Find Out If Vampire Drain Is A Big Deal With Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3


What is vampire drain/phantom drain and how can you monitor it?

Some of you inquired about Ben’s phantom drain issue that he reported during his Tesla Model 3 range test. Apparently, our readers weren’t the only ones who wanted more details.

Watch Also: Vampire Drain Very High In Parked (Off) Tesla Model X

Related: See How Far This Tesla Model 3 Goes Before It Needs A Tow

During Ben’s Monday live question-and-answer session, he discusses the issue. He also goes on to answer a multitude of other questions and provide a wealth of information.

Ben uses the TezLab (TesLab) app to monitor his vehicles. With this convenient and comprehensive app, you can actually track your Tesla’s phantom drain, among many other stats.

This way, you can be aware of when it is happening, what may be causing it, and potentially make some adjustments to settings that will improve the issue. However, Ben is sure to point out that phantom drain is something that isn’t completely avoidable with any EV.

Video Description via Teslanomics by Ben Sullins on YouTube:

In this Q&A I answer your top questions including the Phantom Drain issue I experienced in my recent Tesla Model 3 test.

If you’re interested in more information about the TezLab (TesLab) app and exactly what its uses are, check out the video below. Keep in mind that this is an older video, and Ben seems confident now that TezLab (TesLab) has fixed the earlier privacy issues related to the app:

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28 Comments on "Find Out If Vampire Drain Is A Big Deal With Tesla Model 3"

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I wonder how much battery is drained servicing requests from TesLab?

No useful information as to how much phantom drain there is in 3. Just says its unavoidable. Wasted my time watching video…

Thanks for the summary … really should have been in the story body.

Agreed. Seems more like an Ad for Teslab.


“However, Ben is sure to point out that phantom drain is something that isn’t completely avoidable with any EV.”

I’d love to hear the qualifiers on this statement. When the Chevy Volt is off, for example, the high voltage battery is disconnected from everything. There’s no phantom draw. During charging when plugged in, the high voltage to 12VDC charger will run to keep the 12V battery topped off, but that’s it.

Despite no high voltage connection when turned off, with the Volt you get OnStar connectivity via 12V power for several days to do remote start, etc. before it, too, goes into a “sleep” mode to preserve the 12V battery (like any other car).

There is also no appreciable phantom drain in my 2013 Leaf. I’ll leave it off for a week and when I return it is at the same percent battery as when I left it. I’m sure there is some drain, but it is negligible. That’s the value of being 100% dumb!

I left my Bolt unplugged for nearly 4 weeks last year during the summer while on vacation. I came back, and the range reading was exactly the same compared to when I left it 4 weeks prior.

I had the same experience with Volt years ago. No measurable drain sitting in the garage for 1 1/2 month.

Same with my Kia Soul EV

I have done 1 week with my eGolf and the battery needle was in the exact same spot…compared photos. This is a very annoying aspect of owning a Tesla.

e-Golf is very good in this regard. One guy left the car parked for a whole year. Traction battery was exactly the same and the 12V didn’t die either.

You’ve all highlighted what I suspected to be true… Traditional automakers have no issues at all with phantom drain on EVs, as they treat it just like every other car. Tesla’s chosen way to implement their highly connected car does not follow the same best practices convention.

I don’t know why the author chose to conclude that everyone has some phantom drain. In reality, I really wish Tesla would figure out how to implement their functionality properly, without any drain. It IS possible, it just requires a bit more thought and deliberate design for such.

Also, until very recently, their equipment ran hotter than other manufacturers and pushed things closer to the absolute limit. The tires on my Roadster were run at ABSOLUTE MAXIMUM load rating with 300 lbs of people in the car, and some pounds in the trunk. The “S” had murmuring gearboxes due to not being as conservatively designed as the BOlt ev.

The charging only recently has been ‘standardized’ at 32 amperes with the charge cord, and troublesome connections have been placed far away from the building receptacle. About time.

PEVs with an actual on/off switch usually don’t have phantom drain. The problem with no on/off switch is that it is designed to quickly waking up. The frequent communication (alternating between wake/sleep) can cause drains to the system. Some Model 3 owners reported that having phones in the house and driveway sometimes wakes up their Model 3 parked in the garage. I can see how that would wake up Model 3 unnecessarily.

The 2012-2014 RAV4 EV completely isolates the traction battery when parked. You don’t lose any range when parked. However, the cellular connection, the keyless entry and other things are active, so it will eventually kill the 12V battery. A simple jump start will get you back on the road, but these cars are very hard on the 12V if you don’t drive them every day. If you routinely leave it parked for a week at a time, then you will have to replace the 12V in 2 years or less due to deep cycling. We now recommend a 60Ah AGM battery for these cars due to the way the car deep cycles the battery.

