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How to reduce battery drain (aka vampire drain) when you leave your Tesla parked up (Phantom Drain)

Last modified: 2021-06-14

5 min(s) read

In an ideal situation, you should leave your car plugged in if you plan to leave it for extended periods of time (e.g. more than a few days), however, that isn’t always possible so this page will help you reduce your risk of running out. WARNING: Discharging the Battery to 0% may permanently damage the Battery. To protect against a complete discharge, Model S & X enters a low-power consumption mode when the charge level drops to 5%. In this mode, the Battery stops supporting the onboard electronics to slow the discharge rate to approximately 4% per month. Once this low power consumption mode is active, it is important to plug in Model S & X within two months to avoid Battery damage. Note: When the low-power consumption mode is active, the auxiliary 12V battery is no longer being charged and can completely discharge within 12 hours. In the unlikely event that this occurs, you may need to jump start or replace the 12V battery before you can charge. In this situation, contact Tesla. The Model S & X should lose around 1-4 miles or 1-3% per day (often known as vampire drain), however, it varies dramatically on the settings you have enabled and the outside temperature etc. Here are a few examples of what other owners have to say:

  • “Mine has been in a body shop for 5 weeks, and lost 55 miles in that time.”
  • “Every Tesla I have owned (2) or been lent loses at least 1% per day and will lose more during Winter.”
  • I parked at Manchester Marriott for 2 weeks in August when my Model S was 2 weeks old and lost only 1 mile per day.”
  • “I lose 1% a day. You should bank on losing 20-25% over 3 week’s.”
  • “As above I lose about 1-2 miles overnight these days it should be fine. Some nights I lose nothing.”
  • “Most people say 3 miles per day but in my experience, it’s more like 5-6…”
  • “I left mine for two weeks at Heathrow in sub 5C temps and it lost around 9% (70d, always connected off, energy saving on). I didn’t connect to it at all while I was away…”
  • “My 90D appears to have lost 3% per day over five days in an airport car park but that’s with energy saving off and always on on. I suspect it may have dropped a lot initially due to the battery cooling right down. My general experience is about 1%/day with energy saving on and always connected off.”
  • “Gatwick 18 miles over 12 days in November, energy saving on, always connected unticked, no attempt to connect.”

What is the worst I can expect over a 7 day period?

If you have the most power hungry of tasks running (excluding cabin cooling/heating) you can expect around 35 kWh of energy loss for every 7 days of being parked up (average of 5 kWh per day). However, this is unlikely to be happening unless you’re really pushing your car to the limits and not allowing it to sleep etc. NOTE: this value will still depend on outdoor temperatures as the car will heat/cool the battery if required which will increase your vampire drain.

What is the best I can expect over a 7 day period?

The best (using the techniques listed below) you can expect over a 7 day period is around 2.45 kWh of TOTAL energy loss. NOTE: this value will still depend on outdoor temperatures as the car will heat/cool the battery if required which will increase your vampire drain.

How do I reduce the drain?

If you cannot plug the vehicle in do the following:

  1. Ensure the vehicle has at least 50% of charge (this should be fine for up to 3 weeks), ideally leave it with 80-90%.
  2. Turn off sentry mode

To further reduce the drain on the battery do the following:  

  1. Turn on energy savings.
  2. Uncheck always connected.
  3. Turn off Smart Preconditioning
  4. Don’t touch the app (if you can help it)
  5. If you use something like TeslaFI then change your Tesla account password or revoke access so that it can’t access your car (it will constantly talk to it, keeping it awake and wasting energy).

  Things to remember:

  • A cold vehicle will automatically start to heat the battery to keep it at safe levels
  • A hot car will automatically start to cool the battery to keep it at safe levels

Does this really work?

“Thought I would just share with any fellow newbies who may have concerns about battery drain when leaving the car for awhile. I have just returned after a 17 day holiday and left Ropes (MS75) at T4Hilton with 191 miles of range. Thanks to Will’s most helpful advice I shut her down as he suggested [this page] and the car was not moved at all whilst I was away nor did I use the app. I understand it had been pretty cold in the South East whilst I have been away so was expecting quite a bit of loss. On firing her up this morning I was delighted to see 169 miles of range so only 22 miles lost. I then drove to the South West topping up at Reading, Gordano and Darts Farm where the Mrs thought would be a good place to get a 6’ Christmas tree. At least it was cheaper than an aga” – Tesla Owner.

If you’re parking at an airport consider using a valet service that will charge your vehicle:

Or consider parking using https://www.justpark.com/ or similar where you can park on someone else’s driveway for a prolonged period with possible charge port.

Do you have the expertise? Share your knowledge!

Remember modifying your vehicle may invalidate part of your vehicle’s warranty.
Therefore, be careful and check with Tesla if unsure. Also any modifications will most likely need to be OK’d with your car insurance company.

To the best of our knowledge, these guides are correct and factual. However we take no responsibility if something does go wrong.

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