Minimise Tesla Vampire battery drain

Last updated 04-May-2022

Your Tesla loses range when parked caused by something called "Vampire battery drain" or just "Vampire drain". This can vary from a few miles per day to quite significant amounts depending on the settings in the car and can be a problem if leaving your car while on holiday. This guide tells you how you can minimise Tesla vampire drain.

What is "Vampire Battery Drain"?

Your Tesla never completely goes to sleep. It contains lots of computer systems that do various functions from monitoring the health of the battery, listening to see if Tesla are trying to connect to the car over the air, being ready to open the doors when you walk up to the car or running Sentry Mode to record anybody approaching your car. The number of computer systems that are running can vary when the car is parked and the trade off it usually between responsiveness of the car and the amount of power consumed. You may sometimes see the car say "powering up" or your the App saying "Waking up car", essentially you are waiting for the relevant computer to fire up.

Most of the time this isn't really a problem as the loss is relativity small over a short period of time and many people plug in to charge over night and do not see the impact of vampire drain. Over the course of a year it can however add up and be quite considerable. Where the issue is most noticeable is when leaving the car for more than a couple of days and not on charge. A typical example might be at an airport long stay car park when going off on a 2 week vacation. The wrong settings could mean you return to a flat battery. This has also become more of a problem with the introduction of features like sentry mode and the increased number of 3rd party applications that may keep pinging the car and are not good at respecting the car going to sleep.

Note 1: Discharging the HV (main) Battery to 0% may permanently damage it. To protect against a complete discharge the car will go into self protection mode but even this has a finite duration of a couple of months and would need charging before use.

Note 2: The HV battery supplies power to the 12V battery. If the 12V battery also becomes depleted then even opening the car will be a problem. Access to the 12V battery is possible and this battery can be boosted allowing the car to start charging but in practice the car will still need recovering to a suitable charger

Using Apps

Tesla talk to the car via an API and many 3rd party developers have reverse engineered this and use it for alternative purposes. While the API has imprived over the years, and well written applications will not wake up the car when not needed, some apps are less well written or require specific settings to be set to allow the car to sleep. Any app with sleep settings may appear to be well written but is actually poorly implemented as there are many commands that can be used to see if the car is asleep without actually waking it. As a result settings should not be required.

Be careful when using 3rd party apps if leaving the car for any length of time. This can include automated charging schedulers. As an aside, we do not recommend any 3rd party app that retains your any of your details or tokens. The Tesla security is not sufficient and the Multi Factor Security and Pin to Drive are generally bypassed if the Tokens are available to a 3rd party.

Also avoided excessive use of the Tesla App. Every time you access the car data you are starting up computers and increasing the drain on the battery. Owners sometimes like to check in on the car every few hours when on holiday especially if they are worried about the battery drain and this will just accelerate the vampire drain.

Sentry Mode

While a great option, this is a simply dreadful option with respect to vampire drain. The car is kept in a high state of power consumption and is the single most important thing you should turn off to minimise battery drain when leaving the car for any length of time.

Power Management option

Within some older cars there is a power management option for energy saving and Always connected. The most efficient combination is Energy Saving = On and Always connected left unticked.

In day to day use, many leave Energy Saving off as this is still reasonably efficient.

Climate control

Simply NEVER use Smart preconditioning. It rarely works well and can result in the car heating itself up even when you have no intention of using it.

Dog mode, Camping mode etc all use energy from the battery, and while fine for short periods, they should be left off when leaving the car for any length of time.

Software updates

It has been known for the car to end up in a perculiar state following a software update which prevents the car from sleeping. If you notice the car not sleeping or having excessive drain after a software update, manually reboot the computer by holding down the scroll wheels.

Cars may also not sleep when they are downloading an update or new navigation maps. It is best to have the car connected to reasonably fast internet connection if possible as this reduces the time to download the update.

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