Tesla Long-term Storage Tips: What You Need to Know

The average Tesla owner drives for only 3.5 days a week, which means that a significant amount of time is spent in in your garage a.k.a storage.

Storing a Tesla for an extended period of time can be a bit trickier than with a gas-powered car. From charging the battery to protecting the car from the elements, there are several steps that must be taken to ensure that your Tesla is ready to hit the road when you are.

In this article, we will provide an in-depth guide on how to store your Tesla for the long-term, including tips on maintaining the battery, protecting the car from the elements, and more. So whether you’re planning a longer trip, or just want to ensure that your Tesla is in top condition for everyday use, this guide will help you make sure your Tesla is ready to go when you are.

3 Necessities When Storing a Tesla

If you need to store your Tesla for an extended time, your first question is probably about the batteries. Should you keep the car plugged in, and if so, what charge level should you set it to? Besides the battery, is there anything special about storing a Tesla?

To store a Tesla, you should try to find a space where you can:

  • Keep it plugged in
  • Inflate the tires
  • Protect it from rodents

The ideal location to store your car is a garage, but a storage facility or parking garage are alternative options. 

Storing a fuel-powered car is not as simple as parking and forgetting – fill the gas tank, add a fuel stabilizer, get an oil and filter change, and disconnect the battery. The same is true for storing a Tesla—it is not as simple as plugging in the car and leaving it in the garage. Read on as I walk you through each of those steps.

Keeping a Tesla Plugged In When Not in Use

Ideally, you should keep your Tesla plugged in while you are gone to prevent the batteries from draining since they will discharge if not plugged in. Although numerous factors affect the amount of discharge, the last thing you want is a Tesla with no remaining charge.

Leaving your car plugged in will make things easier and let the car handle the batteries without you having to worry about it. If you have been using a standard wall outlet, you can continue to use it. 

Read this related article that I wrote called: How Long Can an Electric Car Sit Without Charging? The post might answer the question that you didn’t get from this one.

Lithium-ion batteries should be stored in a 30-70% range, but most owners set the charge level around 50%. The car will automatically utilize some energy to cool or heat the battery when needed. It will draw this electricity from the power supply rather than Tesla’s batteries.

Do not be alarmed if you check the battery level/mileage, and it is below 50%. The battery might fall a few points below that before charging kicks in.

If possible, park your car in your garage to protect it from the weather. High and low temperatures can damage the batteries.

How To Store Your Tesla Long Term
Ideally, you want to leave your car plugged in and stored in a location where it isn’t exposed to the elements.
Photo by Michael Fousert on Unsplash

Leaving a Tesla Plugged In for Months

You can leave a Tesla plugged in for months and not worry about damaging the batteries, thanks to the car’s ability to regulate how much charge the batteries have. 

First, there’s no danger in leaving your Tesla plugged in because it won’t overcharge thanks to software safety features that protect it from overheating.

More importantly, lithium-ion batteries don’t like to be left fully charged or in a low state of charge. That isn’t to say we shouldn’t ever charge to 100% or run it down to 5%, but you should try to avoid those instances as much as possible.

How Much Charge Tesla Batteries Lose When Parked Long Term

If a Tesla is left unplugged, it will consume 1% of its charge daily. This loss will be higher if features like Sentry Mode, preconditioning, and Keep Climate On on active. To cut back on battery use, turn off those features.

If you plan to leave the Tesla in storage for a month, a full charge will drop to 70%, which is nothing to worry about. Even a 40% charge per month won’t cause a problem. But in three months, an unplugged Tesla will edge closer to being drained.

Putting a Tesla in a Storage Facility

If you don’t have access to a garage, you might want to inquire about putting your vehicle into a storage facility. When picking a facility, make sure it has several features to protect your car.

  • Charging option. If you’re leaving for a week or two, this might not be an issue. But if you are storing the Tesla for a month or more, find a car storage facility with charging stations or electric outlets.
  • Security. Look into the company’s security measures to protect against theft and burglary. The vehicle storage facility should provide comprehensive insurance and protection options. Gated access to the site should be provided, preferably with high gates with wiring at the top to discourage climbing. Whatever electric car storage you pick should include on-site monitoring, alarm-protected units, and video surveillance.
  • Protection. Some vehicle storage facilities do not provide indoor storage, which means your automobile will be parked on an outdoor lot for an extended time. Finding an auto storage facility with indoor storage is essential to protect your car’s batteries.

On a somewhat similar note, I also wrote an In-depth guide about Electric Cars and if they are Cheaper To Insure?Feel free to inform yourself

What to do if you can’t put your Tesla in Storage

If you cannot store your car in a storage facility or your home, try to find a parking garage to keep it out of rain, wind, and heat.