The key difference with Tesla vehicles is that they use more energy from the 12V when parked, so they monitor the 12V battery and wake up and charge the 12V from the traction battery. That is the source of the Vampire Drain. If you leave a Tesla plugged in, it will recharge the traction battery from the wall every couple days.

Glad you mentioned that CLarkson….. Tesla owners just ASSUME that since their cars do it ALL cars do it. The drain from the old volt – was imperceptible….. Now, of course its true in extremely cold or extremely hot weather, the car has to draw some power from the cord to keep the battery at a comfortable temperature – but its not really much at all unless parked in the direct sun. ON TMC this week there is the tale of a New Model 3 owner picking up his car, and then discovering that he can’t charge it with the included 110/220 cord. So he went and paid $$$ at the SuperCharger and the car DID indeed charge, but he went to bed with 180 miles, and had somewhat over 90 miles the next morning. Now, there was obviously something seriously wrong – but why would Tesla release a car like that with a MAJOR failure? The magpies will say: 1). The BOLT ev radio is only working at 99% functionality until the next software upgrade. 2). The Bolt ev MAY eventually have a connection problem in the battery that GM will tell you about. HEAVENS! What a big crime… Read more »

Hello, for a french guy… could you explain what is ” phantom drain” ?
in simple words.

Thank you

“phantom drain” and “vampire drain” are both used to describe the “loss” of range or battery charge, usually overnight, when the car was just sitting parked. So if you park your car in your garage at 8pm with 200 mile range showing, and you check it again at 8am and it’s now showing 195 miles, you “lost” 5 miles of range, even though you didn’t drive anywhere. One of the theories is that a Tesla never sleeps, it’s constantly connected to the internet, so there is some minimal battery usage all the time. Hope this helps.

In simple terms, “Phantom Drain” is loss of energy from the battery due to subsystems drawing power even when the vehicle is “off”

Tesla is notorious for this; they’ve gotten much better with each new vehicle introduction, but continue to be worse than any other auto manufacturer.

As my comment above indicates: On Tesla Motors Club this week there is a brand new Model 3 driver that picked up his car and found right off the bat the 110/220 charging cord in the trunk couldn’t recharge the car, and when he charged the thing at a supercharger, he went to bed with 180 miles range, and woke up with 90.
Obviously something is not right, but why would Tesla release a brand new car like that?

Its like FORD selling a pickup truck that has the gas tank fall out of it as soon as you leave the dealership.

“Ben is sure to point out that phantom drain is something that isn’t completely avoidable with any EV.”

Complete poppycock. I once left my Zoe unplugged for a 3 week holiday. When I got back it had exactly the same battery charge level. It didn’t even lose 1%. This is a Tesla-only problem afaik.

I agree, that statement is patently false. If he changed “with any EV” to “with any Tesla EV” then he’d be correct. And to be more forward looking/positive, that could instead state “with any Tesla EV thus far”

Don’t Teslas run battery conditioning when parked? It seems like the extra longevity that imparts (at least in my hot climate) is worth the vampire drain while off.

In theory, you’re correct, but in practice, it’s not always necessary. There’s a temperature that the battery doesn’t like to be when it’s in use, and there’s a temperature the battery never likes to be regardless. The second one does not need nearly as much cooling, and heck, even the first one doesn’t, with a properly insulated pack and a sound thermal management design.

Everyone should keep in mind that guessometers don’t always register range loss until you start to drive and the car recalculates range

You drive a mile and your range goes down two miles or five miles. That’s how phantom loss

Also all batteries lose some charge just sitting. Vampire drain or not

“Also all batteries lose some charge just sitting. Vampire drain or not”

Not really. Yes, they can have some internal resistance losses over long periods of time, but in other cases in the short term, they could just as easily have their voltage float a bit higher while parked. It’s a function of temperature and battery state of charge.

And what the author is referring to from Tesla is most certainly not this very miniscule loss of charge you’re referring to as a function of the inherent battery chemistry; the loss from the Tesla is many orders of magnitude higher than that and due to poor implementation of all the vehicle electrical subsystems.

That’s why I call him the SuperDope (I’m forced to include this moniker with every communication to NIX since he accused someone else of being ‘ME’ once to make me look good. SO I include the Moniker every time so that he knows its really ME, hehe).

GM cars may recalculate range, but the basic percentage stage of charge that was in the battery the night before is exactly the same the next morning.