How Tesla Brakes Work – A Quick Guide

If you have never owned or driven a Tesla or electric vehicle, this question might seem a little stupid.

But I have seen some strange questions around on the internet, so I thought I would write a brief guide on all things Tesla brakes.

The first question that needs to be answered, because I have seen it asked is:

Do Teslas Have Brakes?

Model Y Performance - Disc Brakes
Model Y Performance – Disc Brakes with Red Calipers (Image from garywfoto on Flickr)

Yes, Teslas have the same kinds of brakes as every other vehicle. They use discs with brake calipers on all four wheels. You can see an example in the image above on a Tesla Model Y Performance wheel.

But Tesla brakes work differently for a number of reasons. So, let’s get into that.

How Do Tesla Brakes Work?

The first thing to understand is that Teslas have electric motors instead of combustion engines that use fuel. And just like how you can “engine brake” with a gas-powered car, you can also use your electric motors to slow your Tesla down.

This is called Regenerative Braking!

Components of an Electric Vehicle
Components of an Electric Vehicle

Teslas use their electric motors to reduce the speed of the vehicle and also to store that energy back in the battery using what is known as regenerative braking. So, you can take a significant portion of the usually lost energy for braking, use it to “power” the electric motor to generate electricity and store it in the battery.

Not only does this mean your vehicle is far more efficient as it reuses its own energy from the battery, it also means you use your brakes far less.

Tesla claims that you could get up to 64% of the energy back, however, it varies a lot depending on the driving conditions. Things like speed, wind conditions, and rolling resistance play a big part in the overall equation of what energy is lost, and where.

How Long Do Tesla Brake Pads Last?

As a result, the wear on discs and brake pads in a Tesla is far far less. Some owners have reported doing hundreds of thousands of miles without changing the pads. But, of course, your mileage may vary if you drive a bit harder than most!

Related: Wondering how long your Tesla will last overall?

What is Tesla One Pedal Driving

One Pedal Driving is when you only use the accelerator to drive your Tesla.

The idea is that when you press the accelerator the electric motor propels the car forward. But, when you slowly back off pressure on the pedal, regenerative braking slows down the car. So, you don’t need to use the brake. Most of the time.

Of course, you can always use the brake when you need to stop more quickly or suddenly. But you don’t have to use it the majority of the time.

Getting used to One Pedal Driving can take a while because it is not something you do in most other non-EV cars.

When Did Tesla First Offer One Pedal Driving?

Although Teslas have always included regenerative braking in their vehicles, until an update in November 2019, it was not possible to do 100% one pedal driving.

The vehicles could previously only slow down to 3 mph, and then you would have to use the brake to stop completely. That changed in the 2019.36.1 update.

All Tesla models now have One Pedal Driving available if you want to try it.

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