Because your car will be disconnected and unable to charge, you may help the battery last longer by turning off Sentry Mode, which wastes a lot of energy.

If you ever encounter the “Tesla Unable To Charge, Service Required” error message, check out this solution that I provided in this related article.

You could switch off ‘Cabin overheat protection,’ which prevents the cabin from overheating.

Make sure the car has a good phone connection where you park so you can check the battery level on your Tesla app. However, please don’t use it too much because it will wake up the car for around 15 minutes, wasting energy.

Inflating the Tires before storage or not…

The advice on whether you should inflate the tires varies, depending on who you talk to. Some advise you should over-inflate them, others suggest car cradles, and a few people argue that the flat spots will disappear once the car is driven a few miles.

When any car is parked for an extended time, a “Flat Spot” forms in the tires. These can cause vibrations or a lack of grip when you first drive the car, and they can be annoying and a little dangerous.

Tesla suggests that the owner inflate the tires to the maximum pressure, as indicated by the tire’s sidewall, and upon returning, return the tire pressure to the recommended levels.

Some drivers take it a step further and use jack stands to keep the vehicle’s weight off the tires. They suggest jack stands or tire cradles prevent flat spots. But then others point out that leaving a car on jack stands for an extended time could damage the suspension.

Tire Cradles are engineered to support and preserve the tire’s shape by conforming to it. In addition, tire cradles protect tires from temperature changes. Finally, cradles are not cheap, and not all tire manufacturers are sold on them.

Michelin, in a post about Flat Spotting, writes they do not “have any data to verify that tire cradles help reduce flat spot. We do know that when you store your tires in a cradle or not, if they are over-inflated, exposed to chemicals or excessive heat, your tires are at risk of damage, including flat spotting.”

Michelin also suggests that tires not be over-inflated in high temperatures, or the flat spots will become “semi-permanent” and require more driving.

Since neither Tesla nor tire manufacturers recommend using jack stands, Tesla’s advice to inflate to maximum pressure seems sound. Just deflate to recommended levels and be prepared to drive about 20 minutes.

I compared the best Model Y Lift Kit Brands in this related and helpful article. Check it out!

Protect Your Tesla From Bugs and Other Critters

Since mice and other critters have found newer cars, including Teslas, edible, you should protect your vehicle from rodents. There are several features of your car that make them attractive.

Wiring insulation is an essential part of a car’s electrical components. In the past, automobiles were wired with oil-based insulation, but many modern manufacturers, like Tesla, have chosen soy-based insulation. They have switched to soy-based wiring because it is far less expensive and better for the environment.

The issue with Tesla’s soy-based wire insulation isn’t new; a class-action lawsuit was filed against Toyota over a similar circumstance in which rats were drawn to the wire because of the product.

Mice and other rodents also like nestling in a Tesla for warmth. Charging batteries creates heat and offers a warm home for the critters.

Some of the methods owners have used to keep the rodents away include the following:

  • Set traps around your car. 
  • Spray the garage with fox urine.
  • Install a “Rat Mat,” which utilizes electric currents to repel the critters.

If you have a recurring problem with rodents, consider using a RatMat (known as GridGuards on the West Coast.) The interlocking tiles are like electric fence-rats, and mice will not walk on them, but you can walk on them with your shoes.

How Cold Weather Affects a Tesla’s Battery

A recent Forbes article, “Tesla has a Battery Problem,” points to a problem that plagues manufacturers of EV vehicles, including Tesla. Cold weather has a significant negative influence on battery performance. Why is that?

The electrolyte solution in a battery transports ions between the positive and negative electrodes. As the temperature drops, the liquid thickens. As a result, the ions flow more slowly, causing increased resistance. The higher the resistance, the faster you will lose power.

Tesla is aware of the problem and has been working on improving the performance of its batteries in cold weather. The Verge reported on an announcement that the company was developing a “tabless” battery. The electrical path in these batteries is reduced from 250 mm (9.84 in) to 50 mm (1.96 in).

The shorter path will decrease resistance and improve battery life. Unfortunately, the announcement was made at the end of 2020 by Elon Musk, and the batteries are not being installed in Teslas at the time of this writing.

How Long Tesla Batteries Last

All batteries will degrade over time, so concerns about the battery life are not uncommon. However, Tesla warranties their batteries for eight years, and real-life users have documented they could last well beyond that.

Tesla owners on a European Tesla Forum have been collecting data from over 350 Teslas worldwide. They regularly update the data in a public Google spreadsheet. Electrek reported the data in a blog post.

