Braking and Stopping

Braking Systems

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Warning
Properly functioning braking systems are critical to ensure safety. If you experience a problem with the brake pedal, brake calipers, or any component of a Model S braking system, contact Tesla immediately.

Model S has an anti-lock braking system (ABS) that prevents the wheels from locking when you apply maximum brake pressure. This improves steering control during heavy braking in most road conditions.

During emergency braking conditions, the ABS constantly monitors the speed of each wheel and varies the brake pressure according to the grip available.

The alteration of brake pressure can be felt as a pulsing sensation through the brake pedal. This demonstrates that the ABS is operating and is not a cause for concern. Keep firm and steady pressure on the brake pedal while experiencing the pulsing.

Yellow icon with the letters "ABS" inside a circle.
The ABS indicator briefly flashes yellow on the instrument panel when you first start Model S. If this indicator lights up at any other time, an ABS fault has occurred and the ABS is not operating. Contact Tesla. The braking system remains fully operational and is not affected by an ABS failure. However, braking distances may increase. Drive cautiously and avoid heavy braking.
Red icon with an exclamation mark and word "BRAKE" underneath.
If the instrument panel displays this red brake indicator at any time other than briefly when you first start Model S, a brake system fault is detected, or the level of the brake fluid is low. Contact Tesla immediately. Apply steady pressure and keep the brakes firm to bring the vehicle to a stop when safe to do so.
Yellow icon with an exclamation mark and word "BRAKE" underneath.
The instrument panel displays this yellow brake indicator if a brake booster fault is detected. Apply steady pressure and keep the brakes firm to stop the vehicle when safety permits. Hydraulic Boost Compensation will be active (see Hydraulic Boost Compensation).

Emergency Braking

In an emergency, fully press the brake pedal and maintain firm pressure, even on low traction surfaces. The ABS varies the braking pressure to each wheel according to the amount of traction available. This prevents wheels from locking and ensures that you stop as safely as possible.

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Warning
Do not pump the brake pedal. Doing so interrupts operation of the ABS and can increase braking distance.
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Warning
Always maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you and be aware of hazardous driving conditions. While the ABS can improve stopping distance, it cannot overcome the laws of physics. It also does not prevent the danger of hydroplaning (where a layer of water prevents direct contact between the tires and the road).
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CAUTION
Automatic Emergency Braking (see Automatic Emergency Braking) may intervene to automatically brake in situations where a collision is considered imminent. Automatic Emergency Braking is not designed to prevent a collision. At best, it can minimize the impact of a frontal collision by attempting to reduce your driving speed. Depending on Automatic Emergency Braking to avoid a collision can result in serious injury or death.

Dynamic Brake Lights (if equipped)

If you are driving over 30 mph (50 km/h) and brake forcefully (or if Automatic Emergency Braking engages), the brake lights flash quickly to warn other drivers that Model S is rapidly slowing down. If Model S stops completely, the hazard warning lights flash. Flashing continues until you press the accelerator or manually press the hazard lights button to turn them off (see Hazard Warning Flashers).

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Note
When towing a trailer (if applicable), the brake lights on the trailer also operate as described above, even when the trailer is not equipped with a separate braking system.
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Warning
When towing a trailer (if applicable), always increase your following distance. Sudden braking may result in skidding, jack-knifing, and loss of control.

Brake Disc Wiping

To ensure brakes remain responsive in cold and wet weather, Model S is equipped with brake disc wiping. When cold and wet weather is detected, this feature repeatedly applies an imperceptible amount of brake force to remove water from the surface of the brake discs.

Hydraulic Fade Compensation

Model S is equipped with hydraulic fade compensation. This assists in monitoring brake system pressure and ABS activity for instances of reduced brake performance. If reduced brake performance is detected (for example, as a result of brake fade, or cold or wet conditions), you may hear a sound, feel the brake pedal pull away from your foot, and notice a strong increase in braking. Brake as you normally would and continue to press the brake pedal without releasing or pumping the brakes.

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CAUTION
If brakes are not functioning properly, stop the vehicle when safety permits and contact Tesla Service.
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Warning
Always maintain a safe driving distance from the vehicle in front of you and exercise caution when driving conditions are hazardous. Brake disc wiping and hydraulic fade compensation is not a substitute for adequately applying the brakes.

