Tesla Supercharger Won’t Start – Top Reasons Why!


Whether on a road trip or topping up your Tesla, there’s no bigger sinking feeling than the Supercharger not working. There’s always a solution; read on to find out how to solve the problem.

The most common reasons a Tesla Supercharger won’t start include:

  • Faulty Supercharger
  • Insufficient Funds
  • Tesla Battery Protection
  • Supercharging During Cold Weather
  • Problems with your Tesla
  • Tesla Range Below 5%
Tesla-won't-charge

Faulty Supercharger

Tesla has approximately 140 Supercharge locations throughout the USA. Technicians are constantly checking them; all are remotely connected to the Tesla network. Even with these supports in place, they can still cause trouble.

Supercharger wont start

There’s nothing worse than your range already pretty low; you roll into a Supercharger location and suddenly realize you can’t get the charge to work or start.

We automatically assume that there’s a problem with our Tesla, but more often than not, it’s actually the Supercharger at fault. The best thing to do is to switch to another Supercharger at the same location. Try charging again. If this works, well, fantastic!

If not, try another on the other side (if there is a second bank of chargers) or one that someone has just recently used; you can ask them if everything went ok.

If it seems that the fault is true with your Tesla, you have a couple of choices. You can search your Tesla App for an alternative Level 2 charger, or you can call Roadside Assist. We look at what could be at fault with your Tesla further in the article.

You can also try calling the support number listed on each Supercharger. They will ask you for your location and the stall numbers you have tried. They will be able to assess whether it is the Supercharger’s fault or a fault in your Tesla.

You can also emailservicehelpna@tesla.com with the Supercharger location and stall number if you get going on another stall just to let them know there is an issue with one of the chargers. (Nice to be nice).

Insufficient Funds

Supercharging for many Tesla owners is Free. However, several Tesla owners have to pay to Supercharge. You can easily check which category you fall into on your Tesla App.

  • Tesla App
  • Manage
  • View Details – it will show one of the following:
    • Free Unlimited – Pay Per Use – Timebound Supercharge
ModelYearFree Supercharging
S2012 – 2020Possibly FREE
X2016 – 2020FREE
32018 – 2019First Owner Only
Y~No FREE Supercharging

Your card may have been declined if you are in a Pay Per Use category. Insufficient funds can also be misinterpreted if you have an updated Credit or Debit Card but have forgotten to update your Tesla account.

Or if you have recently replaced a lost or stolen card that is still linked to your account.

This can easily happen and is easily solved. You just need to update your details in your Tesla Account.

I know I went through a spate of losing my Debit card, and just when you think you have updated everything with the new card, you get rejected by something.

Tesla Battery Protection

Another reason the Supercharger won’t start is that you have been Supercharging quite a lot recently. This can be for several reasons, you’ve had a lot of trips that required a Supercharge, or you haven’t had access to a Level 2 or Level 1 charger. This doesn’t help your current problem, and why would multiple Supercharging be a problem anyway?

It’s a Tesla network, right? Well, yes. It is a Tesla network, but Tesla also wants you to get the best from your High Voltage battery, including longevity.

The more you Supercharge, the hotter the cells get, the quicker they degrade. If you have been Supercharging quite a lot, then your onboard computer knows this and can limit access to Supercharging.

It doesn’t mean you can’t charge; it just means you might have to switch to Level 2 for a while. The onboard computer knows how much range you have, and even though you might need to top it up, it wants you to reduce your range a little more before you can Supercharge again.

Cold Weather Supercharging

Tesla doesn’t like extreme weather conditions, whether super hot or cold. But when it’s super cold, the onboard computer can limit or not allow supercharging. Supercharging uses DC, a much higher voltage and temperature than AC. The ambient temperature outside makes the high-voltage battery drop in temperature, and Supercharging is not available or is much slower than you would want.

