Brakes for Model S

Brakes for Model S

Has anyone had any issues with brakes on the Model S?

Here is my story.....

I have given Tesla over THREE MONTHS to resolve the issue with my car.

Every 5-6k miles, my car begins to vibrate when engaging the brakes. I have had to take time off work repeatedly to take the car to show the issue then drop off for service. Last time was the 3rd time I had to have them work on the SAME issue and it is still NOT fixed. I reached out to the manager in regards to this during my last repair and he was informing me that the car has not be driven properly. That is NOT TRUE. I also own a BMW X1 and it now has 9k miles on it (less than 1 year old), with NO issues of vibration during braking. I own a Suburban with 160k+ mileage on it, and have not had this issue. I have driven my brother's Model X, as well as my best friend's Model S for some time and have not had this issue. If it was my driving, why didn't the other Tesla's mess up? Why isn't the BMW X1 or the Suburban brakes gone bad if it was "my driving"?

After the 3rd replacement, which was late last year, I gave it one more shot, and now the issue is back after 5-6k miles. How is it that a car brakes, and might I add new brakes multiple times, go bad at AFTER EXACTLY THE SAME MILEAGE????

My AVERAGE WPM is right around 300. The car has regenerative braking.

There is something wrong with the Tesla. This is a sign that the car (not tires) is not in balance and could be effecting the braking issue, that was apparently fixed. It cannot be possible that I have gotten them replaced 3 times, and that the brakes mess up EVERY TIME AFTER THE SAME AMOUNT OF MILEAGE. The brakes cannot handle the car because something is WRONG!!!!

Any suggestion on what is wrong? IS MY CAR A LEMON?

Tesla is now making me pay for new brakes. I have had the car for about 18 months, have almost 40k Miles on it, and this is my FOURTH time that I am getting my brakes changed.

Bighorn | 24 augusti 2017

It wasn't the rotors?

john | 24 augusti 2017

Seems like it's the rotors. Is the braking system perhaps partially engaging the brakes during driving, causing overheated rotors?

NJS90D1 | 24 augusti 2017

I am facing similar issue. 2016 S90D . I am at 20k miles and have changed rotors twice due to vibration. I was also told that I am riding the car hard but there was no proof from the driver profile.
I have a big concern like yourself

Bill_75D | 24 augusti 2017

Which regen setting are you using?

NJS90D1 | 24 augusti 2017

I have the normal one, not the low. I can pretty much estimate when to step off the gas to bring the car near complete stop without the break, even for highway speeds. I bought the car last August as an inventory car with approximately 4K miles on it. I ordered the additional on-board charger and by the time the hardware came in, I was probably about 6K miles. Thats the first time that I had rotors changed by the SC.

Around 14K miles, while performing my first service (I bought all 8 services) I had to replace them again at a different SC in my state.

They told me that:
1) Rotor warping happens because they see in the driver profile that my car was not moved for a period of a couple of weeks towards the end of last year when I was out for a work related trip.
2) I am sitting in traffic a lot.

I thought it was ludicrous and i was even told that they may not cover another rotor replacement. Of course, I did not escalate anywhere cause i was thinking that the SC may have experienced a bad day, given that they replaced the problem.
I love this car, but I don't think that 8K worth of brakes is sustainable in the long run. The delivery of the message that it is my fault that the rotors warped (twice) does not resonate very well when I try my best to step on the break when the speed is at single digits.
I would have wanted to hear that someone is going to look into it and ask perhaps an expert or someone in corporate that may be aware of a set of VIN numbers that may need some tender care; however, it did not happen. When i went to my original SC a couple of days ago to replace the charge port, i mentioned my whole issue. They were very supportive and i asked them to check the status of the rear wheels when they corrected the ECB recall on the car.

I am still concerned when I see a fellow owner that has gone through this 4 times already - while in original warranty - so I am extrapolating what lays ahead for me as well.

steveg1701 | 24 augusti 2017

@Bighorn, John I had the same thought but then wouldn't his wh/m be higher? 300 isn't particularly high for a properly functioning car

Tropopause | 24 augusti 2017

Didn't rxlawdude have some brake system issues? I wonder how he resolved his situation.

Bighorn | 24 augusti 2017

I was simply thinking that the symptom sounded more rotor-centric. Not suggesting a mechanism such as binding which would lower the efficiency. Others have reported needing multiple rotor replacements--not sure the underlying issue since I've had no real issues in 144k miles though I did have squeaky rotors up front that got updated with a newer material rotor under goodwill early on. I've had essentially no brake pad wear in 4 years which is why I questioned the brake pad assertion.

GHammer | 24 augusti 2017

Are you rotating the tires and if so by who? Improper lug nut torque sequence could warp rotors particularly with the Tesla high torque spec.

