Do Electric Cars Lose Charge When Parked? With Helpful Info

Electric cars are likely going to be the future of personal transportation. They’re environmentally friendly, cheap to run and even outperform gasoline cars. However, electric cars rely on batteries to store charge, and people often wonder whether batteries can lose charge when the vehicle is parked. 

Electric cars lose a small portion of the charge when parked, which amounts to around 2-3% a month. Of course, that amount varies depending on the voltage of the battery and the make and model. Luckily, you can alter the settings in your EV to reduce the amount of charge lost when the car is parked. 

Keep reading to learn more in detail about how charge escapes from parked electric vehicles. We will also examine what steps you can take to reduce energy escaping and which electric cars are most prone to wasting energy. 

Why Do Electric Cars Lose Charge When Parked?

The batteries in electric cars store energy. However, these batteries are prone to leaking a small amount of power, even when they’re not being used. As a result, electric car owners may find themselves at a loss for power if they leave their cars sitting for too long. 

Electric cars lose charge when parked because they have small 12v batteries in place to power other systems onboard. This battery drains energy from the main battery when parked, resulting in a loss of charge over time. Extreme heat and cold may also deplete the batteries.

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One main issue with electric car batteries is leakage. These types of batteries will typically lose around 1% of their charge when left parked. This is often confusing to car owners when they notice this, although it’s not a cause of concern.
Photo @chibelek via Twenty20

Hot and Cold Weather Affects Batteries

The climate significantly impacts why electric cars lose charge when parked. If the weather is hot, the lithium-ion batteries – the primary source of power responsible for powering the wheels – will lose charge quickly and considerably deteriorate performance. 

In contrast, cold weather can also drain the batteries quicker as the vehicle will lose electricity keeping the batteries warm to protect them against the elements. As a result, you can expect some charge to escape during a cold snap.

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On a somewhat similar note, I also wrote a similar article where I discussed the Benefits of Electric Cars being able to park for free. Check it out!

Onboard Electronics and Essential Systems Reduce Charge

The onboard electronics that need to remain on when the car is parked draw power from the vehicle. Electronics like clocks, alarms, central locking systems all need electricity to function. 

This is a major source of lost energy after parking your car for some time. 

Some electric cars like Teslas are particularly prone to leaking charges, especially when the vehicle is Sensory Mode. A Tesla Model 3 is expected to leak roughly 1% of its charge when left parked overnight in suitable conditions. However, this number can increase when the weather is too hot or too cold. 

If you would like to learn more about how much charge the Tesla Model 3 loses in cold weather, check out this video:

How Can You Reduce the Loss of Charge in Parked Electric Vehicles?

Electric cars are almost guaranteed to lose some charge when left overnight or in storage for an extended period of time. As a result, you’re likely wondering what you can do to prevent this. 

To reduce the loss of charge in parked electric cars, store your vehicle when the batteries are between 20% and 50%. This is most effective when parking for an extended period. Also, park in a cool place that’s not freezing or above 100°F (38°C) to prevent loss of battery capacity and stored energy.

Leaving a fully charged electric vehicle in storage will all but guarantee more loss of power. In addition, over an extended period, a fully charged battery can also be damaged as this will accelerate wear and tear. Therefore, you should leave no more than 50% on the electric vehicle before placing it in storage. 

In contrast, storing your electric car when insufficiently charged will not allow the 12v battery to draw any power. This can disrupt your operating systems and features in your vehicle. As a result, a minimum charge of 20% is recommended to supply the 12v battery with enough power. 

How Long Can an Electric Car Sit Without Charging?

Now that you know some steps that you can take to prevent loss of charge and damages to your batteries, it’s time to figure out how long you can leave an electric car in storage without causing harm to the vehicle. So is there a limit as to how long electric cars can sit idle? 

An electric car should not sit without charging for more than three weeks. This is because the high voltage batteries will deteriorate when parked for extended periods. Therefore, if you need to park your electric car for more than three weeks, you should partially charge it every so often. 

As an added bonus to this article, I’ve created this easy-to-use charging calculator. Simply input your model, charging wattage, and charging percentage, and you will get the estimated time it will take to charge a Tesla in terms of hours. You can play around with numbers a bit just to see how charging time changes:

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Tesla Charging Calculator (Time):

Estimated Time It Takes To Charge Your Tesla

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Electric vehicles contain high voltage batteries that can be sensitive to several factors that influence wear and tear. However, the most likely cause of deterioration to batteries is usage. Charging your batteries then only using a few percent before fully charging again will massively decrease the storage capacity. 

Even if you store your electric car in ideal conditions, you more than likely will lose some battery capacity over time. 

Electric CarLoss of battery storage after 1 year (%) 
Chevrolet Bolt EV 0%
Tesla Model 30.6% 
BMW i30.9%
Tesla Model S1.1%
Mercedes-benz B Class EV 1.2%
This table compares electric cars and how much battery storage is lost after one year

Final Thoughts

Electric cars are growing in popularity year after year. One of the reasons for electric cars growing in popularity is the addition of powerful lithium-ion batteries that allow them to go faster and further than before. 


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Erwin Meyer
Erwin Meyer

Thanks for visiting evspeedy.com. The goal of this site is to be a helpful resource for Tesla and EV owners as this is where my passion lies. I was a TSLA shareholder before the hype and still am. I also believe in Tesla’s speedy mission to accelerate the world to a sustainable future.