. It’s a fantastic and versatile product and can be used in so many situations. But the use of it for the manufacture of the Kona charge hatch is not a great idea. Plastic is not as good a choice as metal. It becomes brittle over time, even when additives to protect it from hot and cold weather are used.
In average day-to-day winter temperatures, the plastic hatch will cool much quicker than a metal hatch, and due to the previous items we’ve mentioned, it will freeze shut.
Again this may be something that Hyundai will re-engineer in the future, but for the time being, we have to deal with a frozen hatch.
So what is the solution? We don’t want to crack the cover or damage the machine, but if it’s frozen solid and you need to charge your Kona, then we need to take action.
The first solution is to give the ‘Icon’ on the charge hatch a hard rap with the side or butt of your hand. If the hatch is frozen with ice, this should do the trick. You should hear the ice crack. You may need to give it a second go to loosen it completely.
If it’s full of snow, it’s a good idea to spray with De-Icer around the edge of the hatch. I don’t advise pouring warm water on your hatch cover as it may damage your EV charge port.
The other alternative (but only possible if you have access to a socket) is to apply heat from a hairdryer. This will raise the temperature and release the hatch.
Car is Locked
For security reasons, the charging hatch is considered to be a door and, as such, won’t open if the car is locked. Even though there is no key for the hatch, the car needs to be unlocked for the hatch to release. The car also needs to be in P (park).
Hyundai doesn’t want anyone tampering with your charge port if you are away from your car. You have to unlock the car to open the hatch to insert the charging cable. The cable will then lock in the port until you release it. This is another security control so you don’t return to your car to find that the cable has been unplugged.
Hinge is Full of Grime
The hinge on the charging hatch is a plastic roll-away hinge used in most modern car fuel hatches. The problem with the Kona hinge relates to an issue we have already mentioned. The lack of a rubber seal around the hatch door leads to grime and dirt collecting inside the hatch along the hinge.
Over time this grime increases and prevents the hinge from opening freely. The hatch gets stuck shut or will only partially open. If the push mechanism is still working, gently pull the hatch towards you. You can hear if the hinge is rubbing against the grime build-up.
You must keep this area as clean as possible. You can remove excess grime with a soft cloth. Don’t use any cleaning products in the area, as this can damage the charging port.
Remove as much grime as possible, moving the hinge backward and forward to loosen any excess. When you have cleaned as much as possible, you can spray the hinge with a light covering of WD40.
This will prevent further sticking of the hinge temporarily, but as before, because there is no rubber seal, dirt and grime will ultimately work their way back in.
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