Priuses and many hybrid vehicles rely on regenerative braking, an innovative technology that redirects wasted energy back to the battery. These systems provide enough electricity to keep hybrid cars running without being plugged in overnight. Understanding how electric motors and regenerative braking work can help you determine when you might need battery maintenance or brake service.

What Is Regenerative Braking?

Under normal circumstances, the brake pads come into contact with the rotors to slow down the vehicle. This also creates kinetic energy, which is typically lost in the form of heat. Hybrid vehicles take advantage of this lost potential and use it to rapidly recharge the battery.

How Regenerative Braking Works

brake service

International combustion engines only work in one direction. However, as soon as you take the foot off the accelerator of an electric motor, it immediately disengages and starts running backward. Because the transmission is still set to “drive,” this doesn’t reverse the direction of the wheels. Instead, the motor acts like a generator, driven by the kinetic energy of the wheels as the vehicle slows down. This energy flows to the hybrid car battery, preparing it to discharge when you accelerate again.

Stopping the Vehicle With Regenerative Braking

In many electric vehicles, drivers can choose how much energy is captured as the vehicle is coasting. The more aggressive the setting, the more quickly the vehicle will slow down. In fact, many experienced drivers can navigate busy traffic without touching the brake pedal at all.

While the regenerative braking system will bring your vehicle to a stop in city traffic, it’s not always responsive enough for every situation. This is why hybrid and electric vehicles are equipped with traditional brakes, which are strong enough to stop the vehicle in an emergency or on the highway. Because the brakes in hybrid vehicles are used less, hybrids don't usually require brake service as often as other vehicles, but they should be checked frequently for signs of wear or fluid leaks.


Whether your Prius needs extensive battery work or routine brake service, the highly trained technicians at Reprius have the expertise and specialized tools to get the job done. They serve drivers throughout Ventura County, LA County, Bakersfield, and Santa Barbara, specializing in providing fast, affordable repairs and maintenance services for drivers of any Prius model. Visit their website for more on their battery and brake services, or call (661) 768-8035 to schedule an appointment.