Anthony J. Parisio | 25 augusti 2017

Has the recall been done on your parking brakes? That can case these issues.

pnajar | 25 augusti 2017

I was convinced I had warped rotors a few thousand miles after I got my P85D. While I waited a tech took the car out and drove it. He returned it after the drive fixed. Although I doubted him he was correct. His explanation was since the brakes are not used as often the rotors tend to start to corrode but not evenly. Areas of corrosion tend to have different levels of friction, shuddering or pulsing. He recommended to periodically use the brakes hard. I chose to work at bedding the brakes on an empty road. Once bedded the problem has not comeback in 30,000+ miles.

AIA304 | 25 augusti 2017

I would ask these questions...

What is the rotor thickness new ?
What is the minimum thickness spec number before it's out of spec ?
What is your now ?

If thickness of rotors at any spot measured with 1" or larger caliper is =< min spec. They must be replaced period...

Ask the same for disc pads...

Next observe your rotors, by this I mean, how does the shiny friction area look. Does it have heavy grooves in it, that you can feel with your fingernail? Is rotor discolored with dark blue tint or dark brown color. Is this color uniform across rotor, hot spots and warped rotors are typically shown as areas with circles of darker patches on rotor.

The important one is how much of a lip is raised on inner and outer edge of rotor. Use your fingernail again. Should be hardly a lip. You'll be able to see the lip edge if you look on other cars while stopped at light. BMW's have it a lot, those cars are heavy too.

Do you smell brake stink while stopped at light ?

These are all things one can do to help determine the state of the brake and rotor system. And don't forget to let the SC folks what you know. Good luck.

@pnajar. Corrosion from no use or from magnetic realignment of metal from constant electromagnetic bathing during regen

JayInJapan | 25 augusti 2017

Corroded rotors are common with our cars because of the regen. @pnajar posted the fix above.

I rarely use use much brake. I can hear the problem after driving in the rain or washing my car. One or two harder braking events takes care of it.

jordanrichard | 25 augusti 2017

Instead of pressing the brakes hard, I would for at least a couple slow downs, switch the re-gen to low.

Though I am nowhere near BH's miles, I am at 89,000 miles and have never had this problem. Also, the only "corrosion" that happens to brake rotors is rust. This of course forms when the cold rotors getting wet. Then when you go to back up/drive the pads a rusted to the rotors and a subsequent POP is heard when they literally break free. Then for the first 1 or 2 brake applications, one hears a grind noise as the very thin coating of rust scraps away.

I really also would call it a "problem" with our cars, it's a characteristic. It's like the UMC getting warm when your car is charging. It's not a problem, but a characteristic.

rxlawdude | 25 augusti 2017

My story parallels the OP. Last rotors at 49K miles, shuddering is returning at 60K miles. My rotor replacement interval has been closer to 12-20K miles. Mine have been replaced three times.

But symptoms are identical to the OP.

Bill_75D | 25 augusti 2017

4 sets of rotors in 60,000 miles? How can that be? I've never replaced rotors on any car I've owned. The rear disc on one of my Harleys had to be replaced due to a faulty caliper that didn't release properly. Does Tesla consider this normal?

jordanrichard | 25 augusti 2017

Ok, so a bunch of rotors have been replaced, why? For those that had your rotors replaced, were they found to be warped?

The only way rotors get warped is from excessive heat build up. The only way rotors get excessive heat build up is from repeated heavy brake use/applications (operator error) or the brakes are "dragging". Meaning the brake pads/pistons didn't release. AKA calipers seized.

Were both rotors found to be warped or just one? When you applied the brakes did you notice the car wanting to go either left or right? Had any of you noticed a strong metallic smell or heat coming from the wheels (rim hot to the touch)? That is a sign that one of the calipers being seized.

The only other thing that causes a pulsing sensation would be the ABS system kicking on, but there presumably would be codes in the computer to indicate that the ABS was activated.

fchaudry1011 | 25 augusti 2017

I have gotten both the rotors and brakes changed every time, but keeps happening.

fchaudry1011 | 25 augusti 2017

@hammer @OR-US - yes, all the services have gone through Tesla Service Center in Tysons VA.

fchaudry1011 | 25 augusti 2017

@Anthony J. Parisio - I have not seen a recall about it, neither has the service center told me about it. Is there a recall for it?

fchaudry1011 | 25 augusti 2017

@NJS90D1 - where are you located? I am in VA and am wondering if we both have LEMONS!!!

Bighorn | 25 augusti 2017

When you write LEMONS!!! you lose all credibility.

fchaudry1011 | 25 augusti 2017

@Bighorn - I am trying to get to the bottom of this, and if another person is having the same issue, it could be we both have defective vehicles.

