Do Teslas Lose Charge When Parked?


Does Tesla Lose Charge When Parked?

When parked and not plugged in to charge, Tesla vehicles gradually lose battery power, which is caused by something commonly referred to as ‘vampire drain’, or ‘vampire battery drain’. In most cases, the battery loss when a Tesla is parked tends to be minimal, but it can increase depending on the settings of your vehicle.

But what causes this vampire drain? And are there ways to minimize it? The following will break down everything you need to know about Tesla vehicles losing charge while they’re parked.

Why Does A Tesla Lose Power When Parked?

‘Vampire battery drain’ occurs because even when parked, a Tesla is never completely switched off. There are a number of systems that are constantly running, such as systems that monitor the health of the vehicle’s battery, and systems that make it so the vehicle will be ready to open the doors on your approach. 

In most cases, the amount of charge lost while a Tesla is parked is fairly small, and it may not even be noticeable to some Tesla owners, especially if they’re charging their vehicles overnight. 

You’ll usually only really notice the loss of power when you’ve left your vehicle for more than two days, without charging it in that time. You probably wouldn’t be doing this too often, but there’s a number of contexts in which you might; if you’re leaving your Tesla parked at an airport while you take a trip, for example. 

Depending on the settings you’ve left your vehicle with and how charged it was when you parked, it could end up completely drained by the time you return to it. 

This problem has become more apparent in recent years due to the introduction of certain Tesla features, like the sentry mode, as well as the increase in the number of third party applications which are likely to keep your car ‘awake’ when it should be ‘asleep’. 

Sentry mode is a feature that some Tesla owners like to activate when their vehicle is parked, and it’s by far the function that drains the most battery during this time. The feature is believed to use up to 300 watts of power, and for this reason, it’s recommended that you refrain from leaving sentry mode on when you’re leaving your Tesla for more than a short period of time.

There are actually third-party applications that serve the same purpose as sentry mode (constantly recording video for security reasons), but use up far less battery in the process. 

Unless you’re using it as an alternative to battery-draining features like sentry mode, you should also be avoiding most third-party applications when you’re leaving your Tesla parked for long periods of time.

Not every app is going to drain a significant amount of battery, but many will, and it’s not really worth risking your vehicle is completely out of battery by the time you return to it. 

One example of a third-party application that tends to use a lot of power is Teslafi, which is neither supported nor maintained by Tesla. Its purpose is to check the vehicle status and provide summaries regardless of whether it’s active or parked, which in turn drains the battery. 

You should also refrain from using Cabin Overheat Protection when it comes to the interior cabin climate control settings. It leads to the vehicle using up a lot of power for the sole purpose of keeping the interior cabin at 105 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Unless you are parked in an extremely hot climate, directly in the sun, you do not need to keep this feature turned on while you are gone. 

Another feature worth mentioning is Smart Summon. When active, Smart Summon Mode won’t allow your parked Tesla to fully go to sleep. It’s not a crucial feature, so if you’re going to be leaving your vehicle for more than a day or so, make sure to turn off Smart Summon from ‘standby’. 

Basically, when you’re leaving your Tesla parked and not on charge for more than a couple of days, make sure that you’re switching off any function that’s not completely necessary.

How To Save Power While Your Tesla Is Parked

The simplest way to avoid your Tesla losing large amounts of power while parked is, naturally, leaving it plugged in overnight prior to leaving it parked wherever you’re going to park it. If you’re fully charged in advance, there will be more chance of there being enough power to get you home once you return to the vehicle. 

Obviously, if you’re at an airport that offers a valet service that will charge your Tesla for you, this might be the best option, especially if you’re going to be away for a long time. This is ideal for when there are minimal charging stations at the airport. 

Do All Electric Cars Lose Power When They’re Parked?

Vampire drain isn’t restricted to Tesla vehicles. The majority of electric vehicles, if not all of them, also have functions running in the background even when they are parked. It’s unlikely you’d be able to leave your electric car parked with none of those functions running. 

Generally, when it comes to both Tesla vehicles and electric cars, it’s recommended that you leave your vehicle with at least 80% battery when intending to leave it for a long period of time. 

Tesla owners sometimes fall into the trap of letting their battery get too low because they know they’ll be able to recharge their vehicle very quickly at a supercharger station. But even though that’s true, your Tesla still needs to be charged enough that it can actually get you to do the supercharger in the first place.

Conclusion: Does Tesla Lose Parked Charge?

Tesla vehicles do indeed gradually lose power when they’re parked and not plugged in, as do most electric vehicles. This is because there are several functions that are always running in the background, even when you’re nowhere near the vehicle.

The best ways to minimize this ‘vampire drain’ are to turn off Sentry Mode, Cabin Overheat Protection, and Smart Summon Mode, and not use any unnecessary third-party applications on your smartphone.

When you’re going to be leaving your vehicle for more than a couple of days, make sure you’re leaving it with at least 80% battery.

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Greg Gottfried

The articles here on ThatTeslaChannel.com are created by Greg Gottfried, a Tesla vehicle and Tesla solar expert with nearly half a decade of hands-on experience. Being a Tesla owner allows Greg to fact-check information and personally try new scenarios out before publishing an article explaining the process.

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