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Apparently Blown Level 1 Charger; "Service Charging System" Error

785 Views 15 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  bermudapalms123
I have been using a Fiat stock level I charger since buying my 2016 500 E from a dealership three years ago. I have no idea how old the charger is; they weren't going to give me one originally and I may have taken the only one they had in the dealership so I don't know whether it came with the car but I doubt it. It has worked flawlessly up to two nights ago. Then, when I plugged it in, I got the "service charging system" error and, ludicrously, a warning not to drive the car while it is plugged in. I unplugged the charger immediately and only then noticed that the lights on the front of the box had gone out. I had enough charge to get to a ChargePointt public charger, where I charged without incident.
There's a tag on the charger that says that it may reset after a fault, so I left it unplugged for about 32 hours, checked the jack with a light bulb to make sure there was current coming through, and plugged it back in. Nothing lit up and at this point I don't think I should plug it back into my car to make absolutely sure that is broken. I had been hanging it vertically on the wall and perhaps the cord had a little too much strain on it. I just noticed that the seal from the power cord is loose, so it's entirely possible that this rainy winter sent some water inside the unit.
I did notice the admonition to listen for the clunk when plugging in the charger and I don't think I heard one as I usually do. More, the charge level indicator lights at the extreme ends both illuminated briefly, making me think that there might be some damage to the car itself. But after a couple of seconds the normal charging cycle started and proceeded pretty much as I would expect a level II charger to operate.
I'm combining several questions into this post:
1) Am I missing something and am I wrong to conclude that the problem probably is the level I charger?
2) I've read several accounts of chargers resetting after they were plugged into different outlets. A dealership has offered to let me test my charger on their outlet, but that seems really weird. Isn't electricity electricity? Why would the outlet make any difference? Even if it did, I have only one outlet capable of supplying the charger at my house, so I am wondering why it would be a permanent solution.
2) Am I omitting something to reset the stock level I charger? I'd rather not buy a new one if I don't have to.
4) It's been about six years since anybody requested recommendations on chargers, so I thought I'd renew the question. it seems that everybody agrees the level II charger won't degrade the battery. I'd appreciate any recommendations on comparatively cheap and reliable ones. It seems like Juicebox is still pretty much in the running.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
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Sorry for the typos. It doesn't look like I can fix them. (I think I did get them all fixed now)
To fix typos click the 3 dots at the top right of your post & click "edit", but it seems perfectly clear to me:

If there are no lights on the charge cord, there's no output, so there's point plugging into the car.

Since a lightbulb works in the exact same outlet's exact same sockets (right?), but there aren't even red lights or flashing lights on the charge cord, I'm pretty sure it means the cord is bad. However, personally I would try it in a few other outlets in my home, just to make sure it doesn't light up there either.

1) Based on all your details, I'm almost positive you are correct that the L1 unit is the problem.

2) Plugging into different outlets isn't to reset it. It's to see if the charger is ok & it's just the other outlet that's bad. You pretty much covered that with your lightbulb test & then trying again with no lights. If it had been just the ground that went bad, the bulb would work but you'd get a ground error light on the cord.

3) The only thing required to reset the stock cord is unplugging from the outlet & plugging back in, like you already did.
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4) L2 won't degrade the battery, but maybe don't waste the money since you haven't needed it in 3 years. If you do think you need faster home charging, you'll need an electrician to install a 240V outlet, but you can plug an L1 into it & get about 10 miles every hour, for a full recharge from dead overnight.

Just 7 weeks ago there was a great charge cord thread here:

  • "Schumacher SC1455" (just type that in the search fields) has the best Amazon record with 4.7 stars in 489 reviews, for $200 there AND at HomeDepot. Last time I checked it was $204 at NAPA, $210 at O'Reilly, $230 at AceHardware, $250 at AutoZone & $284 at Walmart.
  • Vevor brand 16A now tested fine by @TinyEV_PA : It's a close 2nd-best-reviewed on Amazon with 4.5 stars in 248 entries. $129 there (Click Here) but only $122 at (Click Here). I didn't find it or anything else similar at any of the suppliers listed above, or at eBay, HarborFreight, Lowes, or Menards.
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I personally don't need such fast L1 charging, & I got a bit concerned about the 1946 wires in my rental garage, so I recently bought a $125 adjustable unit:

This is a big help. Thanks. I think I may already have the right plug. One other question. I've seen, but have not really understood, some discussion about versatility in level 2 chargers. It seems that some give the minimum and some can increase what they supply. I don't want to be penny wise and pound foolish, but I'd think the straight level 2 would match what most public charging stations offer and would be good enough. Right?
I don't understand how fast you need to charge.

