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Thread: Lesson Learned: Keep your Brake Rotors Conditioned!

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    Roadster 919, S 2006 Doug_G's Avatar
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    Lesson Learned: Keep your Brake Rotors Conditioned!

    This is to follow up on Another Tesla Crash. There was some discussion of the Roadster's brakes being inadequate.

    I've known for some time that the Roadster brake rotors get dirty/corroded because constant use of regenerative braking means they don't get enough of a workout. After the winter this year I went out and did a dozen hard stops, and braking performance improved. Less brake noise, more braking... but still less than ideal. Afterwards I could still see narrow concentric streaks of corrosion on the rotors, but they were definitely a lot cleaner.

    What really made a HUGE difference was the Autoslalom school I recently attended. We did a whole bunch of exercises, and often the braking was hard enough to trigger the ABS - I'm talking really hard braking (I was also using the sticky A048 tires). After a while I noticed the brakes were biting a lot better, and were also needing a lot less force on the pedal. The improvement wasn't just noticeable, it was significant. It wasn't just because the brakes were warmed up, because they worked just as well after lunch.

    Then I happened to look at the wheels and got a surprise. The rotors were positively gleaming - you almost needed sunglasses to look at them. What they had needed was a really good workout to clean them off properly.

    So my advice is to go out to a lonely but paved road and do several HARD STOPS - I mean emergency-level stops hard enough to trigger the ABS. Do this every day until the rotors gleam like mirrors, and then do it periodically to maintain them. The result will be night-and-day in terms of braking performance. Someday it might just save you from a crash.

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    #421 Model S #S32 Eberhard's Avatar
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    Better going on the road after a nice rainfall. Saves your rubber while getting the same result.
    #421 S32 P85+

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    Head Moderator / Administrator doug's Avatar
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    Hmm... though if the ABS is activated, you're already at the traction limit, aren't you?

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    Roadster 919, S 2006 Doug_G's Avatar
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    I don't see how reducing grip with wet roads will help. You want to scrub the rotors hard. What worked for me was autoslalom on sticky tires. Exactly the opposite situation.

    ABS means you're at the traction limit, so the brakes are working as hard as possible. Threshold braking works too, but most people don't know how to do it.

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    mod squad TEG's Avatar
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    I think Eberhard was suggesting that perhaps rain pelting the rotors would clean them without having to brake hard.
    But, I suspect the kind of rusty corrosion buildup you are concerned about wouldn't just wash off, and needs the hard scrape of the brake pads clamping down.

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    Roadster 919, S 2006 Doug_G's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TEG View Post
    I think Eberhard was suggesting that perhaps rain pelting the rotors would clean them without having to brake hard.
    But, I suspect the kind of rusty corrosion buildup you are concerned about wouldn't just wash off, and needs the hard scrape of the brake pads clamping down.
    Right. If it was that easy to remove then using the brakes once would fix it. We're not talking about a little brake dust here. We're talking about a surface layer.

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    ERIC VFX vfx's Avatar
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    I thought he meant you could brake hard in the rain and not flatspot your tires.
    The world loves to be deceived.

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    Roadster 919, S 2006 Doug_G's Avatar
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    If the ABS is oeprating you're not gonna flatspot your tires.

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    Head Moderator / Administrator doug's Avatar
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    My point was that if the ABS is activated, I don't see how more friction at the calipers is helpful.

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    Roadster 919, S 2006 Doug_G's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by doug View Post
    My point was that if the ABS is activated, I don't see how more friction at the calipers is helpful.
    ABS keeps you in the vicinity of threshold braking, which means you are applying the maximum possible braking force. Maximum force means you're scrubbing the rotors (and the pads) as hard as possible.

    All I can say is that this was what seemed to be needed to really properly clean my brakes.

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