Regenerative braking is when your vehicle takes the energy produced when braking and either uses it or stores it for later use. This type of braking may seem simple in theory, but several factors go into your car’s use of regenerative braking and its level of efficiency. Ready to learn more? Here are answers to some of the most common questions surrounding regenerative braking and how it impacts you in the driver's seat.
What Is Regenerative Braking?
Regenerative braking has been around for decades — since 1967, to be exact. This process, designed for an early electric vehicle model from the American Motor Car Company, was meant to take the energy produced during braking and send it back to the car’s battery. However, it wasn’t until decades later that regenerative braking would become popular thanks to new demand for hybrid and electric vehicles like the Toyota Prius.
Today, many electric vehicles have a regenerative braking system, along with some hybrids.
How Does Regenerative Braking Work?
The science behind regenerative braking is relatively simple. As you brake, the energy from each wheel is absorbed through an electric motor and sent back to the car’s battery (typically).
Regenerative braking is an alternate braking method to traditional braking. Traditional braking uses brake pads and rotors to slow and stop the vehicle, while regen braking typically uses an electric motor as well as traditional friction brakes. The principle for regenerative braking often works the same for hybrid vehicles.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Regenerative Braking?
Regenerative braking can be less effective than traditional braking and, therefore, cannot be used in every situation. Fortunately, vehicles have control units that determine which braking method to use based on your driving.
When braking hard, quickly or in stop-and-go traffic, traditional braking is commonly used since it is more reliable and responsive. Regenerative braking may kick in in instances such as pulling up to a stoplight or stop sign, while coasting, slowing down on the highway, and braking around turns.
Is Regenerative Braking Efficient?
Over the years, regenerative braking has become increasingly efficient at capturing energy, recovering as much as 70% of the energy produced through the braking process.
Regenerative braking isn’t enough to completely recharge an electric or hybrid vehicle and keep it going forever — though maybe someday they will once technology cracks the code on perpetual motion machines. However, regenerative braking may help to extend the life of your brake parts, potentially saving you money in car repair bills over time.
How Often Should I Maintain a Regenerative Braking System?
Regenerative braking systems are extremely innovative. And though they work in tandem with traditional friction braking systems, they do not contain any friction parts. Therefore, they often require less frequent maintenance than friction brake systems.
However, brake maintenance for hybrid and electric vehicles with regenerative braking systems may follow a traditional brake maintenance schedule for inspections. This is because vehicles with regenerative braking systems often include traditional friction braking systems with components like brake pads, rotors, brake fluid, and more.
Although vehicles with regenerative brakes typically use these components less frequently and have less wear and tear over time, irregular use of these parts can increase the risk of rusting and disuse issues. Many manufacturers recommend having these components inspected and lubricated regularly to ensure your vehicle’s safe operation.
Get Expert Regenerative Brake Maintenance
Is it time for a routine inspection of your brake system? Whether you’ve hit your manufacturer-suggested inspection mark or you notice signs that it's time to have your brakes checked, head to your local Firestone Complete Auto Care for professional brake services from the experts who know brakes. Schedule an appointment online or locate your nearest service center for brake services today.