How Do Tesla Brakes Work?

How exactly does Tesla's regenerative braking work? What is the efficiency of Tesla's brake system? Here's the ultimate guide to Tesla brakes.

With Tesla dominating the electric car market in the last few years, the public has been exposed to many exciting features an electric vehicle gives, such as regenerative braking.

As Tesla is constantly updating the features of their cars, the brakes play a pivotal role as they are an extremely important safety mechanism, and they also produce electricity when coasting.

Strangely enough, Tesla’s updates don’t always add features, but they delete features, such as adjusting the level of regenerative braking.

From the aspect of physics, braking is essentially getting rid of kinetic energy (i.e., the energy of the car in motion) somewhere else, which in this case is on the brakes.

This guide will cover how Tesla uses the brakes on their car and all its uses in addition to making the car stop.

Let’s get into it!

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Tesla Regenerative Braking

Tesla Regenerative Braking

The most significant difference that is seen in a traditional internal combustion engine car versus an electric vehicle such as the Tesla Model S is regenerative braking.

This not only helps your car stop, but it also charges the battery while doing so. Therefore, we will primarily cover the regenerative braking aspect of Tesla brakes.

“How does Tesla regenerative braking work?” you may ask. The principle is quite simple, yet the work behind it is much greater.

Traditionally, when you press the brake pedal, the brake pads will hit the brake rotor, causing friction and, consequently, heat generation.

This will take a toll on your brakes as, little by little, the brake material will wear off, so a replacement is needed.

In an electric vehicle, the principle is the same, but there is also one more mechanism – regenerative braking.

Regenerative Braking

Fully electric and hybrid vehicles can use this technique due to the electric motor. As cars are expected to be more fuel efficient, non-electric cars are also expected to use regenerative braking.

When the motors are not “pushing” the vehicle forward, it can momentarily use the rotating motion to generate electricity.

In the future, there is a great possibility that non-electric cars will also feature regenerative braking as electricity is also needed for those cars.

In that case, capacitors and smaller electric generators will be used as they lack electric motors on the wheels.

While the electricity won’t help driving the car, it will save fuel as electric accessories of the car, such as the air conditioning, lights, and screens, all affect the fuel economy. 

Advantages Of Regenerative Braking

Aside from increasing the car’s efficiency, regenerative braking has a few more advantages, even for cars running fuel.

Here are a few advantages that come with regenerative braking:

One-Pedal Driving

One Pedal Driving

Together with regenerative braking came the so-called one-pedal driving.

As the name suggests, it enables the driver to drive with only one pedal – the accelerator/gas pedal.

This makes driving easier in most cases as you only have to focus on one pedal alone. On the other hand, it does take some time to get used to, but some never do.

It is a matter of preference if you like one-pedal driving, but if you do, the overall benefits of regenerative braking will be more pronounced.

That brings us to the next advantage – less wear and tear.

Less Brake Tear

Car Brake Pads

Using regenerative braking will consequently make you use conventional braking less, leading to less wear and tear on brake rotors and brake pads.

As you may know, replacing brake pads and rotors can cost a few hundred dollars.

With regenerative braking active, the replacement cost will be the same, but you will get more out of your conventional brakes.

Disadvantages Of Regenerative Braking

While regenerative braking may be excellent in several aspects, it is not perfect and does have some disadvantages.

One of the disadvantages of regenerative braking is that it can be inconsistent depending on the battery charge.

For example, if the battery is at or close to 100%, less energy will be regenerated, leading to less braking power.


There may also be other factors that affect regenerative braking, such as the battery temperature. It is much tougher to recharge a battery when it is cold, which may compromise the regeneration.

Elon Musk and his engineers have tackled this problem by consistently applying conventional brakes to mimic regenerative braking, even if it is unavailable.

In most cars, regenerative braking can be adjusted for the driver to decide how much, if any, regenerative braking will be applied.

Unfortunately, Tesla removed the option of adjusting the amount of regenerative braking. We are not sure why they did that, as it was done in the spirit of going unnoticed.

Even with all these disadvantages noticed above, in the end, the advantages of regenerative braking outweigh the disadvantages.


Tesla Brakes

Each Tesla comes with regenerative braking, which comes with a lot of advantages but also some disadvantages.

The most significant advantage of regenerative braking is the electricity that is “passively” produced, making your car more efficient.

Regenerative braking is not exclusive to Tesla cars, or EVs for that matter; however, they utilize regenerative braking the best.

Other than increasing efficiency, regenerative braking also comes with other quirks, such as one-pedal driving, which enables the driver to drive conveniently with the accelerator only.

When it comes to the economic aspect, not only will regenerative braking save you money by increasing efficiency, but it will also make the brake pads and rotors last longer.

Tesla Braking System

Tesla always tries to be at the front when it comes to innovation in the electric vehicle market, and they are often successful.

When it comes to regenerative braking, Tesla has implemented a feature where the driver will not notice if the regenerative braking is active or not.

It does so by activating conventional brakes if regenerative braking is unavailable for several reasons, such as cold batteries or a fully charged one.

Other than some aspects of regenerative braking, Tesla’s brakes are not much different than brakes from other types of electric and hybrid vehicles.

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Bajro Muric

Bajro is an ASE-certified master technician and car enthusiast with a love for writing and teaching. He writes about anything regarding cars, from common problems and fixes to racing.