Do Electric Cars Lose Charge When Parked? (2024)

Do Electric Cars Lose Charge When Parked? (1)

One of the biggest fears that many people have when they switch to be an electric car owner is running out of charge. Whilst a petrol or a diesel car can be revived with a can of fuel if it runs out, an electric car must be plugged in to a charge point to recharge the battery which can be tricky depending on location. However, if you go on holiday and leave the car in a long stay car park, are you going to return to find your electric car with no charge at all?

The short answer is no, provided that you had some charge in the car when you left it there.

What kind of batteries are used in electric cars?

Most electric vehicles run on lithium ion batteries as they have a high power-to-weight ratio which means that they hold a lot of energy for their weight, which is crucial when being used in an electric vehicle. Lighter batteries mean that they can travel further on a single charge.

The other advantage of lithium ion batteries is that they have a low "self discharge" rate which means that they maintain a full charge over time better than other battery types.

All of this factors in to being able to leave your electric car for an extended period of time.

Do Electric Cars Lose Charge When Parked? (2)

So do electric cars lose charge when parked?

Whilst lithium ion batteries do lose charge when the car is parked for an extended period, the good news is that this is usually a very minimal amount of the overall charge. Most electric cars can expect to lose only lose a few percent of their charge a month if sitting idle.

Electric cars, like most modern cars, have multiple electronic systems in place to continuously monitor your car whether it's driving or not. As these systems run endlessly in the background to keep the key components operational and running smoothly they are naturally using some of the battery power, with the high voltage battery taking over powering some of these systems from the standard 12v battery.

As is the case whilst driving, temperature can play a factor in the amount of charge that your electric car loses whilst parked too . Extreme temperatures in either direction can cause your car battery power to drain. In cold weather electric cars will continuously warm areas to prevent from getting too cold and causing parts to malfunction.

Conversely, in hot weather a parked electric car will do the opposite and employ the cooling systems, particularly around the battery itself to protect it from long term damage.

Do Electric Cars Lose Charge When Parked? (3)

How can you prepare your car?

If you know that you're going to be leaving your electric car parked for an extended period of time it's worth noting that manufacturers don't recommend charging the battery completely or letting it dwindle before you leave your car parked.

Leaving the battery power too high or too low whilst letting your electric car sit can actually damage the battery cells in the long run. Instead, they recommend anywhere between 50% and 80% charge being ideal. Many electric cars allow you to set how much you would like it to charge when you have your vehicle plugged in, making it easier for you to protect your battery life.

Some cars do have a sleep or power save mode so that the car systems know not to expect to be in use but differ from car to car. The Nissan Leaf recommends keeping the car unplugged from the charging station so that it can enter "deep sleep" whilst others recommend leaving the car plugged in to your home charger so that there is power to battery cooling or heating systems. Your user manual will let you know what is best for your specific car.

Some unnecessary systems can also be turned off within the car whilst it's parked for long periods which will help with energy saving. If your car receives automatic updates you can switch those off or if you usually have it set up to start and heat up before you need to leave that can be switched off too.

Do Electric Cars Lose Charge When Parked? (4)


Overall, buyers shouldn't be worried if they need to leave their electric car to sit idle or if a change in circ*mstances means that they reduce their usage drastically. The systems that continue to run in the car will use a minimal amount of the overall charge to keep the car functional but won't drain the charge fully.

Simple things like keeping your vehicle out of direct sunlight, or parking it somewhere covered can help to maintain charge whilst you're not using your electric car. Being aware of what systems are unnecessary and only really need to be on when you're using the car will preserve more of the last charge when parked, but generally you don't need to do anything special if leaving your electric car to sit for any length of time.

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Do Electric Cars Lose Charge When Parked? (2024)


Do Electric Cars Lose Charge When Parked? ›

Summary. Electric vehicles (EVs) lose a small amount of charge while parked, even when entirely turned off. This happens very slowly and is usually not an issue for drivers.

Do electric cars lose their charge when parked? ›

Whilst lithium ion batteries do lose charge when the car is parked for an extended period, the good news is that this is usually a very minimal amount of the overall charge. Most electric cars can expect to lose only lose a few percent of their charge a month if sitting idle.