You've been charging at 1.44kW for the last 3 years with no complaints, adding about 5 miles every hour, fully recharging a US-average daily drive even if you only plug in while you're asleep.

If you replace your broken L1 for $122 - $200 it will do the same.

If you already have a 240V outlet, the same $122 - $200 unit will give you 3.8kW or 13 mi/hr, fully recharging an average daily drive in 3 hours, or recharging from dead while you sleep.

If you suddenly want to be able to fully recharge a daily drive in under 2 hours, or fully recharge from dead, 4 hours before you wake up, then you can max out the car's capacity with just a 30A unit plugged into that 240V outlet.
I just checked & Vevor has one of the latter for only $200:

I just checked & Vevor has one of the latter for only $200:

Thanks. This is a big help
I searched Amazon a bit more & didn't see anything more appealing.

What I like about that 32A Vevor is:
  • It's only the same price as the 16A Schumacker.
  • The Vevor brand tested well for @TinyEV_PA in the 16A version.
  • The 32A in a 50A 240V outlet* will max out the car, which is fine, but it won't even come close to maxing out the outlet, which can be a fire hazard.
  • It can take 110-120V (with a $20 adapter).
  • It can be set to max out the car, or set for 10A so as to avoid maxing out a 120 outlet, which can also be a fire hazard.
*You might have to change the easy part of your 240 outlet, to match the cord's plug.
...or maybe just a $20 adapter for that, too.
  • It actually lists & shows a 1st-gen 500e! A few owners have had issues with other units, & when I looked them up the 500e was conspicuously absent from their list.
...or maybe just a $20 adapter for that, too.
  • It actually lists & shows a 1st-gen 500e! A few owners have had issues with other units, & when I looked them up the 500e was conspicuously absent from their list.
I went ahead and ordered the Schumacher before I saw this and it arrives today. I'm inclined to stick with it, but I'm a little concerned about the warning in the manual to keep it out of snow and rain. That seems odd. Not everybody has a garage. My own charging outlet is mounted on the outside of the garage -- and I can't park the car inside because the garage is full -- and outdoor chargers are commonplace. So I called and asked and the call-taker in tech support said it isn't sealed. She said I shouldn't "soak" the unit, including the cable. That also seemed vague and a little odd (Who would leave even a sealed high-voltage unit soaking in water?), so I've asked for more info and am awaiting word from a senior tech support person.
In the meantime, I thought I noticed elsewhere that you've used a 14-gauge extension cord. If I did that, I could mount the control unit high up under the eaves of my garage roof and avoid almost all rain. And yet warnings against extension cords are pretty universal with lots of electrical equipment, I think because of fire risk. Any thoughts?
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I just got a 15A surge protector with a 12' cord. I'm pretty sure one or two forum members had their OEM cord fried by a voltage spike, so I recommend using a protector. I assume it doesn't say you can't use one of those. You could hang both it & the Schumacker way up under the eaves, & run the protector's cord down to the outlet:

My girlfriends home is 43 miles away ,unfortunately almost all interstate 80 ( average speed is just about that for most , not me Im 60-65mph ) Anyway even in real cold weather I make her house with about 20 on the old GOM . After making up very heavy #12 X 20 ' extension cord so as to charge from her dryer outlet ( it works fine ) relised since Im staying over nite why not just charge off 110 out let in garage . So here is where this gets weird and ties into original post ,double out let in same box /line and only one will let Carmen charge ?????
Maybe one of the 2 outlets had something plugged in non-stop like a fridge, & the other one got worn out by being plugged & unplug 15 times a day, switching between a soldering iron & then a drill & then....

Nearly every outlet in every residence is a super-cheap POS that's fine for charging a phone, but for a car you really should replace it with a $10 industrial/commercial grade outlet.
Sorry for the typos. It doesn't look like I can fix them. (I think I did get them all fixed now)
Plug it into a different outlet at your house. I went thru the same thing you are going thru and I found out that the ground in my outlet box was bad. As Soon as I plugged it in to a extension cord and a different box it was just fine. I changed the plug in my house with a new $2.99 receptacle and all was fine.
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