MileageBattery Capacity
50,000 km (31,000 miles)96%
100,000 km (62,000 miles)94%
150,000 km (93,000 miles)93%
200,000 km (124,000 miles)92%
250,000 km (155,000 miles)91.5%
This data table clearly reveals that most Tesla battery packs will lose roughly 5% of their capacity during the first 50,000 miles (100,000 km), but after that, the capacity levels off, and it appears that degrading a pack by another 5% will occur after your vehicle travels 186,000 miles (300,000 km).

Tesla claims the battery packs will outlast the cars, and the real-life data suggests they are right.

Use Tesla Camp Mode when in storage

Maybe instead of leaving your Tesla behind when you vacation, consider relying on the car’s Camp Mode. With this feature, you can put the rear seats down and turn your Tesla into a miniature hotel on wheels.

The car remains comfortable throughout the night by controlling the temperature, interior lighting, and ventilation, making a night in a Tesla similar to a night in a hotel room.

In an eight-hour period, Camp Mode will consume around 10% of the battery. Of course, the battery will be drained more quickly if it is frigid because it will have to work harder to keep the interior temperature you’ve selected. That might bring your usage rate to 15 percent. Just remember that these are estimations and averages; don’t leave yourself without enough juice to make it to a charging station.

To enable camp mode, your car has to be in the Parked Mode. Next, tap on the fan icon, find the “Keep climate on” setting and change it to “Camp.” If you want to change the temperature, you can do so.

Tesla has incorporated an Easter Egg into the Camp Mode. Ten minutes after Camp Mode is activated, 

Maintaining Your Tesla’s Exterior and Interior for Long-term Storage

Maintaining the exterior and interior of your Tesla is crucial to ensure that your car stays in good condition while it’s in storage. Here are some tips for keeping your Tesla in tip-top shape:

Cleaning and protecting the paint:

Regularly cleaning and protecting the paint of your Tesla is crucial to ensure that it stays in good condition. Use a mild car wash soap and a microfiber cloth to clean the exterior of your car.

Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials as they can damage the paint. Once you’ve washed and dried the car, apply a coat of wax or sealant to protect the paint. This will help to prevent scratches and oxidation.

Using a car cover:

Using a car cover is one of the best ways to protect the exterior of your Tesla while it’s in storage. A car cover will protect your Tesla from dust, debris, and other environmental elements that can damage the paint. It’s important to choose a car cover that is specifically designed for electric vehicles and that is made of high-quality, breathable material to prevent moisture buildup.

Other tips to maintain the exterior and interior of your Tesla include:

  • Make sure that the tires are properly inflated. Low tire pressure can cause uneven wear and tear on the tires.
  • Prevent rodents from nesting in the car by using natural or chemical repellents.
  • Keep the interior of the car clean. Vacuum the seats and carpets regularly, and use a damp cloth to wipe down the dashboard and door panels.
  • Keep windows closed and the car locked to prevent rain, dust, and dirt from entering the car.
  • Make sure to turn off Sentry Mode, Cabin Overheat Protection, and other features that consume battery power to prevent unnecessary battery drain.

By following these tips, you can help to ensure that your Tesla stays in good condition while it’s in storage and that it’s ready to hit the road when you’re ready to take it out for a spin.

Remember to check the charge level regularly, and charge it up to 50% if you plan to store it for a long period of time. Also, use the Tesla app to monitor your car’s energy consumption and to ensure that it stays in good condition.

Protect your Tesla from the elements and keep it in good condition

To protect your Tesla from the elements and keep it in good condition while in storage, there are several best practices that Tesla owners should follow.

One of the most important things to consider is the charge level of the battery. As stated already in this article, Tesla recommends storage at a charge level between 30-70%. Maintaining the battery at this level can help prevent battery degradation, which is the reduction of the battery’s original capacity over time.

This is particularly important in extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, as they can affect the battery’s performance. Tesla owners can monitor and adjust the charge level of their cars through the Tesla app, which allows them to set a charge limit.

Another important aspect to consider is energy consumption. Features like Sentry Mode and preconditioning, which are designed to keep the car secure and comfortable, can consume a significant amount of energy when left on for long periods of time. To cut back on energy consumption, Tesla owners can turn off these features while the car is in storage to prevent vampire drain.

If you’d like to find out more about Vampire Drain in Teslas, check out this related article that I wrote. It will give you a clear overview.

For Tesla owners who are concerned about power outages, the Tesla Powerwall can provide backup power for your Tesla during a power outage. By using solar panels, the Powerwall can charge during the day and provide power to your Tesla during the night or when the power goes out.

Overall, the best way to protect your Tesla from the elements and maintain it in good condition while in storage is to stay vigilant about the charge level, energy consumption, and maintenance of your Tesla.

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Tesla Long-term Storage Tips: What You Need to Know 1
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.