How much do EV batteries drain when not in use? ›

Most electric cars will only lose about 2-3% of their charge a month while sitting idle. That means that if you had a car with a 220-mile range, you could expect to lose about 4.5-7 miles out of your whole charge over the course of a month. Avoid extremely high or low temperatures to help preserve charge.

How much charge does an EV lose sitting? ›

It is suggested that an electric car will only lose around 2-3% of its charge a month whilst parked without being driven. So if you have an EV with a 200-mile range, you would expect to lose approximately 4 to 6 miles over the duration of a month.

Do electric cars lose their charge in cold weather? ›

Colder batteries don't work as well. The ideal operating temperature for an EV battery is between about 68 and 86 degrees, depending on the model. As the temperature drops, the electrochemical processes the battery uses to charge slows down.

Can I leave my EV unplugged for a week? ›

Unless you are leaving the car for an extended period, for example more than a month, your electric vehicle battery will be fine to leave unplugged.

Should I charge my electric car every night? ›

Even EVs with shorter battery ranges can cover a good portion of the week when driving the typical 37 miles per day. Unless you have a regular long-distance commute, you don't need to charge your electric car every night.

What drains an electric car battery the most? ›

The single biggest drain on your battery, other than actually driving, is climate control. Whether that's keeping you cool in summer or toasty in winter, systems typically require about 3-4kW to run, which equates to seven miles of range per hour to run the air-con and five miles per hour to run heaters.

Is life with an electric car in winter really a nightmare? ›

Reality check: Most electric vehicles experience some loss of driving range in cold weather. In Norway — where half of all new cars are plug-ins — tests show that EVs lose about 20% of their driving range and take longer to charge in cold temperatures, according to the Norwegian Automobile Federation.

Will charging my EV to 100% really damage the battery? ›

It's important to note that you can charge your EV to 100%, but it's just that for optimal battery life over the long haul, charging to a lower percentage is a good idea. It's like changing engine oil in an old-school vehicle.

Can you jump start an electric car? ›

It's impossible to jump start an EV if the goal is to charge the large battery pack that sends power to the car's electric motor and keeps its wheels moving. But you can jump start the EV's smaller 12-volt battery if it runs out of juice; this may be necessary in certain situations.

What happens if your EV runs out of charge on the road? ›

Electric cars can be shifted into neutral and pushed over short distances, and they can be towed, but only on a flatbed truck. If you do find yourself stranded with a dead EV battery, you really only have one option: Call a towing company to get you to a charging station.

Is it safe to sit in EV while charging? ›

So whether you've such a device, like a pacemaker or defibrillator, or not, sitting in your car while charging is generally safe.

Are electric cars good in the snow? ›

A growing number of EVs have all-wheel drive models available. Most EVs have front-wheel drive. Combined with good winter tires and modern traction control systems front-wheel drive is fine for most winter driving in the northeast. Rear-wheel drive (RWD) systems can be less predictable on slippery roads.

Are electric cars in trouble? ›

The survey of over 300,000 vehicles found electric models suffer 79% more maintenance problems than gas-powered cars. Meanwhile, plug-in hybrids fared even worse — with a concerning 146% more issues reported by drivers.

Does hot weather affect electric cars? ›

On average, EVs lose 17% of their range when the temperature reaches 95 degrees Fahrenheit. That's a smaller drop than you can expect in cold weather, but it's still potentially disruptive. Plus, charging and storing your EV in extreme heat can shorten the battery's life.

How long can a car sit before the battery goes dead? ›

A lot can depend on what condition your car battery is in. If you know your car battery is relatively new and has been kept in good condition, it can probably sit unused for about two weeks before it goes flat, however in other cases a car battery can last between two weeks to four months.

Is it bad to park EV outside? ›

Just like gas-powered cars, EVs tend to run better when protected from freezing temperatures. Parking indoors or in a covered space during cold weather can help ensure your EV can go the distance through even the frostiest winter days.

How long can a Tesla be parked without charging? ›

says: “It is expected for a Tesla car to consume around 1% of charge per day while parked.” So you want to have enough battery left when you return to at least move it to a charging location. Were it me, I'd make sure it was plugged in especially if it is parked in cold weather.


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