The Dreaded Model 3 Phantom Drain
What is it the Model 3 Phantom Drain? Simply put, it’s the charge the Model 3 loses when it’s not in operation. The reasons for this include the battery’s thermal management system, on board electronics, or “waking up” the M3 to check the charging status. It’s estimated the vehicle should lose about 1% of it’s charge every 24 hours. I work from home, so I decided to test the battery life. I’ve only had the car about a week and haven’t charged to it’s full capacity yet. So I chose a time frame that the car would not be used for a 24 hour time period which turned into a full 48 hours – ON THE DOT. Here are the results…
Model 3 Phantom Drain – 8:51am September 5
The battery is ALMOST to what Tesla considers a full charge of 310 miles for the M3 long range. At this point, I unplugged the charger from vehicle and attempted to distract myself from driving the M3, checking the app, or getting inside the cabin for a whiff of that intoxicating new car smell.
Model 3 Phantom Drain – 8:12pm September 5
OK, it’s been almost a full 12 hours without checking in. The app is reporting only a 2 mile loss from – not bad! Instead of taking the M3 for a victory lap or any other excuse to drive it, the test continues…
Model 3 Phantom Drain – 3:50am September 6
AM. Yes, you read that right. Does the early bird gets the worm? After waiting 2 years, 5 months, and some odd days to finally get the Model 3 – it doesn’t feel that way. In any case, we’re only seeing a decrease of 3 miles from the previous evening. Down to 303 from the original start mileage of 308.
Model 3 Phantom Drain – 8:49am September 6
It couldn’t wait – I had to check the stats! Loss of 1 mile over the course of 5 hours. What I found interesting, though, was that the cabin temperature actually decreased from 86 degrees Fahrenheit down to 84 even though climate control was not turned on.
Model 3 Phantom Drain – 10:49am September 6
14 hours ON THE DOT since the last check in. It’s not easy. The sun is shining on a hot sunny day in Florida – perfect to take a ride with the windows down and Spotify, I mean Slacker Radio, blaring. Only a 3 mile loss – the phantom drain seems manageable. The image is darkened because of brightness filter on my phone – yup, I took this screenshot from my bed.
Model 3 Phantom Drain – 8:51am September 7
A full 48 hours later ON THE DOT (it really wasn’t planned) – we see the results with a loss of 2 miles overnight. The good news? I “forgot” to get my packages out to the mail box – I suppose I’ll take a trip to the post office?
Model 3 Phantom Drain – Conclusion
So the results from this less than scientific test are clear – Elon and the Tesla crew were a little off. Their estimated discharge rate of 1% every 24 hours would equate to 6.2 miles of range loss. Our test total started at 308 miles of range at 8:51am on the 5th down to 297 at 8:51am on the 7th for a total loss of 11 miles of range in a 48 hour period. It’s not a huge deal when you’re at home or around town. But if you’ll be on an extended trip and leave the Tesla at the airport parking lot, you’ll want to account for phantom drain to make sure you’ll have enough range to make it back home.
The results will be very different come December when the M3 takes the voyage into the Northern arctic tundra known as New York. Other less fortunate Model 3 drivers that live in the Northeastern part of America have reported a significant loss in range when temperatures drop below freezing. But that’s where heated seats and climate control via app will be a lifesaver.
Oh, did I mention when I do charge the Tesla, it’s with a single 120v wall outlet? Check out the charging challenge Ben completed here…