There are ways around this. If you know you are going to Supercharge and the temperature is zero or below, you can schedule a stop at a Supercharger on your Navigation. The car will then precondition for you, which means the batteries will be at optimum temperature when you arrive at the Supercharger location.

Problems with Your Tesla

It’s not always the car’s fault, but sometimes it is. When you arrive at the Supercharger and plugin, you must do so correctly, or charging won’t go ahead. Tests are run by the Supercharger cable and the Tesla to check that everything is safe.

The most important check is, has a complete seal been made between the charger and the charge port? When you plug the charger in, the light turns to a blinking green if charging. It may temporarily turn green and then red to show that charging has tried to start but has failed.

There is an actuator (a small plastic clip) as part of the plugging-in system. This is what completes the seal. If this is faulty or only intermittently working, charging can’t occur. When you plug the cable in, the actuator releases a small lever to hold the charging cable in place so that no one can remove your cable.

When you press the release button, the actuator pulls the lever back inside so the cable can then be removed.

If this doesn’t happen, the seal is incomplete, and the Supercharger will abort the charging session. If you think this is an issue, contact the Tesla Service Center.

Playing around with anything connected to the charging area or the high-voltage battery is not advisable.

Guide to Charging Lights

LightsProblemSolution
All GreenChargingNo Problems
Top Light GreenPower but not chargingCheck car connection
No Green – Red Light FlashingUnsafe ElectricsPress Reset Button
No Green – 2 Red Lights FlashingSelf Check FailedReset Required
No Green – 3 Red Lights FlashingContact FailedUnplug and Replug
No Green – 4 Red Lights FlashingLoss of GroundContact Electrician
No Green – 5 Red Lights FlashingCircuit BreakCheck Outlet
No Green – 6 Red Lights FlashingHeat FaultMove Charging to a Cooler Place
More than 6 Red Lights FlashingFaulty ConnectorContact Tesla
No LightsNo PowerCheck Power

Range Below 5%

Tesla recommends that we always keep our Tesla range between 20 – 80%. But sometimes life takes over, and you can’t get to a charger in time, and the range drops below the magic 20%. You might be on a road trip or have had a power outage at home and haven’t had the opportunity to top up, and the battery has depleted to 5% or just above.

If this is the case and you pull into a Supercharger location, then you may find that your charging doesn’t go to plan.

However, persevere as there is a reason why it seems your car is not charging. Supercharging is DC high voltage, quick charging, but if your batteries are nearly flat, the onboard computer doesn’t want them to become damaged and slows the charging. This, in turn, looks like no charging is taking place at all.

In fact, the computer is slowly preparing your battery for the Supercharge. This could take 10-15 minutes before actual Supercharging takes place, depending on how low your battery is and the temperature outside.

If your battery is not low, then there’s a possibility that something else is at fault, but anywhere less than 10% will take longer to kick in.

I’d leave the charger plugged in and allow it to begin. This is not the case for a Level 1 or a Level 2 charge, as they both use AC voltage, which is not as dramatic for your high-voltage battery.

As an EV owner, you’ve often pondered what happens if you don’t get to charge your Tesla, then wonder no more; here’s what that scenario looks like – What happens if you can’t charge your Tesla?

Service Required

You could be due for a service check if you consistently suffer from charging problems. It’s always worth contacting Tesla Service Center; this can be done through your app. They can do a quick remote check on your car and let you know if you need to book an appointment.

I’ve written a ton on common Tesla issues, which hopefully you won’t ever experience, but if you do, we have you covered with these posts:

Check out the Tesla charging page for common Tesla charging problems.

Check out the Tesla troubleshooting page for problem Teslas.

Check out the Tesla category page for a list of popular Tesla posts.

If you are curious about other EV models, check out the EV FAQ category.

John Cunningham

John Cunningham is a technical writer here at EVjuicedup.com. He's a Red Seal qualified Auto Service Technician with over twenty-five years experience working on Classic and Modern Cars. He's worked for GM, Jaguar, Land Rover, Volvo, Audi, and VW main dealers.

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