Hydraulic Boost Compensation

Model S is equipped with a brake booster that activates the brakes when the brake pedal is pressed. Hydraulic boost compensation provides mechanical assistance if the brake booster fails. If a brake booster failure is detected, the brake pedal feels stiffer to press and you may hear a sound when you press the brake pedal. To stop Model S, apply steady force to the brake pedal without releasing or pumping. Drive cautiously and maintain a safe distance from other road users—brake pedal responsiveness and braking performance may be degraded.

Regenerative Braking

Whenever Model S is moving and your foot is off the accelerator, regenerative braking slows down the vehicle and feeds any surplus power back to the Battery. By anticipating your stops and reducing or removing pressure from the accelerator pedal to slow down, you can take advantage of regenerative braking to increase driving range.

Vehicle deceleration due to regenerative braking may vary depending on the current state of the Battery. For example, regenerative braking may be limited if the Battery is cold or is already fully charged.

The power meter (a thin horizontal line centered at the bottom of the instrument panel) displays real-time power usage:

  1. The left side of the power meter represents power generated from regenerative braking, or power that is used to slow down the vehicle. Power being fed back to the Battery displays in green whereas power used by the regular braking system displays in gray.
  2. The right side of the power meter shows power that is used to accelerate the vehicle. During acceleration, the power meter fills to the right with gray to represent the amount of power being used.
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Note
To ensure visibility when the display is dark, power represented by the gray color displays as white.
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Note
Installing winter tires with aggressive compound and tread design may result in temporarily-reduced regenerative braking power. However, your vehicle is designed to continuously recalibrate itself, and after changing tires it will increasingly restore regenerative braking power after some straight-line accelerations. For most drivers this occurs after a short period of normal driving, but drivers who normally accelerate lightly may need to use slightly harder accelerations while the recalibration is in progress.
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Warning
In snowy or icy conditions Model S may experience traction loss during regenerative braking.

Parking Brake

To engage the parking brake, touch Controls > Safety > Parking Brake. Follow the onscreen instructions.

Use the touchscreen to manually release the parking brake (which also shifts Model S into Neutral):

  1. Touch Controls > Safety.
  2. Press the brake pedal, then touch Parking Brake. If Model S was previously in Park, it shifts into Neutral.
Red icon with the letter P in a circle and the word "PARK" underneath.
When you manually apply the parking brake using the touchscreen, the red parking brake indicator lights up on the instrument panel.
Yellow icon with the letter P inside a circle.
If the parking brake experiences an electrical issue, the amber parking brake indicator lights up and a fault message displays on the instrument panel.
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Note
The parking brake operates on the rear wheels only, and is independent of the pedal-operated brake system.
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CAUTION
In the unlikely event that Model S loses electrical power, you cannot access the touchscreen and are therefore unable to release the parking brake without first jump starting Model S (see Instructions for Transporters).
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Warning
In snowy or icy conditions the rear wheels may not have sufficient traction to prevent Model S from sliding down a slope, particularly if not using winter tires. Avoid parking on hills in snowy or icy conditions. You are always responsible for parking safely.
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Warning
Your Model S may display an alert if the road is too steep to safely park on, or if the parking brakes are not properly engaged. These alerts are for guidance purposes only and are not a substitute for the driver’s judgment of safe parking conditions, including specific road or weather conditions. Do not depend on these alerts to determine whether or not it is safe to park at any location. You are always responsible for parking safely.

Brake Wear

Model S brake pads are equipped with wear indicators. A wear indicator is a thin metal strip attached to the brake pad that squeals as it rubs against the rotor when the pad wears down. This squealing sound indicates that the brake pads have reached the end of their service life and require replacement. To replace the brake pads, contact Tesla Service.

Brakes must be periodically inspected visually by removing the tire and wheel. For detailed specifications and service limits for rotors and brake pads, see Subsystems. Additionally, Tesla recommends cleaning and lubricating the brake calipers every year or 12,500 miles (20,000 km) if in an area where roads are salted during winter months.

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Warning
Neglecting to replace worn brake pads damages the braking system and can result in a braking hazard.