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In early 2022 I had an issue with my 453 forfour not charging using the proper wall charger. However, my 451 ED charged fine on the same charger. I just presumed that there was a hardware issue with the car since MB Star Diagnostics was claiming there was an earthing issue in 1 of the modules.
When I plugged the car in, the car thinks about it for a bit, connects to the charger, the 2 car contactors close, the wall charger contractor closes and the charging socket shows the green light and then the charging immediately stopped. All contactors open and the charging light either showed a red or white light.
I even had it where the contactors in the wall charger were closing and opening continuously once a second until you disconnected the charging cable.
Annoyingly I had video of all of these happening but somehow lost them.
As the car was still under warranty, I just sent it back to smart for them to look at.
I kept monitoring the car through the app and the car sat there not moving for over 2 weeks, then suddenly I got a phone call saying that they have found no issues and I should come and collect the car.
I collected the car and it was fully charged. I had secretly marked many parts with UV pen so I thought maybe something had been fixed and either the information wasn’t passed down or that they didn’t want to admit that something had been fixed. Nothing at all had been changed and the motor cover hadn’t even been opened.
Return To Sender
I got the car home, plugged it in to find exactly the same fault still occurring. Damn.
Time to test a few things and do a few diagnostics.
I plugged the slow charger cable into a house socket, passed the cable out the window and plugged the car in. The car started charging with no issues. So maybe it was a fault with the wall charger. I plugged the slow charger into a socket in the workshop and it didn’t work. The only thing they had in common was they were both failing on the same electrical circuit in the workshop.
That’s when the error code came back to me. An earthing issue. I had an electrician working on the house at the time so asked him to check the resistance of the earth rod and it was WAY too high. The house had 3 earth spikes but the earth cable was not extended between the house and workshop. The earth spike for the workshop was bodged by the shady arsehole who installed it so I fitted a new earth spike and connected it directly into the wall charger.
Immediately afterward, the wall charger worked correctly and charged the car as it should.
…Right Up To The Point It Stopped Working Again
Literally only a few weeks later, the wall charger stopped charging either electric smarts. I decided to just replace the wall charger but it had the same fault.
Inspecting the new earth rod, I discovered that the cable had come off. I reconnected the earth rod, joined it to the original earth rod as well and then added a protective cap over the top of the earth rod connector.
Once again, it all started working again and has worked flawlessly ever since.
Check Your Earth Rod
Simple as that. Check the connections and maybe fit a replacement or an additional spike.
I also recommend watering them in the summer as the ground can dry and shrink back, increasing the resistance of the rod to ground. Salt water is even better. I have taken to urinating on the earth spike every now and then (mainly when the neighbour isn’t out gardening). If you have a gutter downpipes, if you can put the earth rod where the water outlet is, it’s less likely to dry out.
Common Or Rare?
It’s fairly rare. The UK has poor control over the electrical standards so a lot of electrics are shoddy. We are allowed to do all of our own work if we want. Most other 1st world countries have to have the work done trained and licensed professionals. The UK also has shorter earth rods than most other countries. UK has 1m to 1.2m earth rods.
Jon B contacted me with the same fault as I had which encouraged me to write this page of info. I told him to get the earth spike tested, he did and it wasn’t good. New spike and his 453 started charging properly.