Solarfan | 25 augusti 2017

@Bighorn | August 25, 2017,
"When you write LEMONS!!! you lose all credibility."
Please explain.

rxlawdude | 25 augusti 2017

"The only way rotors get warped is from excessive heat build up. The only way rotors get excessive heat build up is from repeated heavy brake use/applications (operator error) or the brakes are "dragging"."

I am quite insulted by the above moronic comment.

rxlawdude | 25 augusti 2017

I have never replaced rotors on any vehicle in 47 years of driving a variety of vehicles with front (or all) disk brakes.

If "hard braking" is "user error," perhaps Elon should check the programming of TACC, which (especially in its infancy in 2015) can indeed brake hard. I don't consider that "user error." And besides, with regen on "normal," most of the stopping power is done by the regen.

It is significant that those reporting rotor warpage seem to have this problem repeat at approximately the same intervals. There is something else going on besides "user error."

Bighorn | 25 augusti 2017

I appreciate that you are trying to get to the bottom of this, and that's what we are trying to assist you with. First directing you to the rotor rather than the brake pad as the likely source of any shudder. I think the issue is not overuse but underuse of the brakes that is likely causing issues. I'd be shocked if there were any stresses on the rotors that caused true warpage. I barely touch the brakes, so I'm trying to grasp when the brakes are obviously malfunctioning. How fast are you going that you can notice rotor irregularity? In most instances, regen is your primary decelerative force. I think pnajar probably hit the nail on the head i.e. the tech remedied the situation with a good bedding in.

If shouting hysterical comments isn't self-evident as unhelpful and contrary, I don't know what to say.

rxlawdude | 25 augusti 2017

@Big, in my case the shuddering occurs at speeds of around 50mph and above. After each rotor replacement, silky smooth with no shuddering... until it starts again exactly the same presentation.

Bighorn | 25 augusti 2017

I know we live in different traffic worlds, but when do you brake going 50+? Unexpected traffic jams or unpredictable drivers or ??? LEMON!!!ADE stands? Have you tried bedding your rotors/brakes? That was a routine procedure on my previous performance cars.

Solarfan | 25 augusti 2017

I cut some slack for using all caps and exclamations when a manufacturer blames the user, does not investigate, provides no work around (bed the brakes), and plans to charge for correction. I do get your point now. Thanks.

Tropopause | 25 augusti 2017


I hope you don't have to pay for the new rotors out of warranty.

rxlawdude | 25 augusti 2017

@BH, you've not driven a lot on SoCal freeways, eh? :-) There are many situations where regen is not sufficient to slow to a crawl before engaging the brakes. I would assume that Tesla, on the three occasions where they were servicing this, knows about bedding rotors. Again, what bothers me most is that those who have had rotor problems seem to have them recur. I've been driving long enough to know that I'm not hard on brakes - the pads are still close to their new measurement. At 49K miles, pads were: LF: 8mm RF: 8mm LR: 8mm RR: 8mm Park: 5mm, so I'm certainly not hard on them.

I haven't been back yet at 60K miles because the shuddering is not that bad; but post the 49K mile rotor replacement, there wasn't a hint of shudder. So it's just a matter of time. I will provide the history of the rotor repairs and believe that Tesla will make this right on their own dime.

Toothless2 | 25 augusti 2017

I drive my P85DL like it was meant to be driven. Avg 485 WPM. Frequent ludicrous launches and severe braking where the ABS is chattering away. I've worn out three sets of tires rated for 45,000 miles (135K rated) in 36,000 miles. My brakes are fine and have never given a hint of a problem. I don't think the brakes are inherently underbuilt. but there may have been a bad batch of rotors.

rxlawdude | 25 augusti 2017

Thanks, @GG for that data point. Implying it's driver error is simply a lazy way to justify the problem as not Tesla's responsibility.

kerryglittle | 25 augusti 2017

Lots of help here and great advice. Only thing I can add is that my service guy who is a very close friend (nice to have someone on the inside) told me to take the regenerated braking system off once in a while especially in the winter, not that I'm putting mine on our wintery Canadian pot holed roads, but the reason being they can get build up and maybe corrosion if they aren't being used now and then. Much like when you wash your car and tuck it away in the garage and when you take it out after its dried you will notice rust on the rotors and my SUV makes a heck of a cracking noise when I do this and the brakes are trying to un seize. Guess the Tesla brakes are like our muscles. If you don't use them they go all wonky. LOL. Anyways try using them now and then. Maybe thats what your service manager meant when he said you weren't using them properly. I imagine a lot of rain driving could add to that problem. Hope you get it straightened out though.

NKYTA | 25 augusti 2017

I get the "lock up" occasionally after washes. A couple quick stops with the brakes and it goes away.

Sorry that some few are experiencing problems. :-/

Solarfan | 25 augusti 2017

@rxlawdude | August 25, 2017 +1
" . . . Implying it's driver error is simply a lazy way to justify the problem as not Tesla's responsibility."

