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Summary
  • Brake cleaning is important for EVs because their conventional brakes can become dirty since they may not be used as much due to regenerative braking.
  • The brake cleaning process involves raising the vehicle, removing its wheels, and cleaning the brake pads and rotors manually with a wire brush and brake pad cleaner. However, you can also use the burnishing process to clean brakes.
  • Burnishing a vehicle’s brakes typically entails accelerating to a certain speed and pressing on the brakes until the vehicle stops. This process is repeated several times.

When contaminants accumulate on brake rotors and pads, their effectiveness is reduced and they tend to wear out faster. This is especially true when compounds like road grime, oil, and grease reach brake parts because of their friction-reducing properties. Cleaning the brake pads and rotors can remove these foreign compounds and make your brakes more effective, improve your vehicle’s overall safety, and make your components last longer.

Road debris doesn’t just affect brake performance and longevity, it can also cause uneven brake pad wear, which can cause noticeable brake-related issues and brake system damage.

Why Brake Cleaning Is Important for EVs

Electric vehicles (EVs) like Teslas have regenerative braking systems that use the vehicle’s motor like a generator to slow down the vehicle and recharge the battery. Most of them also have a feature called one-pedal driving that allows a driver to simply lift their foot off the throttle pedal to slow down the vehicle without having to use the hydraulic brakes. This makes use of the regenerative braking system, and some skilled drivers could make long drives without ever having to step on the brake pedal.

This advanced system converts energy from the vehicle’s momentum into electric energy that goes into the battery. While it may extend the lifespan of brake parts due to them being used less, they may also be prone to getting dirty because of dust, road salt, and other debris.

These compounds can cause brake components to rust, which may degrade brake performance. Braking cleaning is important to remove surface rust.

The brake cleaning process involves raising the vehicle, removing its wheels, and cleaning the brake pads and rotors manually with a wire brush and brake pad cleaner. Components like brake caliper slide bolts are also lubricated. However, this process can be tedious and labor-intensive because you’ll need to disassemble the brake pads. Good thing brake burnishing can be a good alternative since it doesn’t involve manually cleaning brake components.

What Is Brake Burnishing?

Burnishing a vehicle’s brakes typically entails accelerating to a certain speed and pressing on the brakes until the vehicle stops. This process is repeated several times. Brake burnishing is typically done when the brake pads or rotors have been recently replaced to allow the pad’s friction surface to conform to the brake rotor. The process is also called bedding since it’s also done to coat the brake rotor with a layer of brake pad material. The high temperatures during the brake burnishing process also condition the friction materials to make braking more consistent and effective.

What Happens If You Don’t Burnish Brakes?

Put simply, you’ll have less braking power. Skipping the brake burnishing procedure means your rotors won’t be coated with brake pad material. At the same time, the pads might not have conformed to the shape of the rotor, which can result in uneven braking, noisy braking, or inaccurate brake feel.

Tesla Brake Burnishing

The brake burnishing process can also remove deposits and contaminants from the discs and pads. Tesla models have an intuitive brake burnishing mode that can be enabled on the infotainment system.

This mode guides drivers through the brake burnishing process. As for the process itself, the driver will need to speed up to approximately 80 km/h and then press the brake pedal hard enough for the brake pressure to meet a target range. Afterward, the driver will need to drive for approximately 25 seconds to allow the brakes to cool down before repeating the process nine more times. Keep in mind that this is a procedure that should only be done in a safe environment.

Brakes are still relatively effective even when they aren’t burnished. However, in emergency braking situations, you’re going to need every bit of braking power that you can muster. This is why it’s important to burnish and clean your EV’s brakes when needed.

About The Author
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

File Under : EVs and Hybrids
Garage Essentials
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