Why does the Tesla Battery drain while Parked? The Vampire Drain Saga

Why does the Tesla not stay charged when it is not running and it is simply parked? This can be frustrating if you are far away from a charge station and you are depending on the accuracy of the indicator for the level of the charge in your electric car battery.  You would think that a lithium battery would hold its charge.  It might mean that you have something running in the background that is draining the battery. I will explain what could be happening.

Why does the Tesla battery drain while parked? A Tesla battery will lose its charge if you park it due to setting the smart preconditioning function.  Smart preconditioning will warm up the cabin and it will also turn on the battery heater.  These devices will use up battery power even though you are not driving the Tesla. 

What are some other reasons would your Tesla battery would lose power while in park?

There are other reasons why your Tesla battery will lose its charge besides just being due to the preconditioning setting.  Nevertheless, these items will drain far less compared to the preheating function.  Here are a few of them:

  1. Usage of Applications: There are third-party apps that will suck away at your Tesla charge even when you are not using the Tesla.  Tesla has not prevented these from being developed for use in a Tesla, that sort of prevention would be very costly since there are apps appearing on the market on a regular basis.  One such app is called the Teslafi which is not supported or maintained by Tesla. An app of this nature will poll the Tesla causing the car computer to be activated draining the battery.
  2. Tesla has a function called the Sentry mode that some people like to keep activated when parked.  It is a big drain on the battery, much larger than the third-party apps that are being used.  It is one of the top functions that you should turn off when not using the Tesla.  You can purchase an app such as Blackvue that will record cam videos for you instead of having this done by the power-sucking Sentry Mode.  Apparently, the sentry mode uses as much as 300w, and a regular dashcam that can record for security purposes as low as 5w of power. The sentry mode is accessing constantly the main computer and it is sending alerts that cause further drains.  I have read about an owner that was receiving false collision alerts while his Tesla was parked safely in his garage.
  3. Another function to turn off is Smart Summon.  When the summon mode is active, it does not allow the Tesla to fall completely asleep. To turn it off, switch off the standby mode for it.  Just remember that it is not a crucial function for a Tesla.
  4. To save as much power as possible while parked, you should turn off any function that keeps the main computer busy.  For instance, switch to the garage mode so that the handles are not presented to you as you simply walk around the car in the garage.

Are there ways that you can save more of the power in the Tesla battery while it is parked besides turning off most functions?

How do you save a Tesla Battery’s Charge While Parked?

There are other ways to save the power of your battery.  I realize that it can be stressful especially if you have to leave your Tesla parked at a garage at an airport for weeks on end while there are no charging stations handy for you when you park.

  1. If you are tired of having fewer miles available due to vampire drain at home, a simple solution is to keep your Tesla plugged in overnight.  Now you will have a more complete charge even if items are slowly draining power.  Your Tesla will stay ahead of the drain by charging at a faster rate. I recommend the JuiceBox Charging station for the home that connects via wifi, click to see it on Amazon.
  2. Remove the apps from your phone, especially if you are traveling.  Just by observing the apps, you cause them to communicate with the onboard Tesla computer.
  3. If you are parking at an airport that has very limited charging stations, make sure that you arrange a valet service that will charge your car periodically.  There is nothing worse than getting into a Tesla that has a drained battery without a charging station in sight.

I recommend the BMZX charging cable organizer for Tesla, click here to see the pricing on Amazon.

It may seem to you that Tesla is full of ways to drain your battery.  Is this happening with other electric cars on the market?  If not, perhaps we can learn from the tactics that they use to prevent the drain.

Do electric cars in general lose their charges when parked?

Most electric cars are having the same problem as the Tesla models.  They have functions that are still working in the background even though they are parked.  It is next to impossible to turn off all of the functions that might be activating the main computer in an EV.

What is advised for most owners is to ensure that they have at least a charge of eighty percent before they desert their car in a parking area for a long period of time.  This percentage will be lowered, but at least you will still have enough of a charge left so that you can get to the next charging station. Tesla owners can learn from this.  Many Tesla owners let their battery drain down below this level since they feel that they can supercharge at a quick rate at a supercharger station.  Nevertheless, you still need enough power to take you to the next supercharging to do a speedy charge.

Some owners of non-tesla electric cars will activate the power saving function so that the computer is not be disturbed constantly.  It is not a good practice to do so with a Tesla because important updates are being implemented through the use of the internet so the computer system cannot be totally shut down.

Owners of models similar to the Nissan Leaf, simply unplug their EV so that the car will quickly enter into a deep sleep mode.  This happens slightly with a Tesla, but the process takes a lot longer and a total sleep mode never is obtained.  Nevertheless, the Tesla will have less activity than if it were to be plugged in while parked.

Instead of unplugging your Tesla, you could try the energy-saving mode which is similar to the power-saving mode in other electric cars.

What is the Tesla Model 3 energy saving mode?

The energy-saving mode is not available in the Model 3 Tesla.  It is available to certain Model x and Model S Teslas.  This feature apparently reduced the consumption of energy while the car was parked for a long period of time such as at the airport.

When it is activated, it will take around 10-20 seconds for your Tesla to fully wake up.  This is not that problematic.  It will help to reduce the vampire drain on the battery.

The newer X and S models do not have this feature.  The feature is not in all Teslas because they have been designed to maximize the saving of energy.  It is as if they already have the energy-saving mode activated.

Even though the newer models are pre-set for maximum energy savings. they will still deal with some battery drained while parked.

How much could a Tesla Model 3 lose due to phantom drain per day?

The Tesla Model 3 does not have an energy-saving mode, but it set up to conserve as much energy as is possible.  Nevertheless, drainage of the battery will still arise since it happens to all electric cars because of the use of multiple applications.

I found a report online of an owner that had left his Model 3 in a heated garage for 5 days.  He made sure that he had the sentry mode turned off.  He reported that he was losing about 1 percent of the charge per day. This is not that bad compared to what others are reporting that had left their cars out in the cold during similar periods of time.  Those owners reported losing as much as 8 percent overnight.

If you are curious as to the number of miles lost, I heard in a video by an owner stating that he lost around 2-4 miles of charge per day. It is important to note that the Tesla 3 was stored at an optimal temperature that was in the 70s.  More energy is going to be used if you were to park in a cold place.

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