JayInJapan | 25 augusti 2017

My favorite line:

"the only 'corrosion' that happens to brake rotors is rust."

MilesMD88 | 25 augusti 2017

Very weird situation!

Grey Ghost works his P85DL that hard with no issues, and I have put my P85D through excessive braking as well as normal regen everyday driving. At 18K miles, no issues. Pads hardly worn at a 13K checkup.

Don't think the OP is driving any different than all of us. It's got to be some type of alignment issues with the half shafts or a manufacturing defect that is causing some type of miss-alignment in the drivetrain causing unequal forces on the rotors, thus causing warping.

vpoz | 25 augusti 2017

Had this issue with a Chevy Astro, changed roots a couple of time, braking judder would eventually come back. Eventually sorted after wise old mechanic told me what I was doing wrong with new rotors.... braking from reasonable speed to come to stop at lights/junctions and keeping foot on brake to Kerr van stationary.
On fresh rotor that has not been bedded in ( come to that later ) the brake pad sitting on a hot rotor in one position forms a thin layer of pad+rotor sort of compound which is harder than the rest of the rotor.. over time that harder area wears less than the rest of the rotor creating a bit of a high spot and hence increasing judder.
Solution is to bed new rotors in by braking hard from speed a couple of times and ... important bit... not coming to a full stop, but allowing the car to slowly creep forward. That evenly distributes brake material over the hot rotor, subsequent braking then just keeps the rotor/brake stuff evenly distributed.
Taken care to avoid hard braking with full stop and hold early on for new rotors with every car since my Astro, and no brake judder since.

vpoz | 25 augusti 2017

Changed rotors not roots.

MilesMD88 | 25 augusti 2017

For those having issues, is it both front & rear at same mileage? Is it only on all wheel drives? Or is it on only drive axles?

jordanrichard | 26 augusti 2017

Rxlawdude, you got insulted by me describing how brake rotors get warped? I better not tell you how oil in an ICE gets dirty........

I have had brake rotors warp on me in other cars and I have had brake calipers seize on me, once on the front end and rear. The real "fun" one was when I same to a stop light, the rear left brake/rotor was literally smoking.

So my describing issues about warppage is from personal experience and wasn't necessarily directed you.

Tropopause | 26 augusti 2017


Thanks for the helpful information, however I believe if this was the reason for these few rotor issues, there'd be many more cases as practically nobody beds their new brakes these days. Not saying it isn't good practice, just saying most of today's drivers just get in and go. Even the modern Owner's Manual give no guidance for seating new brakes. Of the nearly 200,000 Tesla's on the road today, we only hear a sliver of them with these brake issues which makes me believe there is some mysterious reason behind this problem which may or may not be helped by bedding the new brakes/rotors.

Bighorn | 26 augusti 2017

You can't really bed the brakes without using Neutral because of regen.

rxlawdude | 26 augusti 2017

Adding to @Big, you can't easily "bed" the brakes in 2014+ cars because the brakes automatically "hold" after stopping.

But again, if @vpoz's theory was correct, there would be far more reports of this issue (since by default the MS will do exactly what he describes as the cause of the warpage.

@Jordan, let's be honest: you specifically intimated that "user error" is the CAUSE of rotor warpage. You certainly didn't say "in my case..." Words matter.

ST70 | 26 augusti 2017

GreyGhost1- Same here...I'm on my 2nd set of tires...16K miles on my P85DL...I launch at every light if I the G forces...430 WPM lifetime. I'm on my 3rd DU and now it's in for a battery replacement. Launching my Buick loaner is not the same.

fchaudry1011 | 29 augusti 2017

@Bill_75D - Normal regen

@rxlawdude - I agree! It is not user error. My AVG WH/MI is like 320 or 330, and one of the reasons its that high b/c I have been in Canada a lot during the winter and the wh/mi increases in cold weather.

@Bighorn - I do not think its underuse. I have 40k Miles on my car in 1.5 years. I drive from VA to AL and to Canada all the time. I do not sit in traffic usually, and most of the time it is on Autopilot. The speed varies. It is really sporadic. Sometimes it happens when I am going 10 MPH and brake, or sometimes when I hit 45 MPH. Its random.

@GreyGhost1 - My AVG WH/MI is like 320 or 330, and one of the reasons its that high b/c I have been in Canada a lot during the winter and the wh/mi increases in cold weather.

@MilesMD88 - agreed. I was glad to hear that and helps me justify that it’s not me.

@ST70 - good to know. Any break issues?

ST70 | 29 augusti 2017

nope...and my brakes are also good :-)

rxlawdude | 29 augusti 2017

It would be interesting to see the distribution of those having multiple rotor replacements, as to year and whether or not Autopilot and/or TACC is used.