Do electric cars lose charge when parked?

Cars are made to be used, no matter if it’s a combustion engine car or an EV. However, we live in peculiar times, and this question is now more relevant than ever because Covid-19 loves to propose lockdowns and general movement restrictions.

As such, we ought to understand what happens to an EV if we leave it parked for an extended period of time. Even though EVs lose a small amount of battery charge while parked, this can add up if you leave your car parked for a while.

As a general rule of thumb, a high voltage battery with at least 10% of charge can last as much as six months. This does vary between different cars, but if all the unnecessary systems are disengaged, you should not worry about draining your battery any time soon.

Although leaving a car parked is not going to completely discharge your battery, it’s best to leave your car parked with at least 50% battery capacity.

Always charge your car before you park it for a long time

As mentioned previously, high-voltage batteries lose insignificant amounts of battery capacity per month, and there is no need to worry if you leave it parked for a while. The best option would be to charge the car up to at least 50%-80%, unplug it, and leave it be.

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If you charge your battery up completely and leave your car unattended for a while, this can even damage your battery. To be 100% sure you are doing the right thing, check the owner’s manual or look for online manufacturer recommendations.

Many EVs nowadays come with a feature called ‘’Deep sleep mode’’. This feature allows the car to disengage all of the unnecessary power-sapping systems when parked for a long time. This will minimize the long-term battery consumption while not in use. More often than not, you will have to engage Deep sleep mode before you park the car.

Some systems such as a dashboard clock or a central locking light indicator are redundant if the car is not in use for a while, and these are the types of systems ‘’Deep sleep mode’’ aims to disengage. It is worth mentioning that all of the vital car safety components will not be turned off if everything is as it should be.


How to prepare your EV for long-term parking?

If you decide to leave your EV in a parking spot for an extended period, be sure to follow these steps to maximize the battery capacity and to keep your car as safe as possible. First of all, be sure to charge the car up to at least 50% battery capacity, and park it in a safe area with all the windows and doors sealed up.

Of course, there is no need to do so if you own a private garage that is inaccessible to the general public. It is always best to air up your tires according to the manufacturer’s recommendation because deflated tires are known to cause flat spots and many other tire defects which can significantly shorten their lifespan.

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It is always best to clean your car up as some contaminants can damage your paint if not cleaned for a while. This is especially important if you own a car painted in a satin/matte/frozen finish. These types of car paints are way more sensitive and prone to scuffs and damage. Also, be sure to clean the interior for the very same reason.

What happens if you don’t drive your car regularly?

As previously stated, cars are meant to be driven. If you don’t drive them all that often, they tend to break down and cause issues. Even though some of those issues are minor and quite frankly irrelevant, some of them can even cause serious problems.

The most common issue long-term parked cars experience is a dead battery. A smaller 12V battery is not designed to last if not charged up while driving. Such compact batteries are not designed to last a long time if they are not charged regularly.

Brakes are also designed to be used, and if not, they are prone to corroding which can completely ruin your brakes. This happens when you drive your car during rain, and after that, leave it sitting for a long time. Even though brake disc corrosion goes away after you engage the brakes a few times, if you don’t engage them, the issue will persist.

FAQ Section

How long can you leave your car parked?

If you own a combustion engine car, and you don’t leave your car plugged in, as little as two weeks is enough for the battery to completely discharge. That being said, if you do plug in your car, the battery should be able to last for years.

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As far as EVs are concerned, they are better at staying functional while being parked, you should not leave them parked for more than a few months. However, if you do air up your tires and you clean the car up and do everything necessary, you’ll be able to leave the car for years.

Is it okay to drive a car once a week?

It is better to drive your car once a week as opposed to not driving it at all. Be that as it may, it is still not good to drive your car once a week. Starting your car up every few days or so is necessary to condition the battery.

You don’t need a trickle charger for a week, and probably nothing is going to happen. Be sure to ask yourself do you even need a car if you drive it once a week only.

Should I leave my EV plugged in overnight?

You can safely leave your car plugged in overnight. Every car these days has lots of built-in charging management systems which are designed to prevent battery overcharging. These systems are designed to reach the maximum state of charge, but they are also designed to protect your battery.

Marko Mikulic

Why do you love writing about cars? I love writing about cars as cars are a huge personal interest of mine. I was raised in a car enthusiast community and ever since I was young, I always wanted to do car-related work.

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